What’s the Point? The Intent and Purpose of this Project

The goal of this project is to demonstrate what happens when actually taking the time to interview people and connect with them where they are as MLK advocated. This project took place over a 3 month period in asking groups of Latinos from 3 different places (Mexico, Guatemala, and Venezuela ) what their views were on MLK and what their experiences are as well. This site is intended to be an outlet for others wishing to either gain insights on what other Latino Christians have said on their own views – or others wishing to share their thoughts in an online forum/community where they can “keep the conversation going” (so to speak) and generate further insights on the issue.

People have consistently been disconnected from one another in communities, making it hard to engage others without having a stereotype of their culture.

Moreover, it’s difficult to see how others can come together in community building if they do not have an understanding on how to develop movements that change things globally from a grassroots perspective. In light of the success that MLK had to connect others across cultures, it is hoped that this project will give a greater understanding of how others perceive the Latino experience and what the goals should be in order to connect Latinos with African-Americans while also helping to create understand of what civic activism from a religious perspective looks like. A significant part of this project is realizing how it is important for others to understand that differing people within the Hispanic/Latino culture can have radically differing views on the same subject of civic activism and how to interpret MLK in the work he did.

The following are interviews taken for this project – -In order to hear the interviews, one can choose to go here (Interview One) , here (Interview 2) and here (Interview 3)

They were done at three different locations in three differing geographical areas within Georgia, with the interviewer choosing to go into public spaces and community events as well as religious settings (i.e. church outreaches, prayer gatherings, etc.). One of them was in Calhoun, GA, at a Waffle House with 4 individuals (all in their mid-20s) from Mexico (around 2:00 am). Another was done at Victory Church in Acworth, GA, with a young college student (in his early 20s) from Venezuela (around 6:00 pm) – with some of my associates being the college pastors in that church. The interview occurred after a community panel asking college students on the racial violence/police brutality that occurred throughout July. The other one was done at Lilburn Park in LiLburn, GA, around 5:00 pm with an older man from Guatemala (in his 30s); he is a young adult leader at Iglesia de Gwinnett and is was one of my associates I’ve worked with years ago, as we were both attending a community event in Lilburn. The event was based on asking others from differing ethnic groups within various churches to join together/pray for an hour with people from a diverse group of churches for the unity of the city after the deaths/shootings of Anton Sterling, Philando Castile and many others in the early part of July.

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Regarding the interviews, all the participants (alongside the interviewers) were Christians involved in either Evangelical or Catholic circles.

The interviews themselves were done with permission and based on a general survey that went through the following questions:

  •  What do you wish others understood on the Latino experience in America?
  • What do you think a Latino/a or Hispanic figure akin to Martin Luther King would look like in the times we are in today? What issues would they focus on?
  • Do you feel that those involved in religious movements that are Christian based need to be more visible today with issues pertaining to social activism and social justice?
  • How would Civil Rights activism look for those who are Hispanic and Latino or Afro-Latino/African American? What ways could solidarity be achieved?

One of the things interesting on the interviews was that all of the interviews had the participants noting that they did not feel they were to be violent in order to bring about true change. Whenever MLK was brought up as an example to follow, they noted that their stances for social activism required changing things by not advocating violence while also choosing to bring awareness to what Latinos go through that American culture simply does not realize.

The purpose of these interviews is to reveal what people across cultural divides within Latino/a and Hispanic culture feel on Martin Luther King and the interviews also involved showing what it means to be a Christian engaged in civic activism as MLK was in his days.

Moreover, these interviews are aimed at examining what Latinos and Hispanics feel on Afro-Latino (or Black and Brown) coalitions today when it comes to connecting King’s work in the Black Freedom movement with the Latino/Hispanic world today. It is hoped that the listener chooses to go through these interviews to see exactly how others in differing parts of Latin American experience understand their society today. What happened with the survey  and interviews was a use of Critical race theory (CRT) a theoretical framework in the social sciences focused upon the application of critical theory, a critical examination of society and culture, to the intersection of race, law, and power. Specifically, with Critical race theory, the intersections of religion and racial issues are examined when seeing how religious ideologies deeply influence political actions/social justice movements. Books pertinent to the subject are ones such as Intersections in Christianity and Critical Theory – a collection bringing “together a diversity of specialist scholars in the area of the historical and thematic intersections of Christianity and critical theory.

For other works on the issue (from  ):

  • Butler, Judith, et al. 2011. The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Dalferth, Ingolf U. 2010. “Post-secular Society: Christianity and the Dialectics of the Secular.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 78(2):317-345.
  • Ferrara, Alessandro. 2009. “The Separation of Religion and Politics in a Post-secular Society.” Philosophy & Social Criticism 35:77-91.
  • Styers, Randall. 2009. “Postcolonial Theory and the Study of Christian History.” Church History 78(4):840-854.
  • Kim. Andrew E. “Critical Theory and the Sociology of Religion: A Reassessment.” Social Compass 43(2):267-283.
  • Stephen M. Siptroth. “Prophetic Politics: The Struggle for Civil Rights and the Ecclesial Experiences of Blacks and Latinos ” ExpressO (2007)
Moreover, for other prominent works on the matter, one may investigate  “Prophetic Politics: Christian Social Movements and American Democracy” by David S. Gutterman
In doing my research, one of the books I have gone through is “The Bible in History: How the Texts Have Shaped the Times” by David W. King.
The book itself centers on the way that Scripture was interpreted by differing groups throughout history in order to achieve success in the social movements they belonged to – and the book also examined how the environment and political climate that religious groups lived it often impacted their theological stances – which would in turn impact the political choices those groups made.

