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News from Marquette Today

Mission Week 2017: Daily Reflection

Each day of Mission Week, a member of the Marquette community will offer a reflection to echo the theme of Mission Week 2017, “Racial Justice: Black, White and the Call of the Church.”

My great-grandfather was born two years after the Civil War in 1866. Aptly named Abraham Lincoln Gaines, he eventually became a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. As a law professor, I have always been intrigued by a speech he gave titled “The Negro and the Constitution.” I have yet to locate the text of the speech, so I imagine its content. I imagine what he might speak of that broad gap between “the Negro” and his “Constitution” during Reconstruction.

And I imagine — and to a certain degree, know based on my Aunt Margery’s memories of his life — that for him, the practice of his faith was the way he sought to bring these two ideas together. My grandfather built churches, served as a missionary in the Caribbean and advocated for different revival practices in the AME Church. Racial justice for Abraham Lincoln Gaines was a constant working through of the practice of faith. And it is through the living practice of faith in a Christian community that my grandfather he was able to be a citizen even when the formal law denied him that status.

It is no coincidence, I think, that the civil rights activism was tied intimately to places and spaces of what I call the Reconstruction Church. The Reconstruction Church, staffed by men like Abraham Lincoln Gaines, through its devotion to building institutional such as churches, colleges and international missions, prepared the way for acts of racial justice, strengthened by a living practice of faith.

Dr. Kali Murray
Associate professor of law

See today's schedule of events.

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