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Swords into Plowshares is the blog of the Peacemaking Program and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations of the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Seeking peace. Striving for justice. Together.

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June 13, 2014

Freedom Summer

by Max Hill

On Monday, June 9, I had the opportunity to attend an event at West Park Presbyterian Church called Freedom Summer: The Next Generation. This event focused on the 50th anniversary of the deaths of Andrew Goodman and others who were killed for trying to register African-Americans to vote in the summer of 1964. The service included some fantastic (and fun) music, as well as an introduction from the Rev. Dr. Robert L. Brashear, Pastor of West Park Presbyterian Church.

The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr. delivered a keynote address. This focused on the fact that violence is still apparent in the world today toward individuals based on race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. It was a very inspirational message. The idea that stuck with me the most was that the way we work on ending violence amongst people starts with realizing that we all have the tendency for violence. Once we realize that we all have this tendency and actively seek to work and focus on our similarities, we can begin to work to overcome these tendencies.

Other speakers at this even included Stosh Cotler, Chief Executive Officer of Bend the Arc, and Linda Sarsour, Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York. Both Cotler and Sarsour had some eye-opening things to say about violence toward their communities and the affect that they see it having on many members of their communities, especially children.

This service was an incredible event to behold for many reasons. First, West Park Presbyterian Church is so rich with history and you can feel that the moment you walk through the doors and see the beautiful sanctuary. Second, this event showed such solidarity among the different communities and the city of New York, and the commitment to ending unnecessary violence. Lastly, it inspired me to continue searching for ways to bring these types of violence to people’s attention and work to end this injustice.


Categories: Congregations, Interfaith, Justice

Tags: arab american association of new york, bend the arc, james forbs, west park presbyterian church

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