I want you to promise me that you will read this entire blog before you draw conclusions. Two Sundays ago, I went to a march in Philadelphia. It started at Eastern State Penitentiary, which is no longer a jail or a penitentiary, and ended at police headquarters. The reason I took part in the march was not really to say anything about the present-day situation, but about my childhood. Let me explain. I went to high school in Detroit in the years 1967-1969. If you know anything about the great city of Detroit, there were race riots in 1967. Then Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. It was a very turbulent, racially divided city with a lot of anger. This was right in the middle of the civil rights movement. I agreed with the movement. I wanted to participate. I wanted to walk down the street with others to say, “We are all equal. We are born equal. Every man is equal.” But you know what? I didn't do it. I worried about what my friends would think or what my parents would think, so I didn't walk.
On this recent Sunday I sensed the Lord saying, “Ridge, you need to go on a walk of repentance because you're supposed to stand up for those who are abused. You’re supposed to stand up for those who do not have rights, even if you don't agree with all the things that are said.” So off I went down to Philadelphia and started to march with about 1,000 other people. I was glad that I had a mask on and sunglasses because I couldn’t stop crying. It was like each step was a step of repentance. Each step was a step of forgiveness for not doing what I knew was right in the 60s. It was a walk of obedience for me. And I want to tell you, there were things that were chanted, there were things that were said, and things that were implied during that march that I didn't agree with; but I do agree that there needs to be a place where people can express systemic issues and begin to open up a conversation and a dialogue.
When I got back to my car, I felt free. I felt like the Lord had given me clear understanding that this was a walk of repentance, of saying “I'm sorry,” of reliving the 60s in order for me to move away from them and no longer be frozen, no longer be ashamed that I didn't walk. This time I did. And for me, it was to repent of nonaction in the 60s. It felt great. So, I bless these movements. I ask the Lord to put protection around everybody; that we can lay aside our differences just for a minute and agree that every person—no matter what color, born or unborn—every heartbeat has value. I am very grateful for that Sunday.