Resolution #3: Support for the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act



Accepted by the Committee on Resolutions August 4th, 2020
Updated by the Secretary of the Convention October 16th, 2020


Resolved, That the 171st Convention of the Diocese of California recognizes that lynching and the threat of lynching continues to pose a grave and ever-present danger to the Black and Brown people of the United States; 

Resolved, That this Diocese recognizes that lynching and the threat of lynching constitutes nothing less than conspiratorial racial terrorism designed to subjugate Black and Brown people to white supremacy through a series of targeted brutal acts upon one or more persons by a mob as a message of total and final domination; 

Resolved, That this Diocese exhorts the United States Senate in the strongest possible terms to promptly pass the Emmett Till Antilynching Act (HR 35) in substantially the form passed by the House of Representatives, and directs the Secretary of the Convention to arrange for the transmittal of this resolution to each of the two senators of California in support of said Act within 21 days; 

Resolved, That the Diocese of California hereby creates a permanent Healing the Racial Divide Committee for the purpose of creating tangible opportunities to atone for our complacency towards the dehumanization of Black and Brown people and for reconciliation in recognition that we are all created in the image of God; and

Resolved, That the Healing the Racial Divide Committee consists of a chair, 3 lay members, 3 clergy members, and up to 2 additional members who are experienced in working toward racial equity and are not employed by the Diocese, its congregations, or any associated bodies, all to be appointed by the chair of the Afro-Anglican Commission with the concurrence of the Archdeacon most senior in vocational diaconal service; and that $15,000 be allocated yearly for the implementation of its duties. 


And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?  Micah 6:8

We are all inheritors of multi-generational trauma. We are all inheritors of the great chasm of racial divide.  The time for action is now. We are all inheritors, but we who believe that every human being is created in the image of God are choosing to no longer be spectators. We refuse to participate through silence and inaction.  We are called upon to use our voices, to build relationships and to unify. 

In the famous words of Thomas Jefferson when he wrote The Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  Sadly not only historically but presently, most in the Black population have not started life in conditions that promote these ideals.  One of the conditions that suppresses, traumatizes, and continuously re-traumatizes African Americans is the chronic and real threat to personal safety.  While the definition of lynching was once relegated to the end-result of executioner-style hanging, the actual act of lynching is a series of brutal acts committed against the body involving beatings, torture, maiming, dismemberment, burning, murder, and desecration, including using parts of the body as souvenirs or as trophies. These cruel and brutal acts have produced an atmosphere of terror in the hearts of African Americans, limit the physical movements of African Americans and continue to subjugate African Americans to white American interests.  Unfortunately, African Americans and white Americans, though they may reside in the same neighborhoods, often live in two different worlds, having different sets of rules, treatment, and quality of life. 

Terrorism through vigilantism sends a message to all Americans that Black and Brown people have reduced roles, reduced economic opportunities, and reduced resources.  Now is the time to stand with all people regardless of skin color to uphold the American values that we consider to be “self-evident” by boldly acknowledging lynching as an everyday occurrence and by standing as a Diocese with one unified voice in favor of The Emmett Till Antilynching Act.

Within the last 100 years, there have been almost 200 attempts to pass an antilynching act in Congress, and yet each attempt has been blocked by either the House of Representatives or the Senate.[1]  On February 26, 2020, The Emmett Till Antilynching Act passed the House by a vote of 410-4[2].  On the day of George Floyd’s funeral, the Senate had the opportunity to make the passing of the first antilynching act a symbol and legislative contradiction to the heart wrenching institutional murder of Mr. Floyd, but the Senate failed to act yet again.  

Considering that Congress has continuously failed the American people, we Episcopalians have the moral responsibility and Christian duty to take concrete action to ensure that atonement, reconciliation, and creating a sustainable transformational atmosphere of safety is an ongoing priority.  Of the 4,743 lynchings that have taken place between 1882-1968, 72.7% have been attacks against African Americans, mostly males.[3]  Many additional lynchings have been recorded as “suicides.”[4] The impact upon Black bodies is not just reserved for lynched victims, but upon their families, their friends, and the Black community at large, including clergy. Trauma is built into our bodies through this domestic terrorism.  The traumatization affects people of every “color.”

We are all inheritors of racial trauma.  Let us embody Thomas Jefferson’s words that all are created equal, let us as The Body of Christ come together to unify, to bridge, and to heal this racial divide. We are reminded of the words of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it, is really cooperating with it.”  

