Bishop Stokes’ accepts the NJ Institute for Social Justice Community Builder Award on behalf on New Jersey Faith Allies for a Reparations Task Force—Say the Word at a ceremony on Oct. 16, 2022.
Dear People and Friends of the Diocese of New Jersey,
Does the name Darnella Frazier mean anything to you?
This past Monday night, I had the privilege of attending the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice’s 17th Annual Gala Dinner. I was listed as an “honoree” along with Rabbi Joel Abraham of Temple Sholom in Scotch Plains, The Reverend Darrell Armstrong of Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton, Reverend Anya Sammler-Michael of the Unitarian Universalist Congregations at Montclair, Iamn Wahy-ud Deen Shareef, Convener of the Council of Imans in New Jersey and Rabbi David Vaisberg of Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston. In truth, the designation of this group of clergy people as “honorees” was symbolic. The actual honorees were members of the which is comprised of many members, representing a wide variety of faith groups across the State of New Jersey.
I had initiated this group at the instigation of Ryan Haygood, Executive Director of NJISJ. He and the Institute felt there was a need for an alliance to organize actions by the larger faith community advocating passage of the New Jersey Reparations Task Force Bills (A938 and S386). Here I must acknowledge the hard work of Canons Barbie Bach, Annette Buchanan and Noreen Duncan who, at that time, were Co-Chairs of our own Diocese of New Jersey Reparations Task Force. I turned to them to help me get the New Jersey Faith Allies off the ground. They immediately responded and did outstanding work in getting the organization off the ground and running. I am deeply thankful for their support and tireless efforts. New Jersey Faith Allies for a Reparations Task Force—Say the Word, was awarded a “Community Builder Award” by NJISJ.
Although Canon Buchanan was not able to be present, Canons Bach and Duncan joined me, along with Canon Clara Gregory, Canons Karen and Ted Moore, Canon Paul and Catherine Ambos, The Reverend Megan Thomas, and Canon Phyllis Jones from the Diocese of New Jersey at the NJISJ Gala on Monday night. It was a lovely evening. I think I speak for us all when I tell you that the highlight of the evening came at the end, when the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice presented a “National Racial Justice Champion Award” to Ms. Darnella Frazier.
On May 20, 2020, 17-year-old Darnella Frazier was walking to a local grocery store in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her 9-year-old cousin when the two came upon the scene of police brutalizing George Floyd. Ms. Frazier told her cousin to go into the store while she took out her smart phone and began to video record the horrific crime taking place in front of her. Twenty seconds after she began filming the encounter, George Floyd gasped, “I can’t breathe.”
Ms. Frazier’s video account of the event is more than ten minutes long and became a key piece of evidence in convicting the involved police officers as well as in allowing the American people to witness raw footage of police brutality and criminality, something that has occurred too frequently in American life without any witnesses or accountability.
Darnella Frazier not only had presence of mind that sad day in May of 2020, she showed courage and character as she stood and recorded an act of brutality. Her video ignited a movement in this country and around the world. Because of this, she was awarded a Special Pulitzer Award and Citation for Civic Journalism. Her quick thinking and courage are proof that one person can change the world. Those of us gathered on Monday night were humbled to honor her.
Blessings and peace.
The Right Reverend William H. Stokes
Bishop of New Jersey
Darnella Frazier, who at 17 video recorded the murder of Georg Floyd at the hands of police and set off a worldwide action against police brutality, accepts New Jersey Institute for Social Justice a “National Racial Justice Champion Award” on Oct. 16, 2022: