A group of about 30 religious figures from around the country gathered in Charlottesville as a symbolic starting point to talk about race in the country, with a focus on inequalities that they feel sometimes go unaddressed by other religious activists.
But they have no intention of staying in the Virginia.
These leaders, beginning what they call “Walk the Walk 2020,” are headed to D.C. with the goal of arriving on the National Mall next Friday in time to participate in the March on Washington organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton.
“We heard loud and clear from, particularly Black clergy, that as white faith leaders and clergy we need to step up and take more responsibility for the scourge of white supremacy and anti-blackness that has marked far too much of our heritage as people of faith in our country,” said Troy Jackson, the state strategies director of Faith In Action.
“It continues to mar far too many of our congregations today in 2020,” the Ohio-based pastor said.
After a prayer service in the morning, Jackson and others planned to visit parts of Charlottesville that include the place where Heather Heyer was fatally run over by a white supremacist, as well as a former slave auction block, before they begin marching up U.S. Route 29. They expect to be walking 12 to 18 miles a day.
“We’re going to be looking at eight-to-nine-hour days just with the walking. We are going to have some programming, some learning. We’ll be doing some reflecting together every morning, every evening,” Jackson said.
“Part of what we’re trying to do is disentangle whiteness and racism and anti-blackness, and even white supremacy, from our theology and from how we do church, and how we engage in the culture, from what it means we believe to truly and authentically follow Jesus.”
The group has plans to stop in Mannassas, Annandale and Alexandria in the days leading up to next Friday.
On Friday, Aug. 28, they’ll head up the Mount Vernon Trail across the Potomac and to the Jefferson Memorial. People who want to join the walk for the final leg of the journey can meet the group at 7 a.m. at the Rivergate City Park in Alexandria. You can register on the group’s website.
The group will then walk to Black Lives Matter Plaza to end its program before walking back to the Lincoln Memorial to join other demonstrators gathering there on the anniversary of the original March on Washington.
“Nine days of walking ahead of us,” said Jackson. “About 120 to 125 miles, somewhere in there.”
People who live along the route are also welcomed to join the walk any day and encouraged to register online.