Ministry Calls on Lawton Community to Oppose Hate Groups

The local Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Cameron Campus Ministry met to expand its work in response to unhealthy extremist activity across America and the world. Out of its 34-year history of honoring the faith, witness, and moral leadership of civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the Committee re-examined its efforts to urge people of faith and goodwill to respond and stand against the evils of racism, bigotry, hate, and violence represented in Charlottesville, VA by the actions of the White Supremacists, the KKK, White Nationalists, Neo Nazis, and supporters of Alt-Right movements. These hate groups are targeting young, vulnerable, naïve, and angry segments of America exemplified in the recent activity aimed at students and campus community of the University of Virginia.

We cannot sit silently in the face of these growing hate and violence inciting factions. Overcoming the evils and injustices of racism and bigoty is not easy. It is both a personal journey as well as a societal effort. Dr. King’s counsel was “In order to love your enemies, you must begin by analyzing yourself.” November 17, 1957

Dr. King’s vital legacy of non-violence and justice calls us to higher ground. We must all respond to the moral obligation to identify evil and work to overcome the destructive force of prejudice. In April of 1967 Dr. King declared “We must move beyond indecision to action. …If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

In Oklahoma we have experienced the tragic results of extreme hate and violence in the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City Murrah Building. More recent is the alarming news of the 23-year-old Oklahoman who allegedly plotted another bombing in OKC. His jaded views and actions were reportedly encouraged and coached by elements of the national and Oklahoma militia movement. In a front-page article in The Lawton Constitution Oklahoma Senator Lankford expressed “…Americans must remain vigilant about home-grown extremism and radicalization in local communities.”

While there are many avenues and organizations that promote positive solutions, some steps the committee suggests include:

· Acknowledge the personal need to grow and overcome negative biases.

· Broaden your education to include diverse cultures, histories and situations.

· Seek and share new relationships with people of color, different economic class and belief.

· Act in behalf of victims of hate, racism, bigotry, and violence. Apathy and Silence will be interpreted as acceptance by perpetrators, the public, and - worse – the victims.

· Support the building of healthy families, neighborhoods, communities, near and far.

“Our world is a neighborhood…. We are tied together in a single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. - March 31, 1968

Each of us must take action to stop the circle of destruction that is the result of moving from tragedy to crisis then to another tragedy without doing enough to stop this continuing destructive cycle. Bemoaning hate-caused tragedy is not enough. We must be true to ourselves and to our country by taking action that emphatically demonstrates that we will not let fear paralyze us.

We are all called to respond to hate. Each of us needs to reflect upon our own biases and prejudices and then enter into a time of personal repentance to enable us to face the false fears that prevent us from connecting with others in love and understanding. Nurturing relationships will destroy irrational fears.

We call upon members of the Lawton/Fort Sill community to rise up and be a force for unity of spirit through action.

Contact: Rev. Dr. Willie Smith 580-355-7818

     Phil Jones 580-591-6700

     Mark Ashton 580-647-4955