A photo of the inside of a colt Church
credit: Nheyo / Wikimedia commons

The United States of America was founded by a people already in sanctuary. That is who we are. That is what the Constitution is all about. Of course, that does not mean a haven of freedom for those whose selfishness and greed usurps the agreeance to live in a more socially just society. For example, the crime bosses, terrorists of any persuasion, race color, gender or creed, drug dealers, marketeers and their degrading multilevel marketing pyramids which enslaves low-end street sellers in a modern day high-technology non-government Jim Crow, are not included in this philosophical and conceptually accepted consensus. Thank goodness they are not the majority but the few. Primarily, our system gives the benefit of the doubt and innocence until proven guilty. Yes, we must fight those that would destroy and lead by illegal and political despotism. But, as I stated before, they are the few – outweighed by the humanity of our basically moral majority and rule. What we have now – with flexing muscles, verbal stances and a push to enact a zero tolerance without due process – is a challenge to our existence as a nation and as individuals. Actually, what this is, is fear. We, the people of the District of Columbia, thrived pre-Civil War and until its end, as a city of sanctuary for the enslaved. Yet, by law at the same time, we still allowed other families in the District to own slaves. In fact members of the U.S. Congress used to jail and chain their slaves in a building between 5th and 6th Streets, on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. This took place in full view of the U.S. Capitol, all because they feared the valuable property would escape to the sanctuary of the city. This building is still standing. When I got to see the inside, during a visit in the 1970s, the cells, bars and chains were still there. Can you imagine! We achieved freedom through the leadership of Abraham Lincoln, abolitionists and other decent elected officials. Sanity and common sense won. Let us not transfer old practices and stale thinking into a rebirthed controlled, contained and brainwashed nation. Washington, D.C. rose to its success because of sanctuary. The history of the black church, Howard University, D.C. Teachers College, the University of the District of Columbia and the thousands who migrated here during both World War I and World War II, despite the tag, poverty and depravity of segregation, is proof that we are sanctuary. To borrow a phrase from the One D.C. Black Workers Chorus, “We shall not be moved.” The Constitution says so, and we will live up to its words. Peace. Angie Whitehurst is a vendor/artist for Street Sense.