They matter, because God uses them to reflect His truth and reach our hearts. And because He Himself is the most masterful Storywriter of all. I loved some of the comments and insights you readers shared on this topic here last week!
But sometimes stories also matter because they need to be told.
I went to the movie Selma this Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I know there is debate over the accuracy of how President Johnson is portrayed in the film, though from what I’ve read it seems the truth is likely more nuanced than shown by either the movie or some of its critics. But regardless, this movie is a story that needed to be told. How is it that a feature film has never been made about Martin Luther King before this?
As I watched the events leading up to and involving the Selma march unfold on the screen, as I saw young men, women, and the elderly clubbed to the ground simply for peacefully protesting the obstruction of their legal right to vote, it was hard to believe this actually happened in America only a few decades ago, when my parents were small children. And while it might be tempting to hope the actual events were less brutal than portrayed onscreen, I know they weren’t. I’ve seen the footage and heard the testimonies from the Freedom Riders documentary, not to mention the historical clips spliced into the end of the movie.
But there was hope in the movie as well—hope that pointed to eternity. After King called for people of faith and of all colors to come join their efforts after the first attempted march was beaten down, tears pricked my eyes as an Orthodox priest, several nuns, a young minister from Boston, and many others joined the crowd, swelling it to a beautiful mingle of black and white marching arm in arm. And that part really happened too.
So did King’s triumphant, “His truth is marching on—glory, glory, Hallelujah!” at the end of the film, played so powerfully by Christian actor David Oyelowo.
My knowledge of Dr. King has been rather cursory over my life, I confess. I know he achieved much, and that he was flawed, and the movie acknowledges both. But he was powerfully used of God to bring nonviolent, insistent movement toward justice in our country. I’d encourage you—with awareness of some mature content—to see this beautifully made movie with an open heart.
We need to know these stories.
Christian novelist Kim Cash Tate wrote an article recently that struck me, shared by my critique partner Sandra. Drawing on the recent protests against killings of unarmed young black men and women in Ferguson and elsewhere, she wrote how part of making #BlackLivesMatter is acknowledging that #BlackStoriesMatter. Without bitterness, she shares how her contract with a major Christian publishing house was not renewed—though her novels received critical acclaim—because her non-white characters just didn’t sell well enough. (A sadly recurring theme in the Christian market, as we talked about here a few months ago.)
I don’t fully understand why stories about non-white characters, whether in novels or films, still tend to be so marginalized. But I’m thankful for those that are being told. I just discovered an African-American author writing about little known segments of American history this week, and now I’m excited to read Piper Huguley’s historical novels!
And I’ve been realizing that’s one reason why I write the stories I do—to help tell those narratives that haven’t much been told, especially from American history.
In a different way, Mark Charles and his 5 Small Loaves team are also seeking to help tell stories that haven’t been told, seeking to create a national Truth Commission as a platform for Native Americans, African Americans, and others to be able to share about their often smoothed-over history in this nation. To help our country and the church face, lament over, and repent of wrongs that have been done and that still tear at our relationships and society today. To help us move towards truth, and eventually, reconciliation.
You can read Mark’s explanation of this project, and support this ministry here, if you’re so led.
So what do you think? Have you seen Selma, and what did it stir in your heart? What stories would you like to see told, on the screen or page? Please comment and share!
I did see Selma and it reminded me that we have to be bold and stand up wherever there is true injustice. It made me wonder why some churches are only preaching within the four walls.
There are so many good African-American Christian Fiction writers. Here are a few to consider adding to your reading list: Melinda Michelle, Vacirca Vaughn, Carla Terrell, Pat Simmons, Kendra Norman Holmes, Victor Christopher Murray, Lashanda Michelle and that is just a few I could think. Oh, I forgot Beulah Beneveu she has an amazing book out titled Bracie.
Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing, Deborah! That’s so true…Selma makes a huge point of the power of standing up, and standing together. Makes me wonder what I should be standing up for/against right now…
And thank you so much for the list of African-American Christian Fiction writers! I really appreciate it. My TBR list just keeps getting longer. 🙂
You have such keen insight on these matters! I admire your bold, courageous voice and your willingness to stand in the gap for those of us who might not otherwise be heard. Thank you for your role in social justice/racial reconciliation. For the last year, I’ve been meaning to share the link below with you and your readers. It’s a presentation on the danger of a single story by Nigerian writer/author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She share your belief on why stories from different cultures matter. Enjoy!
Thank you so much, Sandra…it is friends like you who inspire me. And thank you for the Ted talk link! It sounds wonderful. You’re always finding great new resources to help me learn more…thank you, friend.
Kiersti, I just love your heart. Thank you for sharing boldly about these issues. (And thank you for posting on my blog. I so appreciated your input.) I am currently studying the book of John and just finished chapter 17, in which Jesus prayed for the Body to be one. Oh, that we may pray that prayer continually. And may we take steps individually to make it so. You are taking those steps. Praising God for you. Many blessings to you, my sister!
Oh, Kim, what a lovely surprise and honor to find your comment here! Thank you so much for coming by and sharing. And that part in John 17 has given me hope for reconciliation so many times…for surely if Jesus prayed that we would all be one, that is a prayer that’s bound to come true, someday. Thank you again, and may the Lord bless you!