STEUBENVILLE - The Rev. Calvin McLoyd, pastor of the Second Baptist Church, felt a personal need to speak out about the Trayvon Martin case and verdict during last week's Sunday services.
McLoyd said he will talk about the case again during his next Sunday sermon when he calls upon his congregation, "to know who they are."
"We need to understand who we are. And to not consider ourselves less than others but equal to other people. I will also encourage everybody to not look at this situation as a defeat but look at it as a teaching moment. If we can get to the teaching moment we can start growing," McLoyd explained.
SENDING A MESSAGE — The Rev. Calvin McLoyd, pastor of the Second Baptist Church, stands in the church sanctuary. McLoyd said the shooting of Trayvon Martin and subsequent trial and verdict was personal for him. McLoyd preached about the case last Sunday and will continue his call for conversation and dialog at Sunday services. — Dave Gossett
And McLoyd called for dialog and open conversation.
"It must be honest and open and it will expose some issues. There are some people who may prefer to not deal with this. In order to change our culture we need to have open conversation - conversation that is not accusatory," stated McLoyd during an interview at the church.
"The congregation here, as in many churches, is still angry by what happened in Florida. But we all need to be open to the teaching moment. Anger can be a a bad thing. But it can also be a good thing if you appreciate it as a teachable moment. We don't need retaliation. We need a dialog," McLoyd said.
The 65-year-old McLoyd told his Second Baptist Church congregation Sunday that as a young man growing up in rural Alabama he could have easily been Trayvon Martin.
"I grew up in the country outside of Columbia, Ala., in the cradle of the South. I didn't harbor resentment. I went into the military and then to George C. Wallace Community College and Troy State University," said McLoyd.
"Back in the day there were people called Night Riders who would come up behind you and bump your car. Normally you would pull off to see what happened to your car and then you would be in trouble. My father may not have had a lot of education but he had a lot of common sense. He would tell me if someone bumps you then you should get out of there and make your way home. When you get close to the house honk your horn and I will meet force with force," related McLoyd.
"One night I was driving and a policeman thought I ran a stop sign and he came after me. I didn't know he was the police so I took off trying to get home. After several minutes I saw cars pulling off to the side of the road. I looked up in the mirror and saw the flashing lights so I stopped. That officer ran up to my car with his revolver in his hand and yelled for me to get out of the car. After he asked my name he said he knew my father. He told me to have my father come see him the next day and bring $20 for the ticket," McLoyd continued.
"I went home and told my father what happened and he wanted to go see the police officer that night but my mother told him to wait until the next day. My father went to see the police the next day and they let me off with a warning. But now 50 years later I realize I could have been Trayvon Martin. I look at how this child was profiled. And because he had a hoodie on he is profiled as a danger. But he was an outstanding kid. Don't assume because a person is dressed in a fashion they are associated with a certain group of people. We need to understand who that person is before we judge them," said McLoyd.
"I am asking the community to not over react. Let justice be served. I personally thought the verdict would have been different. But I have to respect our judicial system. Our justice system may have flaws but it is the best system. And I think we can continue to make improvements," he noted.
"I grew up in a segregated era. I remember the colored restrooms and the 'whites only' signs. It was accepted and the law guaranteed it. I knew people who went missing. I know people who were beaten. And I knew people who were accused of raping white women. They went to prison and never came back. I graduated in 1967 from a segregated high school. Three years later I went back and the school was desegregated. Not integrated but desegregated," McLoyd stated.
As a sociology and psychology professor at Eastern Gateway Community College, McLoyd said his students talk about racial equality.
"We talk about segregation and we talk about integration. But we are not an integrated society. We are desegregated because the law has changed. But the spirit of segregation still reigns. Our schools are desegregated because the law said they can't be separate but equal," McLoyd said.
"After living in Steubenville for the past 22 years I have to say there is racism here. It is more covert than overt, but I don't say that to be negative. I say it to be constructive. I have observed things that are covert. And covert racism is more detrimental than overt racism. I have had people tell me they remember when they couldn't go to certain places in town. In the South you knew where you weren't allowed to go," McLoyd said.
"There are many positive things in Steubenville that we have to be proud about. Our city school system is really a positive point. And in addition to the school system we have Eastern Gateway Community College and Franciscan University of Steubenville. We probably have the best overall education system for a community our size in the country," commented McLoyd.
"I don't think we will see racism end in our lifetime. It will take people of good will to get racism out of our country and our lives. But our kids and grandkids will see a different world. I still believe in what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said when he preached, 'an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere'. We need to understand we are all a part of God's family. And God doesn't have stepchildren. We are all his children. I am proud to serve a black congregation. We we must not judge others by their color," remarked McLoyd.
"Know who you are, the Lord told Solomon in Chronicles. We need to understand who we are. If my daughter gives me a grandchild there will not be any hatred or bigotry in that child. I look at everyone as my grandchildren.
"This is where my heart is. This has affected me personally because what I came through growing up. But I am not bitter. What I learned has made me a better person. And there are people of good will everywhere," McLoyd said.