In This Episode
On this episode we are joined by Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors, Senior Pastor of the Historic Second Baptist Church of Evanston, IL. Recently, Second Baptist Church has become a leading faith center in America in facilitating Race Talk Solidarity Circles in local communities. Since 2019, Dr. Nabors has been part of the Steering Committee for Evanston Reparations, the first municipal reparations program in the United States, allocating 10 million dollars to Black Evanstonians to repair historical damages due to racism.
We invited Rev. Dr. Nabors to speak with us because the bulk of truth-telling and reparations work happening in the U.S. today is taking place on a local level. Dr. Nabors is doing that work. We need to know how his community is doing it, so that we can begin to engage the process in our own communities.
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Thread or Insta Lisa @lisasharper or to Freedom Road @freedomroad.us. We’re also on Substack! So be sure to subscribe to freedomroad.substack.com. And, keep sharing the podcast with your friends and networks and letting us know what you think!
Lisa Sharon Harper: [00:00:00] Coming to you from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection, I’m Lisa Sharon Harper, president of Freedom Road, a consulting group dedicated to shrinking the narrative gap. Welcome to the Freedom Road Podcast. Each episode we speak with national faith leaders, advocates, and activists to have the kinds of conversations we normally have on the front lines.
It’s just that this time we’ve got microphones in our faces, and you are listening in. So this episode, we are joined by Reverend Dr. Michael Nabors, senior pastor of the Historic Second Baptist Church of Evanston, Illinois. Um, recently, Second Baptist Church has become a leading faith center in America in facilitating race talk solidarity circles in local communities.
And since 2019, Dr. Nabors has been part of the steering committee for Evanston Reparations, the first [00:01:00] municipal reparations program in the United States, allocating $10 million to black Evanstonians to repair historical damages due to racism. So I invited Reverend Dr. Nabors to speak with us today because the bulk of truth telling and reparations work happening in the US today is taking place on a local level.
And so Dr. Nabors is doing the work and we need to know how he’s doing this work so that we can do the work. So we’d love to hear your thoughts, Thread me or Insta me at @LisaSHarper or to Freedom Road @Freedom Road us. Um, and then please, you know, come to us and visit on Substack or Patreon, right? So, um, we are in both places at Freedom Road, so keep sharing the podcast with your friends and networks and let us know what you think.
So Reverend Dr. Nabors, how would you like for me to address you, sir? I have had my good home training, which is making me not able to call you, Michael. How would you like [00:02:00] for me to address you?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Um, you, you can, you can call me Reverend Nabors. That’s fine. Thank you so much. Yeah.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Fabulous. Okay, we will do that.
We’ll do that Reverend Nabors. Thank you. So Reverend Neighbors, can you share with us your faith story? How did you, we usually start there like, just to give you a, give our listeners a sense of who are you, who is this person we’re talking to? How did you come to faith?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: That’s a great question.
So I was born and raised in a sort of average African-American family in Michigan, in Kalamazoo. My father worked for an auto supply company, and he was on an assembly line. He worked that job for about 40 years and he was also a deacon in the local Baptist church. There were several of them.
And my mother was a missionary and so I grew up in a sort of typical Midwestern, I would say conservative and maybe even fundamental, you know, African American Baptist Church. And that, that was my experience. And I grew closer to God [00:03:00] when I, um, had a sort of life threatening illness at the age of 14.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Oh wow.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: So I was down for several months, and I remember the church praying for me and the pastor visiting me often, and that helped me to, I think, grow stronger and to come out of that really dark moment. And I became very focused on religion at 14, received a call to ministry as a freshman in college at 18.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Oh my God.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Was just a real focus. So, you know. Yeah. That was, that was my beginning.
Lisa Sharon Harper: That’s incredible. So you could you mind letting us know like what was the illness that you were dealing with? Because it helps us to understand the struggle.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: I sure will. And they say that testimony is good for the soul as well.
I was involved in drugs at a very early age and mm-hmm. Um, I, um, took a drug
Lisa Sharon Harper: Wow.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: That I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. College students down the road, I’m pretty [00:04:00] sure it was LSD and it just, um, shut my complete metabolism down and, um, and, and doctors were very worried about whether or not I was going to survive for the first few weeks.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Wow. See, that does, it helps us to understand your story even more and appreciate it. And especially the, you know, it’s l s d we we’re talking about the seventies, right? Or the sixties? Sixties seventies, yeah. Seventies.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Seventies. Yeah. Yeah.
Lisa Sharon Harper: We’re talking like the Jesus movement time and all of that. Yeah.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yes, yes.
Lisa Sharon Harper: My God. So you were 14? Yes. Can I ask, was your home church in Kalamazoo? Was it a Southern Baptist church?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: It wasn’t Southern Baptist. It was a National Baptist church. And I would say, that when I call it conservative and fundamental, it really wasn’t for that day and time. But from what I’ve learned since then, especially my theological understanding of God at work in human history, it was pretty doggone conservative.
But I wouldn’t have, I wouldn’t have known that then, and people wouldn’t have called it conservative for that day [00:05:00] and time.
Lisa Sharon Harper: But what’s weird though, ’cause I mean it does also, that helps as well because we know that Dr. King started the Progressive Baptist Church in some ways because he was not really accepted for the work that he was doing in the National Baptist Church.
Is that right?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: That is correct. Yeah. He was a part of a small group of African-American pastors that stepped away from the National Baptist, and it had to do with tenure for the president. And J Jackson had been the president for several terms, and a group of younger African-American pastors that was really led by Gardner Taylor, you know, from New York.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: They wanted to put somebody else up to at least vote for, um, but they shut that down. And so out of that confusion came the birth of Progressive National Baptist Convention.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Got it. Got it. Yeah. Thank you so much. So now how did you come to the work of reparations?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: So, yeah, that’s a, that’s a good question.
So obviously, you know, I went to seminary [00:06:00] and uh, the first church I started serving was in Princeton, New Jersey. Not many people were talking about reparations. Then in the 1980s a couple of years after that, you know, John Conyers is the congressman from Detroit, introduced HR 40, and that’s been over 30 years.
So that was the first real national discussion about reparations. Um, but I went from New Jersey to Detroit and pastor there, and then I came over to Evanston about eight years ago. And an absolutely dynamic alder woman, Robin Ru Simmons introduced reparations at the local level with a resolution RS 126.
