Hear Our Voice: Cease-Fire in Gaza


Among the multitude of Americans calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, hundreds of Black faith leaders, myself included, urgently plead for an end to the horrific violence devastating civilian life. Despite our deep connection to voters in our communities, our voices go unheard.

In her piece for the New York Times, Black Pastors Pressure Biden to Call for a Cease-Fire in Gaza, Maya King writes,

“More than 1,000 Black pastors representing hundreds of thousands of congregants nationwide have issued the demand. In sit-down meetings with White House officials, and through open letters and advertisements, ministers have made a moral case for President Biden and his administration to press Israel to stop its offensive operations in Gaza, which have killed thousands of civilians. They are also calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas and an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

The effort at persuasion also carries a political warning, detailed in interviews with a dozen Black faith leaders and their allies. Many of their parishioners, these pastors said, are so dismayed by the president’s posture toward the war that their support for his re-election bid could be imperiled.”

How many more Black pastors must advocate for an end to death and destruction before the Biden administration takes decisive action in a conflict that has claimed an estimated 30,000 Palestinian lives, including over 12,000 children? 

The education of an estimated 625,000 children in Palestine has been disrupted indefinitely, with “no prospect of reopening.” Damage that cannot be calculated is mounting.

I am deeply grieved by leaders who pursue and rely upon the votes of Black Americans, yet can so easily dismiss the appeals and demands of Black clergy and the communities we represent. Where is this same energy when it comes to our worries, our dreams, and our desire for safety and thriving? As bombs (paid for with our tax dollars) fall on churches, mosques, schools, hospitals, and community centers, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words resonate: “We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

This goes beyond a moral imperative; it is deeply personal. Many Black Americans recognize the suffering of Palestinians as closely bound to our own experiences in the United States. Black clergy demand a cease-fire and the release of hostages because they know all too well the ways that cycles of violence leave regular people dead, despondent, and bankrupt in myriad ways, often for generations. As one of my clergy friends often says, “We are in a death-dealing culture.” We must free ourselves from it the best we can.

As the leader of an organization that mobilizes faith-motivated people, I recognize the power of collective voice in the pursuit of freedom, even when these voices are not consistently prioritized. Social change is the result of collective action, addressing the needs of those marginalized by power brokers. This election season holds immense significance for the future of U.S. democracy. Black faith leaders have no interest in being courted for our votes and then tokenized immediately afterward. Elected leaders at every level must hear us.

Zakiya Jackson
President, The Expectations Project

March 29, 2024
The Expectations Project

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