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Say Their Names: Honoring Black Lives – USC Vigil

Say Their Names: Honoring Black Lives – USC Vigil

Say Their Names: Honoring Black Lives – USC Vigil

In the spirit of solidarity and support, USC hosted an online university vigil honoring the lives of those who have died as the result of systemic anti-Black racism and police brutality in the United States.

Najuma Smith-Pollard, program manager of the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement, spoke. The following is a transcript of her remarks:

I’m calling it a Holy Summons!

Greetings President Folt, Dean Soni and all distinguished guests.

It is an honor and joy to share space with each of you today, as we participate (thru today’s vigil) in what is now being regarded as largest civil rights movement in history.

Today I am glad that we are on the right side of history, together.

As as Christian, I look to the Bible to give me hope, healing and direction at times like these, and whatever your faith tradition is,  I hope you will look to your sacred writ for hope, encouragement, healing or whatever it is you need most right now.

Thank you however, for allowing me to share this:

Micah 6:8 says this
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

I’ve been wrestling with this command the past few days. I was actually awakened about 3:00am, just two nights ago as these words ran thru my mind. I took a moment to pray to understand, why this was so apparent at 3:00am. And then It struck me… I had not really paid attention to it in times past like I had the other night…but it was in that one word “REQUIRE.”

See require, it intimates that there is something specific that the sprit of God is wanting of me right now. And I call it a Holy Summons!

A holy summons toward Justice – to do the right thing at the right time for the right reason. Period!

A holy summons toward Love Mercy – which in its original meaning is “loyal love” or “loving-kindness” to behave in a way that of Loving-Kindness and

A Holy summons toward Humility – get my ego out of the way, to keep my heart in right place with God/Creator/Holy One/Higher Power (whatever name you call upon). This is not about me!

It felt strange to get this message, because none of these sound very radical. But juxtapose with the vitriol, hate, injustice, pain, anger, and evil that created was the wind forces creating this perfect storm. I would offer they are quite radical!

Sometimes the most radical thing we can do corporately but more importantly individually:

– is just to do the right thing!
– Be loving and kind
– and have a clear identity check, its not always about me!

May you answer your holy summons. May you be radical, in the simplest of ways!


To support the Cecil Murray Center’s work, click here.

Rev. Najuma Smith is Assistant Director of Community and Public Engagement with the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.