And that was asking the city of Evanston to take responsibility for the racism that did incredible damage to black residents over the years. And so she came to me and shared that she was interested in trying to get this resolution passed and she needed the support of the community. And I wear several different hats.
One of them is being the pastor [00:07:00] of Second, but another one is being president of the Evanston North Shore National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. So when she came to me, I was like, yeah, I think you’ve come to the right person. I didn’t understand it initially, and she educated me more and more.
And then before you knew it, a few months later, we were under the national spotlight.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Oh my goodness. Wow. Well, what was that like? First of all, can you tell us what did you learn were the things that needed to be repaired in the racial relationships in Evanston? Like what, when she said we need reparations, what is it that was outlined in terms of to repair what?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah, Lisa, that’s a great question. And what the resolution did is it established three or four primary issues where African Americans and Blacks altogether had been damaged due to racism historically. And the first, um, the first issue was housing. And housing damaged African Americans in so many ways, [00:08:00] but primarily redlining.
Other significant issues with regard to leases and tenants and home and apartment owners. That was a historical issue where there was so much injustice that was done due to race. The second issue that was brought up had to do with education. Obviously, you know, like most of the country, Evanston had separate segregated housing.
They had a school called Foster School that was only for black children, grades K through eight. And it, and while I wanna be very careful to say this, even though there was segregated schooling, I would say that most African Americans that went to those segregated schools also had tremendous benefits because the teachers were outstanding.
They were all black, the administrators were outstanding, they were all black, and they also went to church with you. They also lived next door to you. So you had this really immediate connection that a lot of people, I [00:09:00] think, failed to recognize when they talk about how monumental integration was for schools.
It also had some setbacks when it came to black students and the relationship with teachers and administrators, because you can bet your bottom dollar when those schools closed, they did not hire those black teachers and those black administrators to go over to the white schools. That did not happen.
Lisa Sharon Harper: So that’s… and I think that’s first of all really, really important for us to understand as you, as you draw this distinction between poor education and segregated education. As in black segregated schools, we’re not always at a disadvantage in terms of the teachers, right. The teachers taught. You know, my mom, my mom grew up, I mean, literally, I live one block from where my mom grew up in South Philadelphia.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Oh my, my.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Yeah, I moved back, I moved back to the neighborhood about three years ago now. And we [00:10:00] literally, in 2020, um, a couple months from now, October, 2020, I moved back. And so from the window, I’m speaking, just talking to you with right now, I can see her junior high.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah. Oh my goodness. That is fantastic.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Yes, it really is. It’s a very special feeling. And then to my back, like one block down is her elementary school, child school. And um, you know, she tells the story now of the fact that in her school, her white teachers in this integrated, as in integrated teachers, it was still an all black school. It was, it was segregated due to defacto segregation
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yes.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Versus de jour.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Right.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Which is what Brown versus was, was addressing. Yes. The defacto as in the district lines were drawn in a way that she could not go to another school, the white school, which was two blocks away. And so when she got to her school, she had books that were hand-me-downs from the white school.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yes.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Having, having been used two and three [00:11:00] generations of their people, and now they finally get them with ripped out pages and covers and writing it and I mean, all kind of stuff. And that’s what she got after integration, right? Yeah. So after integration, she got defacto segregation and subpar, um, books and white teachers that she said.
Did not teach. They just didn’t teach. Meanwhile, I talk with my Auntie Ruby sales. Right. So I call her my auntie ’cause she and my mom were friends in the movement.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Oh my goodness. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. That’s fantastic. Wow. That’s an icon. That’s a, that’s an icon, you know?
Lisa Sharon Harper: Yeah. It really… I’m very, very blessed to have had, I mean, multiple conversations with her two, even, on this podcast, right? A while back. And, and she was, she made it very clear that her education in the South, which was segregated, she had black teachers who taught. And while, no, they didn’t [00:12:00] have the new shiny books, but they lived the history. So yeah.
They really, really taught those students. And so that’s what you’re talking about. And I think it’s important to draw out the textures and the complexity of this education conversation simply because some people will hear what you said and they’ll say, see, segregation is fine.
We didn’t need Brown versus the board of education.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Right. Right.
Lisa Sharon Harper: And then, and then others will hear what you said. And they’ll be like, you know, he’s, he’s anti-black. And that’s not true. That’s not true either, right.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: So, yeah. And I think you bring, I, I appreciate your bringing that out. And what I mean by.
What I mean by the positive attributes of our parents and grandparents going to a segregated school had to do with relationships. It did not have to do with the quality of the books, it didn’t have to do with the quality of the, uh, equipment or the quality of the schools, chairs[00:13:00] and desks.
All of that was hand-me-downs. The schools were inferior to white schools. All of that needed to change, so that’s why we needed integration. But what I’m saying is that many of those black students who were in those schools also excelled. They ended up graduating, going to HBCUs. They ended up doing, you know, phenomenal and amazing work.
And, you know, my in-laws are some of those groups. They went to a segregated school in Princeton, New Jersey. So, you know, even a community like Princeton had the Witherspoon School for Black children and it was all the way up to eighth grade like Evanston. By the time you get to the high school, you know, they figured enough black students probably would’ve, you know, dropped outta school or whatever, that they didn’t have to worry too much about segregation at the high school level.
So even in Evanston as well as Princeton, by the time you got to high school, it was integrated. So I think it’s important to be able to share that, but I think that your legal analysis of what that meant, um, what is spot on.
Absolutely. Yeah. [00:14:00]
Lisa Sharon Harper: So then this is important to understand. So if, so there was both deficit and benefit.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yep.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Right? To having black led black schools. Um, the deficit was the fact that the way the system worked was that the black schools got those hand-me-down books and equipment. And so my mom actually talks about that now.
She says she can tell when she is talking with someone who may not use the right grammar or whatever, she knows they likely went to a school that didn’t have the, the equipment didn’t have the books. Or they, or they or, so they went to an integrated school as in they had white teachers who didn’t teach them, didn’t expect them to lead, so didn’t teach them to get to the place to lead the world.
Right. So that’s the deficit. So is that what the reparations was for in terms of education? [00:15:00]
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: It certainly was. I mean, that’s a major part of it and I love the way that you brought up the analogy just about the English language and the way that people talk because it had to do with that.
