Lucy McBath: What it Means to be Truly Free
Peace is Loud is thrilled to announce our new speaker, Lucy McBath. The deadly shooting of her 17-year old son, Jordan Russell Davis, for playing loud music, turned Lucy into a champion for common sense gun legislation and solutions. The Q&A below was conducted by Peace is Loud’s Events & Communications Manager, Joanna Hoffman.
I know that your father was a civil rights activist (as the Illinois Branch President of the NAACP for over 20 years, and a member of the national board), and that you’ve said that if Jordan had been allowed to live his life out here on earth, he likely would have been one also. Can you talk a bit about the legacy of activism in your family?
I remember watching my mom and dad doing civil rights work. Civil rights leaders would come over to our house and work on picket signs, and I watched my dad speak at rallies across Illinois [where we lived]. My father was also an editor for the civil rights newspaper The Voice. I remember him working in the basement, editing and writing, and my mom driving out to rural areas to deliver the paper. My father used to say that he was “married to the cause.”
When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, my parents were very angry and hurt. The whole city of Chicago was up in flames. I stood in the window on the porch and could see the grocery store across the street on fire and the National Guard standing in front of our house.
Those experiences left an indelible mark on my spirit and soul. I’ve always been politically and civically minded. In college, I was a legislative aid for Virginia State Senator Douglas Wilder, the first black governor of Virginia.
Jordan was always a leader, and definitive on what he wanted to do and how. He was very concerned about the plight of humanity. When he moved away [from Georgia to Florida in high school], he was very upset that kids there didn’t have the same educational opportunities as kids in Georgia did. I told him that I saw him one day becoming a civil activist, and I believe that he would have been one.
What role you see activism playing in bringing about community and national change?
Activism gives people an opportunity to speak their truth. It’s the truest form of change and movement-building.
What advice would you give to people, especially young people, who want to affect change in their communities but feel powerless to make a difference?
Follow your passion and volunteer your time—that’s the easiest way to learn about what you’re interested in. If you’re passionate about something, jump in. You will eventually grow into the activism.
You’ve said in the past that this country is facing a moral crisis of faith. Can you say a bit more about that, and where we can go from here?
To run this country, you have to understand morality. We have to remind ourselves that we are one nation under God, not one nation divided under God. We shouldn’t be chastising people.
Also, how could Christians who are gun owners feel that they have the right to shoot another person? Like Reverend Schenck says [in The Armor of Light], we must choose at all costs to preserve life, even at the cost of our own life.
We live for mankind, not just for ourselves.
What and who inspires you? Is there a book you would consider required reading for anyone wanting to advocate for peace and justice?
I’ve also learned so much from [American civil rights leader] Whitney Young. He worked in the White House with President Johnson to open up doors for black businesses. I’ve modeled much of my own work after him.
What does peace mean to you, and what would a truly peaceful world look like to you?
A peaceful world would be one with no racism or sexism, where people are free to love who they want to love and worship the way they want to worship, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone. Peace means being able to live among all races and nationalities peacefully, the way God intended. If I suffer from discrimination, I’m not truly free. We’re still not at the point where all people living here—including black Americans, Muslims, and LGBT people—are truly free.
Click here to learn more about Lucy McBath and to book her for your next event.