“Certainly, Certainly, Certainly Lord!”

The following is an excerpt from Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way by Walter Wink

Before reading the excerpt it might be helpful to read the Wikipedia entry on the Selma to Montgomery Marches in 1965 – especially the section about “Bloody Sunday.”

———–

One evening, during the turbulent weeks when Selma, Alabama, was the focal point of civil rights struggle, the large crowd of black and white activists standing outside the Ebenezer Baptist Church was electrified by the sudden arrival of a black funeral home operator from Montgomery. He reported that a group of black students demonstrating near the capitol just that afternoon had been surrounded by police on horseback, all escape barred, and cynically commanded to disperse or take the consequences. Then the mounted police waded into the students and beat them at will. Police prevented ambulances from reaching the injured for two hours. Our informant was the driver of one of those ambulances, and he had driven straight to Selma to tell us about it.

The crowd outside the church seethed with rage. Cries went up, “Let’s march!” Behind us,  across the street, stood, rank on rank, the Alabama State Troopers and the local police forces of Sheriff Jim Clark. The situation was explosive. A young black minister stepped to the microphone and said, “It’s time we sang a song.” He opened with the line, “Do you love Martin King?” to which those who knew the song responded, “Certainly, Lord!” “Do you love Martin King?” “Certainly, Lord!” “Do you love Martin King?” “Certainly, certainly, certainly Lord!” Right through the chain of command of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference he went, the crowd each time echoing, warming the song, “Certainly, certainly, certainly Lord!” Without warning he sang out, “Do you love Jim Clark?” – the Sheriff?! “Cer… certainly, Lord” came the stunned, halting reply. “Do you love Jim Clark?” Certainly, Lord” – it was stronger this time. “Do you love Jim Clark?” Now the point had sunk in… “Certainly, certainly, certainly Lord!”

Rev. James Bevel then took the mike. We are not just fighting for our rights, he said, but for the good of the whole society. “It’s not enough to defeat Jim Clark – do you hear me Jim? – we want you converted. We cannot win by hating oppressors. We have to love them into changing.”

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