And one of the things that we may have missed in this conversation is, I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I’m almost positive that the black teachers in those segregated schools were not paid the same amount of money as the white teacher.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Okay.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: That’s same as administrators and all of that. Yeah.
Lisa Sharon Harper: That’s for real. So in that, I’m sorry, go on.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah, yeah. But yeah, you’re, to your point, you’re absolutely right. I do think that is a major part of what the damage was, and you can then see that being passed on from generation to generation. So you can go back an awful lot. And that school in Evanston did not shut down the segregated school until the mid 1960s, even though you had the segregation case that was decided by the civil rights by [00:16:00] the, uh, Supreme Court in 1954.
So, you know, everybody was late bringing that on. Everybody was late trying to implement it because of the reality of racism. That was the primary reason why folks were not jumping on board to make that happen, both in the south as well as the north.
Lisa Sharon Harper: I think that your story is incredibly instructive because we’re not talking about the south, we’re talking about Illinois.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah. Right.
Lisa Sharon Harper: In Illinois, they did not integrate until the 1970s. Yeah. Or sixties. Did you say sixties?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: That mid 1960s? Yeah. Mm-hmm.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Mid 1960s.
So you have basically about a decade that it took them to actually do some integration after. Desegregation after Brown versus Board of Education. So you said housing and education.
Were there any other issues that were brought up in the recreations?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah, there were the two other issues that were brought up in the resolution, there was a primary one, which was, which was economic development. So one of the things, Lisa, that we were really very good at doing is we had a local black [00:17:00] historian who had actually started an archives organization called Shore Front Legacy 30 years prior.
So this started in 2019. So 30 years prior to that, Dino Robinson had been collecting data and information about blacks and Evanston and on the North Shore. So when the resolution passed, one of the first things that city council asked was, how can you prove that, you know, there was discrimination and how did it happen?
And so Dino was able to go into the archives, look up information about housing and the discriminatory patterns that blacks faced in housing. He was able to go to those same archives and look up information about education and about economic development. So those were three primary areas that we were able to document and bring back to the city council and to say this is exactly what the discrimination pattern was, and this was the exact result of it in terms of housing.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Wow.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: At one time, blacks [00:18:00] lived all over Evanston. There was no, um, area that was only for blacks because there weren’t that many people who lived in Evanston.
But when the community started getting wealthier and people started understanding the value of property along the lake, along the shore front, as they say blacks who lived in that area were forced from that area to move to an area that the city used for dumping grounds. That’s the,
Lisa Sharon Harper: Oh my gosh.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors:Fifth. That’s the fifth ward. Absolutely.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Yes. Wait, and can I just say the impact on, um, family wealth? The ability of families to build wealth over time. That’s huge.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah, it is huge. It’s enormous. And that’s another big issue that Robin, um, Simmons has brought to light and every discussion that she has with folks, the wealth gap in Evanston between black and white families is enormous.
It’s probably over $50,000 and it could be up as high as $75,000. And, and you just can’t take away from the fact that if the [00:19:00] majority of blacks who live in Evanston are not homeowners, but are renters, how are you going to send your children to school? You know, how are you going to really expand your horizons in so many different ways?
Most of us who are homeowners are able to send our children to school because we’ll take out a loan or a second mortgage in order to get our kids through school. So, so black families are not afforded that opportunity. And that’s probably true in so many different parts of the country as well. You have to take out loans.
And it wasn’t, it wasn’t bad, Lisa, when, you know, we were taking out loans when I was going to college in 1977, you know? That’s right. I think I paid $2,500 a year, you know, just for a tuition and, and room and board. But now it’s 50,000 or $75,000 and, and children are less inclined to say, I think I’m gonna acquire that debt because it’s going to be advantageous for me in the future.
Lisa Sharon Harper: It’s true. It’s really true. So then that shuts our people out of really huge [00:20:00] possibilities because we know that that pay gap is real. With and without a college education, especially if you’re a person of color. So, can I ask you, how is this work? And now I’m kind of asking you to put on your pastor’s hat, right?
So as a pastor, I’m sure you have moved your congregation and also been on different committees in your area and throughout Evanston to work for racial reconciliation or racial equity, racial justice. How is this work of reparations distinct from the typical ways that the church would move forward in racial reconciliation?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Well, that is such a great question. You know, I you, you know in 2018 because of what was happening in the country when, you know, Trump being elected and all of that sort of thing, I stood up and declared on the first Sunday of the year that we were gonna wage an all out war on racism in Evanston, that we were going to eliminate and eradicate racism as a congregation.
And that was [00:21:00] a really big deal. And the congregation is a very, in many ways, a very progressive congregation, and they accepted that. And we went to work on how that was going to happen. So, I look forward to sharing that with you. That story is an amazing story and I think that it really is a story that can potentially be modeled and replicated in other parts of the country.
Lisa Sharon Harper: These are our stories. You’re listening to the Freedom Road podcast, where we bring you stories from the front lines of the struggle for justice.
So Pastor Nabors, you kind of set us up, you know, before the break. Can you share with us the story of how your church got into that work of racial equity and justice, and what did it look like and how did it… what was its relationship to the work you were doing in reparations?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Okay. Thank you, Lisa. I wish I could take credit for it, but I wanna say that there is a history at Second Baptist Church that preceded me long before I arrived. So, there are other pastors, there are other lay leaders in this congregation, um, who have really helped to make Second Baptist a beacon for social justice in the community of Evanston.
So it goes back to when I was probably in junior high school. So when I arrived, I was able to build on that kind of reputation, which was really great. [00:23:00] And when I made that announcement, there were folks that came to me and said, Reverend, I think that we can do this. I think that we can do that. And one of the first things that we started doing is people started pointing us to resources that were providing grants to do the kind of work that that we started doing on race.
And so, I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Proctor Conference. The Proctor Conference is located right down in Chicago with the amazing Dr. Iva Caruthers. So you know, who is an Evanstonian herself. A lot of people don’t know that, so.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Oh wow. I didn’t know that. That’s great.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah. Yeah. She was very interested in what we were doing and created an opportunity for us to get a grant to do the work.
And we did a sort of two-year grant where we were able to educate every single one of our ministries in the church, both internally and the work that they do in the community about the importance of challenging and eliminating racism. And we did that [00:24:00] programmatically, you know, I would say if you think about our music, a music ministry of a typical church, we would create a community concert.
