AFRO Exclusive: Op-Ed: “A Battle Has Ended — Now It’s Time To Win The War”

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Bishop Dwayne Royster (l), the National Political Director for Faith in Action, the nation’s largest faith-based grassroots organizing network in the US, and Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews (r), the Director of Clergy Organizing and Deputy Director for Faith in Action. (Courtesy Photo)

By Bishop Dwayne Royster and Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews

After four years of living in a nightmare — a nightmare in which we saw issues of white supremacy, immigration, gun violence, and healthcare catch on fire day after day, leaving in its wake irreparable damage to families and communities — it seems as if we are finally turning into a hopeful curve. A new administration can be a time of hope, and offers a chance of healing and repair. This opportunity is now in front of us with the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the nation’s next president and vice president.

We are reflecting on and planning our next steps not just as faith leaders, but also as people whose families and loved ones have suffered under the hands of an administration that roots its work in hate and the marginalization of the least of these. We now have to collectively work together with the new administration to right the wrongs of every oppressive bill signed, every national crisis that was dismissed, and every life lost. We will work together and we will hold them accountable to make good on their campaign promises. This movement forward is the ultimate testament in declaring justice. Justice, as we define it, is what faith looks like in public, and the public has spoken at the ballot box.

If there is any one obstacle that we have seen grow and mutate over the past four years, it is that of white supremacy, which is a structural and spiritual force. Voting allowed us to participate in making structural change and in sewing the seeds of cultural transformation. With our vote, we moved ever closer to enfranchising and empowering the marginalized. With our vote, we are helping to rearrange institutional power.

Right now, a battle has ended, but the war hasn’t been won. We know that our future president is not a perfect candidate; no elected leader, as jovial or charismatic as they may be, truly is. But we have faith that decency and democracy will be restored under the Biden administration, creating the space for our country to move forward in a way that will help, not hurt, marginalized communities. The work we need to do can best move forward with someone we believe is an ally. We hope to have found that in the incoming Biden administration.

We won’t stop praying, we won’t stop marching, and we won’t stop speaking out for those that are suffering. We plan to applaud and partner with this new administration toward transformation and change at every opportunity. Faith without works is dead, and it was our work that kept our faith intact through these past four years. We pledge to work together and remain dedicated to creating a world of equality and beloved community, and lean into this newly-formed allyship in order to win the war, once and for all.

Bishop Dwayne Royster is the National Political Director for Faith in Action, the largest faith-based grassroots organizing network in the United States. He is also the interim executive director of POWER Philadelphia, a Faith in Action federation in Pennsylvania.

Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews is the Director of Clergy Organizing and Deputy Director for Faith in Action. He is also a Senior Fellow at Auburn Seminary and President of the Alliance of Baptists.

The opinions on this page are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the AFRO. Send letters to The Afro-American • 1531 S. Edgewood St. Baltimore, MD 21227 or fax to 1-877-570-9297 or e-mail to editor@afro.com