The Nashville sit-in movement quickly gained momentum and by the third sit-in on February 20th there were 350 students flooding downtown stores like that of Woolworth’s. With the extent of student involvement reaching numbers of 350, it is no wonder that fear began to ensue, resulting in the first incident of violence on February 27th, 1960 during the fourth sit-in. On this day 79 students were arrested. Remembering the ferocity of fear and racist actions taken against these students employing non-violent resistance, John Lewis explains, “Woolworth’s was the place where the first violence occurred….Pulling people, pushing people over the counter, throwing things, grinding out cigarettes on people, pouring ketchup in their hair, that type of thing. Then the cops moved in and started arresting people.”
In this scenario, prayerfully, we identify not with those who grind their cigarettes on people, but with those who are persecuted. For as this week’s lectionary text, Psalm 27, helps further unpack, God is not a God of the oppressor, but instead, profoundly, is a God of the oppressed.