And the community concert was held at the high school auditorium, which seats 2000 people. And the focus of that concert was on educating the community about the need to eliminate racism. So that’s one of the ways that we were able to do it with one of our ministries, our youth ministry. We work with other congregations and other houses of worship that it’s interfaith. So it’s not just Protestant or, or Catholic. It’s every kind of group that you can think of. So we started having workshops and we had African-American students at Garrett Seminary teach the workshops because they were so closely related to the high school kids and that work.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: So we would point
Lisa Sharon Harper: Great idea.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah. We were doing everything
Lisa Sharon Harper: Fabulous
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: you could imagine. And, and, um, congregations started calling us and saying, you know, how can we be connected to the work that you’re doing with solidarity race talk circles? So we’ve done [00:25:00] about 10 different circles now with different, well, we’ve done a lot more than that, but we’ve done about 10 relationship building efforts with different houses of worship in Evanston.
Lisa Sharon Harper: What is it? I mean, you’re gonna have to go back. Forgive me. Yeah. What is a solidarity race circle? Did I say it right?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah. Yeah. You did. You did. A solidarity circle on race talks is focused. You have a trained facilitator who knows how to conduct and lead small group settings.
That’s number one. The trained facilitator is also focused and trained on leading conversations on race, which can, which can often be a difficult task. Our training came through two organizations. One of them was the Moran Advocacy Center, which focuses on at-risk youth in the judicial system.
And they have been doing that work for about 20 different years. So we did some real amazing training with them. And the other one [00:26:00] was with the local YWCA, whose mantra in Evanston has been eliminating racism for the past 25 years. So our folks got trained through them. And then we did the logistical piece, finding a white congregation or a white congregation finding us and saying, we wanna do a solidarity circle on race talks.
So you have five people from that congregation, five people from Second Baptist, white and black, working together and talking about race. And the facilitators are leading that, we usually come forward with a current situation. So when we started, we were talking about George Floyd. And the aftermath of George Floyd.
And what does that mean to you nationally? What does it mean to you? And then bringing it closer to home? How can you find racist acts and racist actions in your local community that you can address as a congregation and help to eliminate.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Wow. [00:27:00] So it sounds like you, it’s very, very organic and the work that you’re doing is very locally based.
It’s actually leading your congregation and other congregations in the area forward in growing their value and practice of racial equity and justice. Is that, that sounds like, is that right?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: It is. Right. And that speaks to your, that speaks to your brilliance, Lisa, because I didn’t bring up the word organic, but in every conversation that we had before we started these, everybody said it has to be organic.
You can’t come with a prepackaged, you know, program on how to talk about racism and how to end it. So there isn’t… Yeah. You have the right word. And it is working that way. And now we have about six or seven congregations that are waiting for us to finish the work that we’re doing right now with one congregation, Lake Street Church.
And we can’t wait to start with the others. So it’s wearing us out, but it’s important work.
Lisa Sharon Harper: My goodness. Okay, so [00:28:00] let me just also get a little bit more of the context now. Second Baptist Church, is that a historic black church in Evanston area?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: It is a historic black church. So we just celebrated our 141st year, last year.
And so we are excited. We have been around as long as a sister church, Ebenezer AME Church, so both of us are about the same age, 141 years. We started about the same time.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Now my mom told me this history of the Baptist churches and why when you go to almost any town in the whole country and you see a Second Baptist church, usually, not always the case.
’cause I actually found one where this was not the case, but usually the second Baptist church in any town is gonna be black because the black folk were not allowed to attend the white church and so they started their own church. Is that basically what happens in your, in your church’s case?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: I think it’s close. I would say that the variation would be [00:29:00] you’re right, 95% of the time, most Second Baptist churches are black churches. But I would say it wasn’t that they were not allowed. Most of these Second Baptist churches, blacks did attend the white churches, and those white churches were called First Baptist Church.
However, there was something that would always arise where black people were not afforded the same voting rights. Black people could not become an officer in the church. There was no question that
Lisa Sharon Harper: Oh, that’s good.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: They would not call a pastor to,
Lisa Sharon Harper: That’s helpful.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah. You know, be the pastor of a church.
So, so, you know, after reconstruction when so many black houses of worship were rising in the deep south, and, you know, blacks had been going to white churches in the north if they were Baptist. But what happened after reconstruction is whites were not allowing blacks to hold these positions and they were not allowing them to participate in state activities or regional activities or national activities.
So when Baptist [00:30:00]
Lisa Sharon Harper: Going out on missions, right?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So when Second Baptist started in 1882, you know, three years later, the first National Baptist Convention started in 1885. And so everybody knew at that time, whites were not going to allow blacks into these important positions because they were paid positions and there was money that could go and flow right back to your local church that could help build your church up as well.
So blacks decided we’re gonna do it on our own and rightfully so.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Wow. So how long did it… well, first of all, oh actually, I’m sorry. Go back. When you, now we’re going back to the efforts you’re doing that are your church-based efforts, as in the circles, the trainings that you’re doing, what’s the relationship of that work to the reparations work?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: So, it’s a great question and I think I’ll have to share with you, I think it’s an independent work. I think reparations is a different kind of work, but what [00:31:00] we found happening is that when we were, I’m gonna be point blank and say when we were educating white folks about addressing and eliminating racism in their own community and sometimes in their own congregations and in their own businesses.
This was being done under the canopy or the umbrella of the burgeoning reparations movement in Evanston. So inevitably every conversation we had in the circles led to what was going on in reparations. And so what happened was all of these white churches began to say, what can we do to help out with reparations?
Lisa Sharon Harper: Wow.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah. Because they were sort of standing on the sidelines and at the time, reparations was, you know, the City Reparations program. And what we decided to do is to start a nonprofit organization that would also be able to raise money for reparations. And we call that Reparation Stakeholders Authority of Evanston.
So that was started three years ago. And [00:32:00] when the white congregations became aware of that, and especially the clergy, they said, we wanna do something to help out RSAE. And so they had a rally, it was an interfaith rally in Fountain Square, which is the center of town in the summer of last year. And it was absolutely amazing.
So in the, you know, the rally, ever since I’ve been here, the eight years I’ve been here, any interfaith program that we’ve had, I’ve always been at least the organizer or the core organizer. So, my white clergy friend said, well, you know, Dr. Nabors, you can’t be a part of this. I was like, what do you mean?
