By Sydney Melson
The Birmingham Times
Bishop Calvin Woods, Shiloh Baptist Church, Birmingham’s Norwood neighborhood, has served as the pastor of the church for 33 years and is a veteran in the fight against injustice, including the many marches he participated in during the Civil Rights Movement. He’s long been a firm believer in Dr. Martin Luther King’s focus on love, nonviolence, and patience.
“It’s a message of striving to negotiate with those who were mistreating Blacks and minorities and society,” Woods said. “It’s the message of God, and that message will save the nation.”
The Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, a mixture of peaceful protesting alongside looting and violence, were similar to some actions Woods saw during the Civil Rights Movement.
“We had people who tried to take the movement in another direction,” he said. “We made it clear that we were not [associated with] anyone who caused violence. People might try to pretend to be part of our movement, and you can’t always keep [track] of those people, but our message of nonviolence is still the same.”
Still the same, according to Woods, are some elements in police departments across the nation.
“Blacks have been up against police brutality all the time. I was beat by the police myself. Police brutality has always been wrong, and we’ve been fighting against that before we had the support we have now,” he said. “You’ve got to continue to cry out against that. People in charge of the police department now have got to hold officers accountable for their misconduct, for mistreating and killing citizens.”
Like many of his fellow pastors, Woods said all people are responsible for ending injustice.
“If you see darkness and injustice going on and you’re not saying anything, you’re hurting the entire nation,” he said. “We’ve got to collaborate with people who want to walk in the path of righteousness.”
Click one of the links below to read what other pastors had to say.