Mathews speaker addresses ‘justice for all’
Joszette Forrest-Jones of Detroit returned to her Mathews roots over the weekend to serve as keynote speaker for the Mathews chapter of NAACP’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.
Speaking on the theme “And Justice for All” at the Sunday afternoon service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Cobbs Creek, Forrest-Jones reminded the congregation that there was a time when African Americans were considered three-fifths human, and she pointed out that when the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were written, African-Americans “were not even counted in the number of that ‘all’ category.”
Today, she said, there is an African American president “in a nation in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them.”
“When Obama won, we felt proud and strong and said finally it’s our time,” said Forrest-Jones. “We felt that now we are included in the ‘all’ of that statement, ‘and justice for all.’”
But the families of unarmed African-American men who have been killed by police in recent high-profile cases “would argue the ‘and justice for all,’” said Forrest-Jones. She said that the black citizens of Ferguson had felt that a crime had been committed when a young man was killed by police there, and that “that same governing body that was supposed to protect them, had failed them … had become the enemy.
“I imagine most of us in here can attest to a time and/or situation when injustice was pure and blatant in our faces,” she said, “and we felt that justice just does not include us.”
Forrest-Jones posed the question, “How do we live with this? How do we do what Jesus did?” And she answered with a quote from Jesus in the book of Matthew, “‘But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.’”
In Mathews County, said Forrest-Jones, “there is a harmony amongst the citizens … the deputy that may pull you over may be someone you went to high school with, or their daddy might have worked with your daddy or your mama may have worked in their houses or catered their family gatherings … (But) in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’”