A statement from the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral:

Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Christian Cooper. George Floyd. 

We must say the names of our African American brothers and sisters who, because of the color of their skin, are subjected to suspicion, harassment and even death. We must say their names because their names are known to God. 

Whether on the streets of suburban Georgia, a Louisville bedroom, the wooded pathways of Central Park or a sidewalk in downtown Minneapolis, we must confront the ugliness of racism whenever it robs an innocent person of life or dignity. We cannot, and we must not, turn away. 

Those of us in white America need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. We need to honestly acknowledge the privileges afforded us based on the color of our skin — not out of guilt, but out of responsibility. We must see the casual bigotry that dulls our sense of injustice. We cannot ignore the centuries of systematic oppression that keeps our African American sisters and brothers literally pinned to the ground.

I take for granted that I can walk down the street free of suspicion or fear; such a simple luxury is unknown to millions of Americans. Together, we must own the anxiety a family of color feels when they have to coach their children on how to survive an encounter with law enforcement. And while violence is never the answer, the flames in Minneapolis reflect the disenchantment and hopelessness that burns in the hearts of those who suffer because of their race.

Our obligation to truth demands a confession that too many people make too many decisions, large and small, based on the color of another’s skin rather than the content of their character. God’s justice compels us to move toward something better than where we are and who we have become. 

I pray that when we look in the mirror we do not like what we see. I pray that our conscience is stirred to say “Enough.” I pray we are challenged to change and moved to act. We need to make others’ pain our own, for we cannot change something we refuse to acknowledge. 

It is not enough to feel bad. It is insufficient to leave the change to others. We are long past that point, and may God grant us the courage to realize it and act. 

Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Christian Cooper. George Floyd. We must never stop saying their names because God never stops loving them, and in God’s mercy, God never stops loving us. 

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tony Franquiz, 202-374-5393, [email protected]


About Washington National Cathedral Grounded in the reconciling love of Jesus Christ, Washington National Cathedral is a house of prayer for all people, conceived by our founders to serve as a great church for national purposes.