On June 7, an estimated 10,000 members of faith communities gathered  side-by-side in the Black Lives Matter Solidarity March organized by the African American Council of Churches. It was the ninth day of demonstrations in Madison as Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Jews gathered chanting “Say his name!” and “We can’t breathe.” Moments of reflection, coupled with freedom ballads, accompanied marchers as they made their way from the intersection of University Avenue and Park Street to the foot of the Capitol building.

No more weepin’, (don’t you know),
   no more weepin’

No more weepin’ over me
And before I’d be a slave
I’d be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free
Oh freedom

Dr. Marcus Allen, pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church and president of the African American Council of Churches, and the Honorable Everett Mitchell, Dane County Circuit Court judge and pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church, lead demonstrators.

“Today we are standing and walking in solidarity. This is the will of God,” Allen said. “I am confident that it’s the responsibility of God’s people to resemble unity and show others what it looks like. … Justice does not have a religion. Justice does not possess a race. Justice is blind, but it demands that all are treated fairly and with equality.”

Using the parable of the Good Samaritan, Allen called the marchers Good Samaritans who see a problem and refuse to turn a blind eye to injustices in the world.

The peaceful demonstration was brought to a hush as marchers stopped to kneel for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to remember George Floyd. While handcuffed, a white police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck in that duration keeping the unarmed Black man pinned even after he stopped moving. In the moments before he died, Floyd told police he couldn’t breathe more than 20 times.

“COVID-19 may tell us to socially isolate, but we’ve been dealing with the virus of racism for over 400 years,” Mitchell told the crowd. “If they want to make a vaccine, why not create a vaccine for racism. Let them go and create a vaccine for hatred. … so we can be the just community we were destined to be.”