I can’t be a part of this? I’m a part of everything. And they said, and they said, well, we feel like it’s our responsibility. The burden is on us because we’re trying to get our white congregations to raise money. That will be donated to RSAE, reparation Stakeholders Authority of Evanston. So we certainly want you to [00:33:00] be there, but we want to be the ones to challenge our people about the need to contribute.
So I said, okay, that makes sense. So they have the rally, they said, we’re gonna raise money and we’ll report back to you at the Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith Service. That would’ve been January of this year. We had a wonderful service. It was in the fifth ward, the black community. There were more white folks at that service than you can imagine.
And at the end of the service, they came forward and said, we want you to know what we’ve raised. And here it is: $942,000.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Wow.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Eighteen houses of Worship.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Oh my God.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: It is just amazing. So, those were the pledges and they’re just about, um, all the way in. Now I think there may be $250,000 short of that, but that’s coming in small ways. It’s coming in large ways. One house of worship has given [00:34:00] $250,000. Lisa.
Lisa Sharon Harper: See now this does not just happen outta the blue and it doesn’t happen if you just start with reparations and then, you know, kind of push it down the throats of, of the white congregations without leading them as well.
So that’s what that, that’s what I feel like when, when I ask the question of what’s the relationship, I think you’ve actually answered that question, that the work that you’re doing, um, through your congregation is actually helping to move the white congregations forward to move, to actually support the reparations work that’s happening in Evanston.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: My goodness,
Lisa Sharon Harper: That’s incredible.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah, you’re, you’re right. And another way of saying that, I think that in order for any local reparations movement to find success, and it is beginning to find success in other areas, you, you know, there are 100, over 100 reparations initiatives that have been introduced around the country right now.
If I had any advice that I could share with those [00:35:00] folks, and I’ve been traveling around the country and doing that at the invitation of houses of Worship or clergy groups, it’s building relationships. You have to take the time to build relationships with folk. And for me coming into Evanston at a time when so much was happening, you know, I started in 2015.
That was the summer that Dylan Roof shot up Emmanuel AME Church, you know, in Charleston. So the first thing we did is that, you know, we confronted that we, you know that’s horrendous. We had a community-wide meeting to talk about that issue and we were able to begin to build relationships. So what does that mean?
You know, you march with the rabbi in town. At the Civil Rights Act, March of 2015. You know, we went down to South Carolina and marched 20 miles together. You know, we traveled together with other clergy as well, black and white. Palestine and Israel, you know. [00:36:00] Other parts of the country, Washington DC, you know, when Al Sharpton called for 3000 clergy to gather together a few thou a few years ago, um, uh, to address the social injustice issues that were occurring at the Justice Department, several of us went.
To that. And, um…
Lisa Sharon Harper: So over time you’re building common experience together, which also brings common understanding and leads to common action in your town.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: You got it. You got it. Yeah. That’s you, you, you got it. It takes time. It does. Yeah.
Lisa Sharon Harper: It does. But I mean, it also, I mean here i i, it takes time and it takes intention and it takes money, right?
People have to be invested. Your, your rabbis and the other white pastors that are going with you to march in Charleston. Or to stand in solidarity with the political action network, what you’re really seeing is you’re seeing people.
Over time [00:37:00] become a maybe the word is accomplices in the movement as opposed to even just allies or even just people who are learning, right? So they’ve gone from learning to now they’re allied with you and now they’re actually feet on the ground. They are walking with you. They are… this is their fight too.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Absolutely. And I love the word accomplices. You know, we’ve been using the word allies for a while, but again, I think that it is spot on and it’s something that can happen in every community. So I’ve been invited to different places like Palm Springs, California. They’ve got a reparations initiative under a sort of umbrella issue called Section 14.
I’ve been invited to Roanoke, Virginia. These are clergy groups inviting me to talk about their reparations initiative under an umbrella called the Gainesboro Neighborhood. I’ve been invited to Dayton, Ohio, to Nantucket, you know Massachusetts. So everybody has an [00:38:00] interest in what is happening.
Sometimes they just don’t know how to start. And it starts with relationships and with reparations, it starts with at least four pillars. And those four pillars is you’ve got to have somebody in local government who is supporting you. That’s usually some, it could be the mayor or it could be a council person or an alderman, depending on, you know, what form of government, uh, your area is running.
And then the next piece is you’ve got to have somebody in the religious community. And it should be somebody with an interfaith perspective. So they have to have pretty broad horizons and ability to be comfortable with people of different faith and working together in harmony with one another.
The third piece that you have to have is you have to have that historian I was talking about Dino Robinson in a local area, you have to have somebody that has an expertise on the history of racial injustice [00:39:00] in that community. And that’s the third piece. And the fourth piece, which is critical, Lisa, is you have to have somebody in education.
It should be somebody in higher education. So if your town, or you, or city has a university, then you should find somebody in that university, in the president’s office that is willing to say, how can we help? How can we be instructive? And how can we share our resources with your reparations initiative?
Those four pillars will make that thing stand, but it has to stand on relationships.
Lisa Sharon Harper: This was fabulous. I mean, literally, this is literally what we need. And ironically, you took the question right outta my mouth. You went right into the lessons. Like these are the pillars. My next question was going to be what are the biggest lessons?
What, I don’t even need to ask that anymore. So I wanna ask you now, what are the biggest smoke screens that you have encountered?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Oh, my!
Lisa Sharon Harper: Like reasons people say they can’t do it.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Oh my, oh my. Yeah. So, I…
Lisa Sharon Harper: And how did you move past them? [00:40:00]
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah, you know, that’s such a great question. So obviously the first smokescreen, and I wanna sort of differentiate between the two.
Different reparations initiatives that we have going on in Evanston. There’s the Citywide Reparations initiative that started the whole thing. And remember then it’s the nonprofit organization that I talked about as well, RSAE. So let’s go to the citywide piece because I think that’s the one that’s sort of being replicated in other parts of the country.
One of the biggest smoke screens is that the city council and the mayor’s gonna say, “Great idea, we empathize with the black community. We just don’t have any money. There’s just, we, you know, we’re stretched tight. We don’t have the money to set aside for reparations. You know, we can’t even balance our budget.”
