People in the Howell area gathered Thursday night at the First Presbyterian Church for a special “prayer service for racial harmony and peace,” singing hymns, reciting prayers, and listening to a sermon by Pastor Judi McMillan.
McMillan says she decided to hold the service to help the many people in her congregation who are feeling distressed after seeing the racial violence in Charlottesville.
They want to know what to do, she says.
“We need to speak out against it,” says McMillan, “and remind people we are intentionally diverse and we’re not all meant to be the same, and essentially call out white supremacy. This is wrong. This is evil.”
Linda Marth drove to the service from nearby Pinckney. She says Howell has a reputation as an intolerant place.
“We just want people to know that there are a lot of white people that do not feel that way,” says Marth, “and that we’re accepting of anyone that’s in our country.”
“It’s becoming acceptable to be racist and say racist things,” says Marth’s friend, Kathy Stark. “In fact, one of my friends lives in Saline, and he is an African-American man and he was coaching his son last night, and as someone was driving by, he shouted the “n” word at him and his son. I figured, I wasn’t there, I couldn’t stand up for him then, but I can stand up now.”
Pastor McMillan says just because someone is white and lives in a white community, doesn’t mean they can’t fight racism. She says it’s important for people not to be silent, and to confront racism in their daily lives, in conversations with family, friends and neighbors.