This past Sunday I was in that church, the Union Baptist Church. I stood on the perimeter of the room in the basement of the 125 year old church, watching the variety of candidates for Fort Wayne government return some not-so-perfect answers. I also watched the faces of the church's serious people as they waited ever-so-patiently for their turn to talk. There was thoughtful questioning and serious concerns. They were patient. Maybe too patient.
I saw wide-eyed quiet children looking to their parents, church elders, and us as strangers, debate their very existence and their very future. They watched as their leaders stood up and questioned the candidates. Questioned the government in that room who they so strongly felt had to change in order for them to claim a piece of the world for themselves. Or simply exist.
I heard them saying to these politicians and wanna-be-politicians that they were unhappy with government. I heard them saying they were not being represented and they haven't been for way too long. I heard them say "Something has to change." In a quiet, serious way.
How prophetic it turned out to be.
Something changed, alright. Mr. Marshall died.
I have referred to this past Sunday in several conversations this week because it was a disturbing feeling when I left, for some unknown reason. I drove away thinking I had heard this before. Something has to change. Indeed, I realized, I had.
Daily for 10 months, now, I heard this same phrase from restaurant and bar owners. From the man who was put in jail for a fence in his yard. From the family businesses who could no longer pay the tax on their property they had owned for decades. And in sharing my own dealings with trying to get a business started, and being stopped by bureaucracy.
Why does it take death to get people’s attention... This man and his supporters have fought for a very long time to get a wrong turned right. How many of you understand what it means to live and breathe and die for a cause?
My heart broke today for this man, his family, and all the other people who just want to make a little something for themselves in the world.
Mr. Marshall, we owe you. We owe you a stronger fight against the status quo. We owe you a better answer. We owe you a better ear. We owe those children who watched us with wanting eyes. We owe you change.
The greater good laws which drove down Mr. Marshall and many others are only greater good for big business, rich politicians, and self-appointed guards of our lives.
This madness has to stop. It has to stop. Something has to change.