Lynching: Michael Donald

While most think of lynchings as something from another era, lynchings while not as numerous went well into the 20th century. The last recorded lynching was on the 21st of March, 1981. The young man’s name was Michael Donald, and he was lynched at the age of 19.  Even though we no longer have lynchings occurring in our country currently, nooses have continued to be used as a sign of terror and intimidation in contemporary America. Should we just forget this history as so many have suggested? Freestyle with me…

Published by Drew G. I. Hart, PhD

Drew G. I. Hart is a theology professor in the Biblical & Religious Studies department at Messiah College with ten years of pastoral experience. Hart majored in Biblical Studies at Messiah College as an undergraduate student, he attained his M.Div. with an urban concentration from Missio Seminary in Philadelphia, and he received his Ph.D. in theology and ethics from Lutheran Theological Seminary-Philadelphia. Drew was born and raised in Norristown, Pa and has lived extensively in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA as well. Dr. Hart’s dissertation research explored how Christian discipleship, as framed by Black theologies and contemporary Anabaptist theologies, gesture the Church towards untangling the forces of white supremacy and the inertia of western Christendom which have plagued its witness in society for too long. As two traditions that emerged from the underside of violent and oppressive western Christian societies, he found Black theology and Anabaptism each repeatedly turning to the particularity of Jesus in the gospel narratives. From that arises an ethic of solidarity with the oppressed and pursuing liberation in Black theology and an ethic of radical peacemaking and ecclesial nonconformity in the Anabaptist tradition. Each challenge the violent and oppressive logics of mainstream western Christianity and salvage the call to follow the way of Christ. Together in dialogue they deepen our analysis of the churches failures and the need for Jesus-shaped repentance. His work beyond teaching and writing has included pastoring in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, working for an inner-city afterschool program for black and brown middle school boys, delivering lectures and leading anti-racism workshops, collaborating with local faith-based organizers and activists in his city, and doing a broad range of public theology. He is also a co-leader for a local Harrisburg faith-based relational network called FREE Together which has collaborated with POWER Interfaith, MILPA, the Shut Down Berks Detention Center movement, and a little with the Poor People’s Campaign. Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew Hart, has received great reviews by Publisher’s Weekly and Englewood Review of Books. Endorsing this resource, Shane Claiborne said, “This book is a gift from the heart of one of the sharpest young theologians in the United States. Hold it carefully, and allow it to transform you--and our blood-stained streets.” As a text, Trouble I’ve Seen utilizes personal and everyday stories, Jesus-shaped theological ethics, and anti-racism frameworks to transform the church’s understanding and social witness. Trouble I’ve Seen focuses on white supremacy as an overarching framework for understanding racism, with careful attention to its systemic and socializing dimensions. However, unlike sociology textbooks on the subject Dr. Hart also considers the subversive vocation of Jesus and the nonviolent yet revolutionary implications his life ought to have for his followers today. His newest book project is entitled Who Will Be a Witness?: Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance and will be published September 1, 2020. Who Will Be A Witness? invites the church to liberate its centuries long captivity to supremacist practices, and to expand its restricted political imagination in view of Jesus’ messianic reign. The book guides disciples of Jesus into joining God’s delivering presence through scriptural reasoning, historical reflection, practical theology for congregational life, social change theory, and the Christian call to love our neighbor. It is written for congregations, leaders, and students that understand that pursuing God’s justice goes way beyond waiting around for electoral seasons to come around. It is about the ongoing vocation of the Church right now, at the grassroots level, seeking after the wellbeing of their neighbors through faithful, strategic, and concrete action. Drew recently joined the Inverse Podcast team serving as a cohost along with Australian peace activist Jarrod Mckenna. Together they interview interesting people and explore how scripture can turn our ethical imagination and the violent and unjust systems of our world upside-down, which contrasts with interpreting the Bible as a tool for the status quo. Dr. Drew Hart was the recipient of bcmPEACE’s 2017 Peacemaker Award, a 2019 W.E.B. Dubois Award from a Disciples of Christ congregation, and in October 2019, Dr. Hart was chosen as Elizabethtown College’s 2019 Peace Fellow. Each award recognized him for his local and national justice work and public theology. You can find Drew Hart on Twitter and Facebook, or you can catch him as he travels and speaks regularly across the country to colleges, conferences, and churches. Drew and Renee, and their three boys (Micah, Dietrich, and Vincent) live in Harrisburg, PA and attend Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren.

11 thoughts on “Lynching: Michael Donald

  1. Drew,
    It hurts so much to see these pictures. It’s like looking at holocaust pictures–you know it happened, but it couldn’t really happen, could it?
    I thank God we are no longer there and commit myself to making the world a better place for every single person on the planet by promoting love and peace. I can’t do much, but I will do what I can do.
    I admire your work very much, Drew. Thank you for all that you do.

  2. I actually have seen it… in fact the first time was when I was there at the SPLC. It was also from them that I originally learned about Michael Donald’s story. They do lots of good work… but it is scary to see how many hate groups are out there and that they have been increasing at exponential rates in the last few years. It’s as though we are reverting back to the 50’s.

  3. They actually put out magazines, I believe they are monthly. As well if you are an educator, teacher, or leader of children or youth then you can get free resources (videos and posters that teach on civil rights and tolerance) from the SPLC. You should be able to subscribe or request all of those materials from their website

  4. My father was a patrolman when Michael Donald was murdered. Until the day he died, my father never spoke much of what happened that day, except to say that Tiger Knowles and the Hayes boys got exactly what was coming to them.

  5. This is very, very disturbing to not see, but imagine what this young man had to experience! The youth today needs to appreciate and respect the life they are living toay. If this man and others who can come back and tell there story maybe people will stop the evil that is happening!! Mr. Donald is FREE and GOD will take care of the evil doers on judgment day!

  6. It vex my spirit to even hear of hate crime such as this. .but one thing I noticed about kkk is they never did anything by themselves and their faces was always covered me thats cowardly and that’s no way to say your a man …that was back then try it now and see what happens

Leave a Reply to dee dee Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: