(Religion News) In an interview posted to social media, Black Lives Matter (BLM) Co-Founder Patrisse Cullors, along with BLM Los Angeles Co-Founder Melina Abdullah, discussed the “spiritual” component of the movement, explaining the practices and “rituals” performed to remember and “invoke” the spirits of deceased African Americans.
“We speak their names … [and] you kind of invoke that spirit, and then their spirits actually become present with you,” Abdullah, a professor at California State University, stated during the discussion hosted by Fowler Museum at UCLA.
Cullors outlined that she was raised Jehovah’s Witness, and “ancestral worship became really important” as she got older. She said that she felt a responsibility to honor the deceased politically and spiritually.
“In my tradition, you offer things that your loved one who passed away would want, whether it’s honey or tobacco or things like that,” she said, referring to the creation of an “ancestor altar,” which is sometimes practiced in African cultures. “It’s so important, not just for us to be in direct relationship to our people who’ve passed but also for them to know we’ve remembered them. I believe some of them work through us.”
The site Crescent City Culture advises,“At its core, hoodoo is a practice of ancestral veneration. The honoring and even worshiping of ancestors is practiced around the world. Many African religions have a foundation in the belief that one’s ancestors play an active role in the life of the living even after death. The spirits of the dead are invited in the household so that they may influence the family and provide blessings and protection.”
“Why would we not honor the people who have been stolen from us and are asking for us to fight for them?” Cullors asked. “They want us to remember them because … they know what it takes for them to be remembered.”
She explained that even in using hashtags people are “literally almost resurrecting the spirit so they can work through us to get the work … done.”
Abdullah explained that whenever there is word of a African American person losing their life, likely in relation to law enforcement incidents, they go out and “pray [and] pour libation.” Libation is an act that is defined as “a ritual pouring of a liquid as an offering to a god or spirit, or in memory of those who have ‘passed on.’”
As previously reported, in 2018, Abdullah poured libation and summoned the spirits of a number of deceased African American leaders during an event at Hollywood United Methodist Church. She instructed those gathered to declare “ashe” as she made declarations and poured bottled water into…
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Editor’s note. This article was written by Heather Clark and originally published at Religion News, Title changed by Pulpit & Pen
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