Life Examined: Black Lives Matter as a spiritual movement

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The mural, located on the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue South in Minneapolis, is the work of artists Xena Goldman, Cadex Herrera, and Greta McLain. The group started working on the mural on Thursday morning and finished it within 12 hours with the help of artists Niko Alexander and Pablo Hernandez. Photo by Lorie Shaull/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

A recent episode of “Life Examined” looks at how Black Lives Matter began as a secular movement, but spirituality informed its fight for justice. 

Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, says the civil rights movement holds roots in spirituality and religion, and today, the organization sees spirituality as foundational and a way to ground and energize its members. 

“We’re there for a reckoning. We’re there because spirit commands that we be there. Black Lives Matter is run through the love of people, and this is the conscious reclamation of Black Lives Matter as a spiritual movement. We call this our sacred duty. … It’s what we are summoned in to do,” Abdullah says.

Hebah Farrag, an assistant director of research at the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture, says that progressive social movements like BLM are an interplay between personal politics and spiritual beliefs, which can fall in line with the values of organized religion. 

“[It’s] the inherent nature of human dignity, and the duty to fight against injustice. … Those are spiritual values that lie at the heart of almost all faith traditions,” Farrang says.

Credits

Guests:
Melina Abdullah - professor in the Department of Pan-African Studies at Cal State LA, and organizer of the Black Lives Matter movement - @DocMellyMel, Hebah Ferrag - Assistant director of research of the University of Southern California Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

Host:
Jonathan Bastian

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Angie Perrin, Caleigh Wells