[1] Why it took a Century to Pass an Anti-Lynching Law, Washington Post, December 28, 2018 Louis P. Masuro

[2] H.R. 35:  Emmett Till Antilynching Act 22 July 2020

[3] Lynchings by State and Race, 1882-1968 22 July 2020

[4] How White Americans Used Lynching to Terrorize and Control Black People. The Guardian by Jamiles Lartey and Sam Morris, 26 Apr 2018


The Rev. Jennifer C. Nelson,

Submitted by

The Rev. Jennifer C. Nelson, Deacon of St. Clare’s, Pleasanton and St. Bartholomew’s, Livermore and Co-Chair of the Union of Black Episcopalians Vivian Traylor Northern California Chapter and member of the Afro-Anglican Commission

Endorsed by

The Rev. Mauricio Wilson, Rector, St. Paul’s, Oakland, Chair of the Afro-Anglican Commission and Western Regional President of the Union of Black Episcopalians; The Rev. Ronald Culmer, Rector of St. Clare’s, Pleasanton; The Rev. Andrew Lobban, Rector of St. Bartholomew’s, Livermore; The Rev. Eric Metoyer, Rector of St. Francis, San Francisco; The Rev. Jill Honodel, St. Aidan’s, Bolinas; The Rev. Justin Canon, Rector of All Saints, San Leandro

UNION OF BLACK EPISCOPALIANS, Northern California/Vivian Traylor Chapter
Members and Patrons representing the Diocese of California, Diocese of El Camino, Diocese of Northern California, and the Diocese of San Joaquin

Ms Jeanette Dinwiddie-Moore, co-chair
Ms Jeri Robinson, Treasurer
Michelle Mayfield-Baske, Secretary
Ms Saundra Anderson
Ms Mary Borders
Ms Carlette Dorsey
Ms Victoria Fussell
Ms Carolyn Gaines
Mrs. E.J. Hilliard
Dr. Cassandra Joubert
Ms Deborah Moses
Dr. Laura Natta
Ms. Brenda Paulin

Mr. Stephen Tiffenson
Ms Barbara Vassell
Ms Diane Williams

The Rev. Lori Walton, Rector of St. James, Fremont


The Ven. Cn. Nina Pickerell, Archdeacon, Grace Cathedral
The Ven. Archdeacon Carolyn Bolton, St. Paul’s, Oakland
The Ven. Archdeacon Margaret Dyer Chamberlain, St. Aiden’s, San Francisco
The Ven. Archdeacon Dorothy Jones (Ret.), St. Stephen’s, Belvedere
The Ven. Archdeacon David Stickley, Holy Innocents, San Francisco


The Rev. Deacon Ellen Ekstrom (Ret.), Good Shepherd, Berkeley
The Rev. Deacon Mary Louise Hintz, All Souls, Berkeley
The Rev. Deacon Katherine Salinaro, Christ the Lord, Pinole

The Rev. Deacon Naomi Chamberlain-Harris, St. Anselm’s, Lafayette
The Rev. Deacon Walter Ramsey, Grace, Martinez
The Rev. Deacon Margaretmary Staller, St. Paul’s, Walnut Creek

The Rev. Deacon Alberta Buller, Christ Church, Sausalito
The Rev. Deacon Jim Goss (Ret.), Church of the Nativity, San Rafael
The Rev. Deacon Jan Heglund, St. Columba’s, Inverness

The Rev. Deacon Rebecca Morehouse, Church of the Nativity, Novato

The Rev. Deacon Hailey McKeefry Delmans, Transfiguration, San Mateo
The Rev. Deacon Elizabeth Milner, St. Mark’s, Palo Alto

The Rev. Deacon Davidson Bidwell Waite, Grace Cathedral
The Rev. Deacon Catherine Costas, St. Aiden’s, San Francisco
The Rev. Deacon Margaret Deeths, Grace Cathedral

The Rev. Deacon T. Vincent Jang, Church of the Advent of Christ the King, San Francisco
The Rev. Nancy Pennekamp, San Francisco State Campus Ministry
The Rev. Deacon Scot Sherman, Grace Cathedral
The Rev. Deacon Timothy Smith, St. Mary the Virgin, San Francisco

The Rev. Deacon Catherine Costas
The Rev. Pamela Jester, All Saints, San Leandro


It seems to me that supporting the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act is the very least any reasonable person should do. As Christians we have a much greater obligation to seek racial justice but we should also support this bill. And, creating a Healing the Racial Divide Committee will help ensure we don't stop there.

This legislation passed by a vote of Yes - 220 and No - 0.

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