Monthly Archives: September 2010

CBS calls me about Ernest Withers

So as I am preparing my lecture for my “History of the Civil Rights Movement” class (that meets at 8AM Wednesday), I get a call from someone who identifies himself as a producer for CBS News. He wants to discuss coming to interview me about the Memphis-based photographer Ernest Withers. A couple of days ago Marc Perrusquia, a reporter with the Memphis Commercial Appeal, wrote an extensive story outing Withers as a paid FBI informant.

What is the news here? Numerous historians have made it clear that the FBI spied on and waged counterinsurgency warfare against the Black Freedom Struggle (from Jack Johnson and Marcus Garvey to Martin Luther King and Angela Davis). Is the new twist that an African American photographer who was seen as an ally of the movement has been revealed to be a double agent? See below for a link to the story.

O, as Brother Bob say, “I’ll never forget no way how they crucify Jesus Christ. And I’ll never forget how they sold Marcus Garvey for rice. I’ll never forget how they turn their back on Paul Bogle. So don’t you forget, no way. Who you are and where you stand in the struggle.” Rasta don’t work for no CIA or FBI, but blacks have done so and these intelligence agencies have used them at times skillfully and at times clumsily. We should dig out and study such cases, but the media interest must raise skeptical eyes too.

National Church Leaders Condemn Misrepresentations of President Obama’s Christian Faith

Knowing the reputation of some of these authors (including Kirbyjon Caldwell), I was prompted to look up this letter.  I think it’s very worthwhile to consider:

Washington, DC (August 25, 2010)—Over 70 prominent Christian leaders and denominational heads from across the ideological spectrum joined together today to call for a stop to the misrepresentation of President Obama’s Christian faith.   In an open letter, these Christian leaders called on the media, public officials, and their fellow Christians to stand with them in opposing those who continue to insinuate that the President is a Muslim, not a Christian.

The full text of the letter and a list of signatories is below.

As Christian leaders— whose primary responsibility is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with our congregations, our communities, and our world— we are deeply troubled by the recent questioning of President Obama’s faith. We understand that these are contentious times, but the personal faith of our leaders should not be up for public debate.

President Obama has been unwavering in confessing Christ as Lord and has spoken often about the importance of his Christian faith.  Many of the signees on this letter have prayed and worshipped with this President.  We believe that questioning, and especially misrepresenting, the faith of a confessing believer goes too far.

This is not a political issue. The signers of this letter come from different political and ideological backgrounds, but we are unified in our belief in Jesus Christ.  As Christian pastors and leaders, we believe that fellow Christians need to be an encouragement to those who call Christ their savior, not question the veracity of their faith.

Therefore, we urge public officials, faith leaders, and the media to offer no further support or airtime to those who misrepresent and call into question the President’s Christian faith.  And we join with the President in praying that God will continue to bless the United States of America.

Links with complete list of signers: