Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Racism - Stop It!

March 21st has been designated International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by the United Nations (first observed in 1966). The date is significant because of an incident on March 21, 1960, in Sharpeville, South Africa. On that day, a group gathered for a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid “pass laws” when police opened fire and killed 69 people. “Pass laws” were designed to further segregate the population of South Africa by limiting the movement of non-whites. They were forced to carry pass books on them when traveling outside of their compounds or designated areas. Request to produce the pass could be made by any white person and failure to provide the pass could result in arrest.

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) released a press release today encouraging all member congregations and organizations around the world to observe International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21. The BWA publicly condemned the systemic racism found in South African apartheid. In 1985, the 15th Baptist World Congress held in Los Angeles, California, in the United States, resolved that “we believe that it is our duty in the name of God to denounce this system [apartheid] and all who practice or support it.” Further to that, the General Council issued a resolution in 1986 stating that the BWA “expresses its solidarity with the leaders and others in that country who are struggling for a just social order through a multi-racial government based on majority rule, especially with those who are suffering in that struggle.”

The first decade of the 21st Century was designated by the BWA as a Decade to Promote Racial Justice. This was an opportunity for the member bodies to help eradicate racism and ethnic conflict. Our Convention Council took up this challenge by appointing the Racism Working Group in 2001. Including representation from the African United Baptist Association (AUBA), the group’s mandate was to address racism and promote racial justice in our churches and to hold the Council and Assembly accountable for maintaining a commitment to the mandate.

We encourage all our churches to recognize and observe March 21 as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

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