Kansas Citians Line Troost Avenue In Prayer And Solidarity Amid Calls For Racial Justice
Churches across Kansas City on Friday night organized PrayOnTroost, an hour of prayer, reflection and conversation on ways to heal and move forward on issues of racial justice.
Hundreds of Kansas Citians on Friday evening spanned portions of Troost Avenue in solidarity against racial injustice and to commemorate Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Some participants engaged in prayer while others waved to passing automobiles and encouraged them to honk in support.
Pray on Troost was organized by the Concerned Clergy Coalition of KC, a group composed of pastors and ministers throughout the metropolitan area, to help heal the racial divide through acts of faith.
“This isn't a rally and this isn’t a protest,” Pastor Cassandra Wainwright of the Concerned Clergy Coalition told KCUR. “We are coming together, we are unifying to lift up our voices in prayer and saying publicly that we believe in God and that he will bless our efforts to be part of racial healing.”
Wainwright said meeting on Troost and holding the rally on Juneteenth would only help elevate their message.
“I have written ‘Unity’ on my mask because as we stand here on the racial dividing line of Kansas City, commemorating Juneteenth and the end of slavery, we are uniting to say we can make a difference,” he said.
Wainwright said participants were inspired by Civil Righteousness, a prayer movement started by Pastor Jonathan Tremaine Thomas in Ferguson, Missouri, during the social unrest there six years ago.
“We must first allow ourselves to feel each others’ pain and lament together, and then we can move to implementation, legislation and all the reforms we need,” Thomas said.
Not every local activist was on board with the event. “Mama” Hakima Payne of Uzazi Village said it had been co-opted by a largely white support base.
“It still smacks of white saviorism,” she said. “Folks can just come down, say a quick prayer. It’s symbolism, which isn’t the same as doing something about social inequity.”
Instead, Mama Hakima organized “Dialog On Troost,” a counter-conversation aimed at encouraging those praying to think about what sort of concrete action they could take beyond acts of faith.
Jeremy Ruzich, a participant in Dialog on Troost, said he was skeptical of PrayOnTroost but encouraged by the diversity and commitment he saw.
“People were willing to talk about how they will help make change beyond the moment, beyond the prayer,” he said.
But C.C. Brown, who was among those who came to pray, said she felt it was a necessary first step in the healing process.
“Social reform, political reform and police reform will not heal this land,” Brown said. “We have to return to the power of prayer.”