Dr. Chuck Hunt, the family ministry pastor at Pasadena’s Lake Avenue Church, wrote this piece, An Open Letter to America and America’s Children From 2050, for his daughter and her friends—and even more importantly their children.
You ask me why I always throw a party of June 20. So, I thought I would write it for you. I hope this letter finds you well. I mean really well. Well in a way that I never thought possible and I hope to enjoy with you for a few years longer. Let me start 30 years ago from a day that feels like yesterday, June 19, 2020. The world decided to stay alive.
I’m sure that you heard about COVID-19 and the year of the global pandemic of 2020-21. We had never experienced anything like that before in our world. It was an anxious time. We lost a lot of friends and family. We lost a bit of our innocence and our security.
I’m sure you also heard about the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020-2027. They started around the same time but the movement toward equality took a lot longer. Not surprisingly they found a vaccine for the virus before we healed the country.
We made some significant changes in our country. We started to have some real honest conversations about the beginnings of this country. We started to look at the history, not just what was written in the required history books at public school, but the history of oppressed people written in between the lines, and behind the black ink of redaction, and in the memories of elders. We replaced our statues with heroes and the conquerors with champions. When we did that, we started to see each other differently. We started to care about each other’s stories and turn toward each other instead of against each other.
I hope you have heard their names by now, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. The nation was already hurting and then it started grieving and hurting. I hope you have seen the documentaries. One of them even won an Oscar. Those were painful days for many people. Their lives were the spark that ignited a movement that had been building for years. As a matter of fact, it had been so cyclical it was expected.
Ignition in 1968 after the assassination of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.
Ignition in 1973 over the murder of 10-year-old Clifford Glover.
Ignition in 1989 after the murder of Yusef Hawkins.
Ignition in 1992 after the Rodney King trials.
Ignition after Hurricane Katrina, and Michael Brown and so many others.
George Floyd’s murder ignited a seven-year movement that held the nation’s attention unlike any before. Yes, it took seven years. Seven years of conferences, discussions, religious meetings, and civic engagement for us to realize we needed to be antiracist. I know that seems long, but it was right and it was necessary to get it right. It’s the reason that you learn about it in school.
We worked and achieved police reform.
We worked and achieved school funding reform.
We worked and achieved prison reform.
We worked and achieved reform and policing of banks.
We worked and achieved immigration reforms.
We worked on equality and pushed against the systems that guaranteed inequality.
That isn’t to say everyone was with us, they weren’t. Some still aren’t, but those voices are less and less.
Some of my friends decided it was too much and I lost them. Some of the people in the church decided that we shouldn’t be in politics and we lost them. Some of our family weren’t OK with all the posts on social media. I’m glad that era of social media is gone. But somehow in the midst of those losses were relationships that I considered superficial, became super influential. I was placed in conversations that I never thought were possible. People who didn’t like having conversations that were hard, leaned in and became rock solid.
I remember thinking that Christians are supposed to love God and love others. Period. Full stop. We needed to be involved in showing our country what it meant to repent, grieve, seek justice and love mercy. We needed to live like Jesus and then it just started happening. People just started living out their faith and stopped waiting for God to “revive” them. People started to listen like Jesus listened and love like Jesus loved. They really believed that God loved the world and not just their world. I am grateful for that community. We lived out our faith alongside each other. That wasn’t the only reason things changed but, in my circles, it was everything.
That summer of 2020 was one of the most significant in our history. We woke up that spring and summer and never went to sleep, so that you could live well. The following years were just as important and hard, but we kept going.
There were moments that the movement almost stopped, but we kept going.
There were days we wanted to quit, but we kept having conversations.
There were plenty of opportunities to just go back to “normal,” but we wanted a new normal. One with organic justice not synthetic peace, one with love and not ambivalence, one with equal opportunity no just veiled access, one with care for the poor not commodifying the poor.
I know, there are still problems today. But that spring and summer we came face to face with one of the greatest evils that our country perpetuated on any person. We had used the freedom that God gave us and weaponized to take that freedom from another of God’s children.
In the summer of 2020, we said to the world and to each other…no more.
We all said, “no more.”
We continued to say, “No more,” until the world heard us.
I hope you never experience what we did in 2020. I’m glad you don’t have to today.
Remember that Jesus loves you
Remember that I love you.
God bless you
The Rev. Dr. Chuck Hunt, June 2050 (God-willing)