As one reviewer noted best on the work:

 

An important development in biblical studies is known as “effective history” (Wirkungsgeschichte in German). In The Bible in History: How the Texts Have Shaped the Times (Oxford Univ. Press, 389p, $35), David W. Kling, associate professor in the department of religious studies at the University of Miami, explores eight cases in which specific biblical texts have shaped Western history and history has shaped the interpretation of these biblical texts. Kling’s eight case studies concern the following biblical texts and historical persons, movements or institutions: “follow me” (Mt 19:16-22) and the rise of monasticism; “upon this rock” (Mt 16:18-19) and the papacy; “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” (Song 1:2-4) and Bernard’s writings on love of God; “the righteous will live by faith” (Rom 1:16-17) and Luther’s search for a gracious God; “love your enemies” (Mt 5:43-44) and the Anabaptists and the peace tradition; “let my people go” (Ex 8:1) and the exodus in the African American experience; “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:1-4) and the roots of Pentecostalism; and “one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28) and women’s ministry and ordination.

Kling treats each topic with abundant references both to biblical interpretation (ancient and modern) and to ecclesiastical and secular history. He has many good stories to tell, and he tells them very well. His informative and often entertaining survey illustrates a fascinating approach to biblical studies and to history in general. He shows how at certain “right” moments the “right” biblical text met the “right” person or group, and how the results have influenced the course of Western and, in particular, American history.

This is important because of my research question which centers on the following: What are the intersections between King’s political Theology and the Hispanic community?
Differing theologies and religious beliefs impact the expressions of your political activism. It has been interesting to consider how much it made a difference in regards to Dr. Martin Luther King when it came to his theological stances and invoking the imagery of Exodus in order to describe present-day conditions and possibilities for the freedom he sought for his people.
He rooted his stances for resistance against American injustice by keeping the Black Freedom struggle centered in the narrative of liberation – noting in his “Where Do We Go From Here? (1967) speech “The Bible tells the thrilling story of how Moses stood in Pharaoh’s court centuries ago and cried, ‘Let my people go.’ This was the opening chapter in a continuing story. The present struggle in the United States is a later chapter in the same story.” It seems that King also linked the freedom struggle of Black Americans to Exodus as early as 1956 when he was at the Church of St. John the Divine in May 1956 when he employed the text of Exodus 14:30 (“And Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore”) in response to the historic Supreme Court decision of 1954 Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas – which reversed the “separate but equal” practices in the South. He referenced the Black struggle  to the Israelites escaping Pharoah and noted the event by saying “Today we are witnessing a massive change. A world-shaking decree by the nine Justices of the United States Supreme court opened the Red Sea, and the forces of justice are crossing to the other side….looking back we see the forces of segregation dying on the sea-shore.”
He did this several other times – and for many blacks, it seems King was referenced as a new Moses (as James Cone noted in his suggestion when saying that King’s message of liberation was rooted in Exodus Theology and articulated in the teachings of Jesus). It was fascinating to me seeing the ways that King was seen as a person who would reference himself as a Moses figure by referencing Moses’s language consistently – and his audience did the same whenever they would listen to him and the allusions he made with their struggle.
This same dynamic has played out today when examining Latino communities within the Christian world and seeing their varied responses to how scripture shapes their own views for how to interact politically and socially with the world around them. Without understanding their own views and seeing their own insights, it will be difficult for others to see why they do not separate political actions from religious views – no different than examining how Muslims or Buddhists and many other religious groups incorporate their faith into their political stances.

For anyone interested in examining the issue further of Latinos, Afro-Latinos and the impact of religious ideology on social actions, the following resources are placed here for anyone who wishes to examine further:

Jesus 4 Revolutionaries: This website  “explores the intersection of Race, Social Justice, and Christianity. It is the vlog of Dr. Robert Chao Romero and friends. Robert is a UCLA professor of Chicana/o Studies & Asian American Studies, and a pastor with J4R Church in Los Angeles” (https://www.facebook.com/JesusForRevolutionaries. http://www.jesusforrevolutionaries.org/ . @profechaoromero )( http://www.mixedracestudies.org/?p=33698 ) / (http://www.mixedracestudies.org/?tag=robert-c-romero ) and “Jesus Revolutionaries – Mixed-Race in the Bible (“Chino-Chicano” Part II)” (http://www.jesusforrevolutionaries.org/category/mixed-race/   ). His work has been very prominent within the world of activism with Latino/Latina culture and his work has been very influential in regards to Chicano studies.

Robert Chao Romero: Jesus for Revolutionaries [SCORR Conference]

Latino Mennonites: Civil Rights, Faith and Evangelical Culture

Examining King’s Influence on Latino Community : NPR

CLALS | Center for Latin American and Latino Studies | American …

Afro-Latinos – YouTube

Jesus for Revolutionaries: An Activist Community, Book, and Blog – As a quick note, this resource is by another professor speaking on similar things with my work concerning the dynamic of addressing social activism from the religious perspective as it concerns Christianity and Chicano studies – although his focus is on mixed race studies.

Black and Latino Coalition Project – YouTube

-“Latin Music USA 2 – Salsa (2009)” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUd8BmvojmE)

-“PBS Latin Music USA: The Salsa Revolution” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9xQVpci0_E )

7 Latino Activists Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. – The Flama
What Martin Luther King Jr. Did for the Latino Civil Rights Movements …
Martin Luther King Jr. & Latino Civil Rights Movement : Laws …

-“The African Heritage in Latin America” (http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/afro-latinamericans.htm )

-“Afro-Cuban Jazz – NYC” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9xQVpci0_E )

 

 

Afro-descendants in Latin America

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