Black Millennials 4 Flint is Redefining the Relationship between Black Activism and Faith-based Organizations

Jul 21, 2019 | Young, Gifted & Green Blog Series | 0 comments

LaTricea D. Adams, MAT, EdS

As a black woman born and raised in Memphis, TN known for good barbecue, good music and LOTS of churches, I definitely have strong roots in the black church. It was at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church in the heart of South Memphis under the leadership of the late, great Dr. Alfred D. Hill, Sr. where I fell in love with service…or as the church folk say, the ministries.  Pilgrim Rest, like many black churches was woke before woke. It was also at Pilgrim Rest where I learned about the transatlantic slave trade and watched Roots for the first time in “Children’s Church”…now that’s what gave birth to my unapologetically black activism (along with my blickity black parents). Now, this piece is not meant to paint the black church as the model of perfection…we all fall short from the glory of God. So please don’t stop reading! Many black millennials like me are at a crossroads with our sentiments about church. While we may have fond memories of church, we still have a lot of “church hurt”. It was the “saints” that first introduced me to homophobia/transphobia, fat shaming and definitely an abundance of patriarchy. However, my ministry through Black Millennials 4 Flint has really helped me to connect more with those fond memories. While I definitely don’t go to church every Sunday, those same values around service leadership and activism still live inside my heart and soul.

Many black millennials like me are at a crossroads with our sentiments about church.

Black Millennial Faith-based Leaders on The Rise

Photo Credit: BNIX Photography

In this walk of servant leadership, I have met some remarkable young, faith leaders. Let’s go to First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Flint, MI. We were first introduced to First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church by another member of our black tribe Tavares Taylor, Founder & Executive Director of Tavares Taylor Charities. You may have heard of First Trinity for their recent partnership with Jaden Smith and his company 501CTHREE, but Pastor Ezra and First Lady Catrina Tillman have been serving AND advocating for the Flint family at the very beginning of the crisis–long before folks outside of the Flint community learned about this act of environmental racism. We partnered with First Trinity and the Tillmans in 2017 for our annual water distribution and it was nothing less than love at first sight. Our spiritual connection, likemindedness and alignment in our ministries was simply divine. Because we are very adamant about not colonizing opportunities to serve in Flint (as none of the Black Millennials 4 Flint’s Board of Directors are Flint natives), we sought the advice of the Tillman’s.  After a church service we attended in the spring of 2017, we asked Pastor Tillman, “What are the biggest priorities we can support you with?” Pastor Tillman responded with hope in his eyes that he needed:

  1. Support with making the church a long-term water station. 
  2. Get more younger people in Flint engaged in serving. 
BroccoliCon 2018 (from Left to Right: Laz Alonso, LaTricea D. Adams, Amanda Seales, Grace Mahary & Kerene Tayloe, JD.

Can you believe we delivered on this promise!  In April 2018, I had an opportunity to be a featured speaker for BroccoliCon along with environmental justice maven Kerene Tayloe, JD, actress/comedienne Amanda Seales, Actor Laz Alonso and model/environmentalist Grace Mahary.  During the panel, an onlooker with major connections was impressed with the work with Black Millennials 4 Flint and connected us with Drew Fitzgerald, co-founder of 501CTHREE with you guessed it…THE Jaden Smith. IT’S LIT! The power of God, coalition building and divine purpose forged this phenomenal partnership.  After many months of planning, The Water Box made its debut in March 2019 and took the country by storm. People from all over the country weren’t just excited about Jaden’s celebrity status, but they fell in love with a faith-based organization dedicated to spirituality mixed with activism.  

The Future of the Black Church…The Millennial Way 

From Left to Right: Michelle Mabson, Sean Robinson, Congressman John Lewis, LaTricea D. Adams & Krystina White

Black Millennials have been pretty vocal about their desires to transition from some of the very conservative and downright oppressive aspects of the Black Church.  While we hold the ancestors in high regard, it is imperative that it is acknowledged that heroes like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, John Lewis and Angela Davis were all in their prime–in their 20’s and 30’s.  In January 2017, I had an opportunity to meet Congressman John Lewis [insert scream]. He shared with me that his parents and many elders during the Civil Rights Movement were NOT happy about young people’s activism.  Congressman Lewis lived during a time very similar to that of Millennials…neither generation was as blessed as the Baby Boomers who were the direct recipients of all the work of the Silent Generation–who represent folks such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Angela Davis.  Churches like First Trinity represents the future of the Black Church–nearly deja vu of how the fight for black liberation was an integral part of the Civil Rights Movement. Church-goer, believer or non-believer, there is no debate about the power of churches and faith-based organizations particularly in the black community.  If you really are “woke” and about this life, you would be able to navigate whatever your choice of faith may be and build coalitions with organizations with the same goals. As for Black Millennials 4 Flint, we are vested in like-minded organizations who desire to create a #LeadFreeUSA…#PERIODT. #GodsPlan

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