So we have that issue. That issue was remedied by an older white woman who had been an alderwoman for 30 years. And, uh, that was Anne Rainey. I have to at least um, say her [00:41:00] name. They were sitting around city council talking about, we love the idea, but we don’t have the money. And she came up with this brilliant idea.
She said, we are looking at applications for cannabis dispensaries right now. They are across our desk in the same way that this resolution is for reparations. Why not tax 3% on every single cannabis sale for these dispensaries that we’re going to allow to happen in our city? And that’s how the first initial money came forward.
$10 million over a 10 year period. Taxation on cannabis in dispensaries in Evanston. Isn’t that amazing?
Lisa Sharon Harper: Oh my gosh. Wow. Yes, that’s exactly right. And, and as um, cannabis becomes more and more legalized around the country and more regulated and also as more people of African descent get [00:42:00] in on the profits of that new business realm.
There’s all kinds of benefits that happen there. And cannabis, you know, there’s all kinds of debates about it, but the reality is that it has, it’s been, been well recognized as being a necessary ingredients in the health and the healing of many illnesses that it is just the best thing out there for it, you know?
Sure. So, yeah.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah. And then of course, Lisa, you know, there’s poetic justice because so many of our people have gone to jail and gone to prison because of marijuana. That’s right. Possession because of selling mar marijuana, because there, and there’s poetic justice to all of this, right?
Right now, no. Yeah. Go. What is her name again? Her name was Anne Rainey. Yeah, Anne Rainey. Yeah.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Nice to meet you, ma’am. Wow. What a great idea. What a great idea. I know. Absolutely. Yeah. So money, money is the biggest smokescreen. We don’t have it. [00:43:00] And, and then coming up with creative solutions like that is one way.
And look at that, just adding it. What is a 3% tax or 3 cent tax? What did you say?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah, 3%. 3% tax on each sale. 3% tax. Yeah. Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Lisa Sharon Harper: That’s nothing. Yeah. We could do that across the country.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: That’s right. So, you know, there are other other smoke screens, obviously. Some people I think are just hide the idea that they don’t like reparations because some people feel it is a handout.
I’m not gonna be in favor of reparations because it’s a handout. Black people were not the only ones who were discriminated against. Not everybody has asked for reparations. So why shouldn’t we make a reparations program just for black people? So that’s a big smokescreen as well. And what you come up with then is you go to your local historian and you say, yeah, I know there’ve been different forms of discrimination that has occurred.
You know, but look at what has happened specifically because of racism. And then look at the [00:44:00] specifics. We’re talking about the wealth gap between white families and black families, which is absolutely tremendous. It doesn’t matter what that white family is, right? They can be German-American, they can be Scottish-American, they can be Irish-American, whatever they have faced, they are still beneficiaries in that particular group when it comes to the wealth gap.
So you’re able to talk about that kind of smokescreen as well. And that was another one.
Lisa Sharon Harper: That’s good. And so when we come back, we’re gonna go to break now, but when we come back, I want you to talk a little bit about what’s the difference between reparations and just program development that actually addresses issues.
Walking Freedom Road from coast to coast and around the globe. This is the Freedom Road podcast.
Okay, so Reverend Neighbors, I would like for you to address this question that I often get, which is, what’s the difference between reparations and, let’s just say starting a program that addresses… like that gets more, more good books in [00:45:00] schools.
Like, why can’t we just get more book goods, more good books in all the schools and say that that’s, that’s what we’re gonna do as opposed to reparations? What’s the difference between those two?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah. Okay. So, you know, I mean, there’s a, there’s a both and situation. Let me just say that. I think if we need more good books in schools, we need more good books in schools and Florida, my God, they need books in schools, period.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Period.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: They need the right books in schools. So there’s no question about that. But when you. Think about reparations. You’re talking about accountability. You’re talking about a local community that is going through an exercise of what we would call reckoning. You are reckoning with the past. You are reckoning with what has happened in this community.
And you’re also reckoning with the fact that you, whites, are beneficiaries of what happened in the past, and blacks are victims of what has happened in the past. So reparations then [00:46:00] is seeking to address that damage that has been done. And we have to be transparent in that by saying there’s no amount of money in the world that can repair the damage that has been done, but this is an effort that we are making in order to make sure that we are reckoning with our responsibility for what has happened.
If I want to have a right relationship with my neighbor who is white, or with my my neighbor who is black. If I wanna have a right relationship with somebody that lives in another neighborhood that is of a different race than me, then I have to factor in the reality that I am existing on a system that has done this. It has been divisive. It has been horrible. It has been disparaging, and it has hurt black people in so many ways. That’s what racism is. Talking about the reality of racism, [00:47:00] not just in terms of houses that were taken away, not just in terms of jobs that we couldn’t find, not just in terms of education that was denied, but Lisa, we haven’t talked about the spiritual damage.
We haven’t talked about the mental and the psychological damage that has been done because of racism as well. So you mean to tell me you just want to put a new book in a school and make up for all of the centuries of damage that that has done? That is passed on.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Good. That’s so good.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: The DNA is passed on through the bloodline and, and in ways that we don’t even intentionally do it.
You know, I would wonder sometimes, my God, why are my grandparents so mad? Why are they so angry? Why are my parents so angry? And I just came in and said hello. But they’re dealing with the reality of the separation and the damage that was done to them. And so that gets passed on, and it took me a long time to not be mad myself, you know?
I got six kids. I’m like, okay, wait a minute. I can’t be yelling at my kid. You [00:48:00] know, I had to learn how to sort of decompress all of that, and not all of our people have learned how to do that, as you well know.
Lisa Sharon Harper: That is so good. I mean, what you’ve just said, it recognizes the reality that we are not all living in vacuums.
We are living on the foundations of what was done before. And you cannot say that you want right relationship with a person or people group in your community. And just think you can declare now as the year zero and now we’re all gonna move forward as if, as if there was no history, as if your ancestors did not.
Vote for a particular policy that impacted my ancestors in a particular way, or maybe you weren’t even here, but to recognize that that stuff happened and it happened because of citywide policy, because of municipal policies. And so the relation, this is what people often ask me, they’re like, well, but I didn’t do it.
You know, I don’t need, I don’t have responsibility for this.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yes, yes.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Well, no, but you live in a city [00:49:00] that did it, and the city needs to now have right relationship with its citizens.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Oh my goodness.
