The Reverend Jonathan Tremaine Thomas says an African-American like him, who is married to a white women can lose his “black card.” Thomas says he decided to “sell out” again and moved from Indianapolis to St. Louis in 2014.
Thomas decided to move after visiting Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 in the aftermath of protests following the shooting death of Michael Brown. Thomas says he and his wife “wanted to sell everything” when they saw what was happening in Ferguson. Thomas is now a pastor at Destiny Church in St. Louis. He is the keynote speaker for the Kalamazoo Northside Ministerial Alliance’s 32nd annual Martin Luther King Junior Celebration. It begins at 4:00 Sunday afternoon at Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
Although he says Ferguson has a “long way to go,” Thomas says there has been progress. He says we live in a “microwave culture” where people want things quickly. But Thomas says change takes time. However, there have been setbacks along the way. This past fall there were several nights of protests in St. Louis after the acquittal of officer Jason Stockley in a 2011 fatal shooting of African-American Anthony Lamar Smith. Thomas says the acquittal was a reminder of a history of injustice. He says there is a hopelessness about the American justice system. Thomas says new methods are needed. He says the protests and sit-ins from the civil rights movement are the default when people see injustice.
Thomas says it helps to see how the world changed because of railroads. He says they made the world smaller, and connected places that were worlds apart. Thomas says Ferguson was established as a railroad stop, and he says the two different pieces of iron side by side can connect us to a destination that we share.