(OUTLOOK) The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has a series of big meetings planned in Missouri – including the next General Assembly June 16-23 in St. Louis – all coming up as the NAACP has issuing a warning about the safety of African-Americans traveling in the state.
In October the PC(USA) will hold a series of meetings in St. Louis for mid council leaders: the Association of Mid Council Leaders and Association of Stated Clerks and the Moderators’ Conference (all October 13-14) and the Mid Council Leaders Gathering (formerly the Fall Polity Conference), which is being held Oct. 15-17 and is co-sponsored by the Office of the General Assembly and the Board of Pensions.
The PC(USA) also held Big Tent 2017 at Washington University in St. Louis – focused on the theme Race, Reconcilation, Reformation – from July 6-8.
Now the Missouri chapter of the NAACP has issued a travel advisory for people of color traveling in Missouri, after Missouri’s governor Eric Greitens signed legislation making it harder to prove workplace and housing discrimination in court. The travel advisory cites that legislation as well as incidents involving people of color in the state, and states that those traveling in Missouri “are advised to travel with extreme CAUTION. Race, gender and color based crimes have a long history in Missouri.”
The Missouri chapter of the NAACP issued the advisory in June, and the national NAACP issued a statement on the travel advisory Aug. 2, calling for “African American travelers, visitors and Missourians to pay special attention and exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the state given the series of questionable, race-based incidents occurring statewide recently.”
In response, the General Assembly Meeting Service has issued this statement:
On August 2, 2017, the NAACP announced a Travel Advisory for African American travelers in Missouri. This travel alert, the NAACP said, “calls for African American travelers, visitors and Missourians to pay special attention and exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the state given the series of questionable, race-based incidents occurring statewide recently …” [for NAACP news release see http://www.naacp.org/latest/travel-advisory-state-missouri/ ]
The Office of the General Assembly is deeply involved in planning for several large meetings to be held in St. Louis including the 223rdGeneral Assembly in June, 2018. The OGA is committed to ensuring that everyone, including people of color and other potentially marginalized participants have a safe, respectful experience wherever they travel.
In response to the travel alert, the Office of the General Assembly has initiated conversations with our partners in the St. Louis area about ways to influence the NAACP-identified climate of injustice and to provide safeguards for everyone traveling in Missouri. It is our belief that the theme of the 223rd General Assembly, “Kindom Building in the 21st Century” is lived out when we take advantage of this opportunity to promote a community of safety and justice for all.