Update: I originally posted this quote by Charles Sherrod in March. Now that his wife, Shirley, has been in the news for the way she was so grossly misrepresented, it seems appropriate to post it again. Given Shirley Sherrod’s recent experience I think it’s safe to say that the beautiful “experiment in truth to find the truth” is still very much worth sacrificing for.
Charles Sherrod was a significant figure during the Civil Right movement, starting with his involvement as the SNCC director in southeast Georgia in 1961. The following paragraphs are quoted in The Beloved Community by Charles Marsh, a book I cannot recommend highly enough.
But let me bear witness before you that I have seen the earth, moving, surging, and falling, struggling to breathe, eager to learn the truth; I have seen it in stinking jail cells packed with people, singing and sweating people, brought before the Pilates of this day; I have seen the church under the stars praying and singing in the ashes of a burned down church building, in the winter shivering under a tent in the open country, in a home where people cried together without speech but with a common understanding; I have seen the church in a pool room. I have seen with my eyes whites protecting blacks with their bodies and blacks bleeding to shield whites from whites.
I have seen ministers lead their congregation from Sunday services to the City Hall to condemn the state. I have heard ministers with three grades of education put Ph.D.’s to shame. I have seen men share their bread till the last was gone. I have seen a band of rugged brothers willing to risk death for each other if need be. I have seen the strength of fellowship among those who formally refuse the fellowship of the church. Somehow I think this life must be shared for it to be comprehended; we do have something to offer but there is probably much to receive. This is an experiment in truth to find the truth.