Lisa Sharon Harper: You live, you live in a nation that did it, and the nation, the state, um, this institution, you are a part of this institution.
You’re a part of the state, part of the nation… that those different levels of organizational bodies have to have right relationship with the people that they broke in the past.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Oh, I love it.
Lisa Sharon Harper: That’s what it looks…
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Right.
Lisa Sharon Harper: It’s just, honestly, it’s coming from repaired Justice.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: I wanna hear more from you. Absolutely.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Oh, no! Well, I mean, I, you know I brought you on here because this is our, we love doing this is our work.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yes, absolutely.
Lisa Sharon Harper: So you could just get me a little fired up. So forgive me for getting a little fired up, but I do have another, another question for you. So you mentioned the spiritual work, right?
So but you know, a $10 million, how does a $10 million grants, not [00:50:00] grant, but work of reparations, offering of reparations, begin to heal the spiritual brea that happened through the oppression.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah. You know, it’s,
Lisa Sharon Harper: Or can it?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah, it’s a great question. I don’t think that it can… I don’t think it can do the healing, but it can take the steps to begin the process.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Oh, that’s good.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: So, the steps are important, and one of those first steps, Lisa, is accountability. The fact that if your community says, yeah, we’ve, we’ve done wrong, and we’ve been able to identify an amount of money that’s not sufficient, but we’ve been able to identify an amount of money to begin to try to redress and repair some of that damage.
I don’t know about every African-American person, I can’t speak for every Black person, but for me that says, I can’t believe that a city has taken ownership of this wrong that has been done. When we have a [00:51:00] nation that has yet to say, “I’m sorry for 240 years of slavery.”
Lisa Sharon Harper: That’s right.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: So for me, mentally and spiritually, there is a kernel or a seed of hope.
When I see a town like Evanston saying, yep, we have been educated, we have learned, and we have set aside this money to begin this task. And I have good news for you today that $10 million has blossomed to $20 million.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Hello?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: So now the city of Austin has been able to identify $20 million that they are focusing on with regard to reparations.
But don’t get me wrong, that’s still the tip of the iceberg and that’s why the nonprofit organization, Robin likes to tell everybody now, when that 10 years is up, however much we’ve spent there will be a new mayor and a new city council, and they may decide we’re not going to continue this [00:52:00] reparations resolution.
It’s done. It was 10 years. But the nonprofit organization is run by black folks and they and they sit on the board and, and prayerfully that will go on for as long as is needed. It could last for another one hundred years.
Lisa Sharon Harper: That’s really good. So, Evanston reparations committee, that’s not the the nonprofit, that is the city committee that actually guided the process.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: It is.
Lisa Sharon Harper: And who was guiding the process in terms of… Were there, were there an equal number of white and black people? Was it majority black? Was it led by black with representation from the white community as well? What was that demographic like? Because we need to get a picture of it.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Okay. So when it first started, when, um, reparation, the resolution was first introduced there were only a couple of African-Americans who were a part of the city council. So Robin was one of them. And another unnamed person was [00:53:00] another one. And she was the only one who voted against reparations, by the way.
So all, so there were, there were nine votes. And the vote was eight. The vote was eight to one in favor of moving reparations forward. So you had, you know, predominantly white folks. So right now you have two African Americans who are on city council, and both of them are also on the reparation subcommittee.
And that subcommittee is appointed by the mayor. So you have folks who are on city council, but most of them are community residents. Robin, for instance, she was appointed by the mayor. She’s no longer an alderwoman, right? So she’s doing her own thing now, but she’s an Evanston resident, so she is the chair of the subcommittee for reparations for the city.
And then you have other African-Americans who’ve been named by who’ve been named by the mayors. One of them is a wonderful, brilliant woman named Claire Barbara McFarland, who is a lawyer by training. She’s a sister [00:54:00] who’s absolutely dynamic and doing a great job. Another one is an older gentleman named Carlos Sutton, and he’s a lifelong resident three generations he’s on it. So it’s really a nice mixture of older and younger black Evanston residents who are on that committee.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Wow, that’s fabulous. And so that committee is a city-based committee. It’s actually a part of the city structure. But in order to make sure that there is adequate representation on the committee, they’ve actually created… what I’m hearing is kind of like “at large” positions.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah, that’s right.
Lisa Sharon Harper: To be able to bring in. People of African descent to have a say in what, you know, how we do this? And I think that’s really important. I actually talk about that in, in my book Fortune, that, you know, one of the guiding principles for me in reparations is that it has, like, the plan has to come from the community that was broken.
That if you’re not actually taking the lead of the community that was broken, [00:55:00] then, then the relationship is not being repaired. The relationship is still one where the former oppression is only being continued in the present under the guise of quote reparations. But, so it looks like the Evanston, um, city council has found a way to actually mitigate against what their organic numbers would actually dictate.
Which would be a mostly white reparations committee, which really would not, it would be inappropriate and it would be wrong. Right?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: It would be, it would be, you know, I, you know, if you’re, if you’re in a town that is like maybe 90% white, you know? Mm-hmm. And they wanna have a reparations program and because they know that even they have done damage against the small amount of blacks who in there?
Yeah. I don’t know.
Lisa Sharon Harper: And there’s a reason why they’re 90% white.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah. No. A reason why they’re 90% white. Yeah. Yeah. But I don’t know what that sub subcommittee would look like. But you still have to have black representation on there exactly for the reasons that you just said. Otherwise [00:56:00] it is not going to be reparations.
It’s going to be something else. It may look like a handout, it may look like you know, this or that, but when the, when Black Voices are on there expressing why reparations is important in the first place, then you are able to move forward.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Hmm, that’s good. And honestly for me, I mean, I would say that in that kind of situation where you have a 90% white city you know, some people will say, well, we have one black person on there that’s representation. I would say, nope, that you, you actually want to get, um, at least half and half, if not majority black or majority people of color on that reparations committee. And that is gonna be a feat. It’s gonna be a task, but it’s part of what it looks like to fix, to repair that relationship. So, can I ask you, can I ask you now, what is the role of faith in this process of doing reparation?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: I think it lies at the base of everything that folks are involved with. It just so happens that I know everybody that’s on that subcommittee are people of faith. They go to somebody’s house of worship, right? You know, so I, I just know that’s the case and I think that everybody who has been participating in this, Robin herself is a member of Faith Temple, Church of God in Christ, where she was literally born and raised into that church.
