BY REV. DORAL PULLEY
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).
As we prepare for Black History Month, it is important for us to reflect on how far we have come as God’s children and as a collective consciousness on the earth. Like the early church, we have made significant movement towards equal rights for all but we still have a long ways to go. In order to have continuous progress as it relates to civil rights, it is imperative that we are aware of where we have been, where we are and where we intend to go.
A simple definition of segregation is different people in different places. Segregation was one of the major motives behind the Civil Rights Movement. Blacks were tired of the segregation of hotels, restaurants, restrooms, seats on the bus, etc. They had their full of “whites only” and “for colored” signs. The end of segregation did not come without a fight. Many lost their lives in the process.
Desegregation is putting different people in the same place. Desegregation was a legal movement that allowed blacks and whites to occupy the same space. It was an intentional shift in the consciousness. The desegregation of schools is a prime example of this change. Blacks were often bused to white schools to ensure that desegregation was taking place. Desegregation put the races in the same physical space but it did not regulate the hearts – where prejudice and discrimination still existed.
Different from desegregation, integration not only puts different people in the same place but it empowers those people to see their unity as opposed to their differences. People who are integrated no longer see themselves as different but as one. They focus on their commonalities instead of their distinctions. They see unity through diversity.
Integration does not happen by osmosis; it must be intentional. In order to have integration, we must recognize where we are segregated, desegregate and then put together a plan to integrate through education and communication.