Christian leaders like Rev. Dean Nelson are eager for the church to lead Philadelphians in racial reconciliation efforts after two customers were escorted in handcuffs from a Philadelphia Starbucks franchise when an employee called 9-1-1 claiming the African American men were trespassing.
Rev. Nelson, the chairman of the Douglass Leadership Institute says it “condemns all forms of racial discrimination, and we are saddened to see ongoing racial animosity in 21st century America.”
Rev. Nelson told CBN News he is putting the power of prayer together with action and he hopes “Americans will seek to cross racial and ideological divides to have productive conversations about justice and achieving a more equitable society.”
The event has sparked outrage and protests in the city of brotherly love.
Philadelphia radio personality Minister Solomon Jones is often vocal about unspoken racial tensions.
He thinks the first step to healing is for the church to take its head out of the sand and deal with the ongoing problems.
“In order to address racism, the church must first acknowledge that it exists," he said. "Then we must speak that truth in love, all the while acknowledging that racism works through systems that exist to benefit some at the expense of others. Finally, we must take action against it, knowing that at its core, racism is a sin.”
Jones, who has twice called for prayer gatherings in the middle of City Hall and deals with the “uncomfortable truths of race” on his Praise 107.9 FM broadcast, encourages his listeners to take their concerns to the ballot box.
Jones tells his followers they must look beyond party lines for an answer “holding both Democrats and Republicans to account.”
Both Jones and Nelson say the battle for real racial equality is long from over but according to Nelson - there is hope.
“The recent events at Starbucks in Philadelphia are a painful reminder that the work of racial reconciliation is far from complete," he added. "Let each and every one of us never wait for someone else to facilitate these conversations, but always be willing to step forward and take bold action toward healing and peace."
According to bystanders, two African American men were waiting for a friend to arrive before placing an order but the Starbucks manager claims the men were loitering and asked them to leave the establishment.
The coffee giant has since fired that manager. Witnesses say the men did nothing wrong as the arrest was captured on tape by Melissa DePino, a customer
@Starbucks The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing. http://pic.twitter.com/0U4Pzs55Ci
— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 12, 2018
Upon hearing of this latest offense and the unrest in Philadelphia, Dr. Alveda King, niece of slain civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, points the church to the cross of Jesus Christ.
“We must be reconciled to the truth that there is one blood and one human race; not separate races," she said. "We must overcome color blindness and accept that we are created in “living color.” That way, we can learn to live together as brothers and sisters; and not perish together as fools.”