And faith plays a major role in how she began and is moving forward. And I wanna say this because I think it’s important, and I know that we’re in the last, segment here. So faith is also important because race work is hard. Race work is extremely difficult. And when you talk about being the first reparations initiative in the country for black people, I can’t begin to tell you the number of threats and the number of verbal assaults and social media assaults that [00:58:00] folks have received.
Primarily Robin, because she’s the face of it, but I receive my share and others as well. So your faith has to be able to say, I know that there are more people of goodwill in this world than these evil people who are responding, you know, to this work that we’re trying to do. So I think that faith is able to do that and I think that as the reparation initiatives begin to grow locally around the country… that’s why I mentioned that one pillar, that faith pillar is going to be instrumental because folks will begin to attack the effort for some of the reasons that we shared.
But if you have the interfaith community in a local area that is supporting it, then that’s going to really lower the antagonism and the vitriol that a lot of people have, because a lot of these people, believe it or not, are sometimes in other people’s churches.
Lisa Sharon Harper: That’s so good. Wow. That’s good. [00:59:00] You know, it makes me think of like the ethics of our faith, and it makes me think of another value of faith that I’ve seen, um, in the public square is not even, it, it’s, it’s in addition to the, to the why or even, you know, just the, it helps me to overcome.
It also guides the way we do it, right? Doesn’t it? Has it guided the way that you do what you do?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah. Yeah. I think it has in Evanston, let me say this now, I don’t know how it’s gonna work in Detroit. I don’t know. I don’t know how it’s gonna work in Philadelphia, you know, but in Evanston, and I think maybe.
Because of some of us who are helping to lead it. You know, I’m in my sixties, I’m 63, so if I were 35 or 40, I would be leading this with a different kind of hat and a different kind of focus. There’s a lot more sort of righteous indignation I think when you’re, when you’re younger and the sense of [01:00:00] wanting it right away and the demand sort of changes the way you articulate your message.
So I’m a little… I’m a lot older now, and I think as a result of that the way that I come across is probably gentler. And I think that especially for our allies, that’s probably a little bit reassuring. And I know that that has happened just because of my years of experience.
I think that I’m able to get more done by being able to talk to somebody rather than cussing them out.
Lisa Sharon Harper: You know can I reframe that?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah. Yeah.
Lisa Sharon Harper: I think it has less to do with your age, although age brings wisdom. It has. I think it has to do with wisdom, and I think it has to do with the wisdom of the long view and the long view doesn’t understand this work.
This even as reparations work as being a three-year task, right? Mm-hmm. Doesn’t understand it as being a [01:01:00] sprint. This is a marathon, and it’s actually like a decathlon that goes back hundreds of years and you are simply carrying your forward, like you’re part of the torch bearing thing forward to the, for the next generation.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah.
Lisa Sharon Harper: And so faith, your faith gives you the ability to have the long view. And understand that the work that you’re doing, the steps you’re taking, the plotting and honestly the patience that you have to have.. It gives you the ability to have patience. And hope that on the other side of the patience, on the other side of the marathon, on the other side of the disappointments, on the other side of the holding your tongue at times, and on the other side of calling somebody out at times, is going to be God.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Yeah. Yeah. Well said. I mean absolutely. You sound like the preacher on this call. There’s no doubt about it. I love, I love the, [01:02:00]
Lisa Sharon Harper: I’m just saying!
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: I love the way you worded it and I think you’re spot on and, you know, one of my favorite texts is, “This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
So when I talk about all of these people that are involved in the reparations movement in Evanston, that have really made it successful and made it the first, even with all of the negative critique that we still get, I really firmly believe that Divine Providence has been involved in this. And that it didn’t just start in 2019, that it started with those, um, black Evanstonians that first arrived in the late 1850s and everything that they had to put up with from generation to generation as this city was being built and constructed and made millionaires, and then millionaires made themselves billionaires.
Our people were a part of that. And so our story about reparations has to also include the narrative of that peculiar and different African [01:03:00] American people who lived and worked and loved and laughed and died in this eight-square mile region named Evanston. We are here because of them, and reparations exist because of what they went through.
So here I am in my part doing the best that I can ready when the time comes to hand it over to the next folk to lead it on as well. Yeah.
Lisa Sharon Harper: So good. What is your hope for Evanston? When you have, when you think of Evanston beyond yourself, what is your hope?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: My hope is that Evanston will be a community for the next 100 years and more, that will really be an expression of the diversity and inclusive inclusivity of our nation and world. And that Evanston can say, while we may not have, we may not have it all together, but together we have it all. And that is the essence of beloved community.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Oh, that’s so good. And what is your hope [01:04:00] for our nation
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: That they will follow suit with Evanston.
’cause I don’t think the nation is going to lead the way. I think that it’s going to be local initiatives like ours. And you know, Philadelphia is doing something as well. Lisa, we talked about that in our last conversation. So it’s going to be these 100 different initiatives where small communities have managed to learn how to talk about race, how to get along, and how to build each other up instead of tearing each other down.
And when we do that in enough places, then at the national level, Congress is going to see it. The White House is going to see it and a new Supreme Court is going to see it as well. I don’t think the court we have is gonna see it. It’s gonna take a while, but yeah.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Let’s just be real here. Let’s be real. Yeah. One last question for you.
What is your hope for the church?
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: Oh, Lisa, so, [01:05:00] you know, my hope for the church and you say that generally, so that seems to be the black church, the white church, and every other kind of church that you can imagine.
Lisa Sharon Harper:All the church. Yeah. Mm-hmm.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors: My hope is that at some point there will be enough folks in, in churches across the land that will really stand up and recognize and reflect the love of God and the love of God means.
That everybody is welcome in God’s church, the black, the white, the rich, the poor, men and women, gay and straight, everybody can lead. Everybody can serve. And this is a place where God’s love will be felt and received and shared by everyone. That’s my hope. Yeah.
Lisa Sharon Harper: The conversations leaders have on the road to justice.
This is the Freedom Road podcast. Thank you for joining us today. The Freedom Road Podcast is recorded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and wherever our guests lay their heads that night. This episode was engineered and edited and produced by Cory Nathan of Scan Media and Freedom Road Podcast is executive produced by Freedom Road, LLC.
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