Maxine Walters (L’21): Finding the Church in the Midst of Protest

Maxine Walters holding a protest sign

Maxine Walters (pictured right) is a Juris Doctor Candidate, Class of 2021, and president of the Black Law Students Association at the Georgetown University Law Center. She reflects on racial justice, challenging the status quo, and doing God’s work.

The past month has been a whirlwind. I experienced a lot of emotion- good and bad. Sadness, trauma, fear, and guilt. But also hope and community and strength. The past month has also shown me that maybe I am not as far from the church as I thought.

I always knew that a church is a lot more than the four walls of a building. But this experience has made me see that I am still a part of a group of people who are advancing the causes I believe in. People may not be calling it tithes and offering, but they are donating to bail funds, communities in need, and people less privileged than themselves. People may not be singing gospel songs with their hands raised in the air, but they are chanting in unison as they march down the street holding up signs demanding justice, freedom, and equality. People are enlisting others to help (bringing a friend to church), challenging the status quo, signing petitions, writing emails, and making phone calls.

They are setting up tables on the side of the road and feeding people. They are caring for injured people. The truth is that they are loving people. People who do not look like them. People they do not know. People who are different than them. Racial justice book clubs look a lot like Wednesday night small groups. I do not think these are coincidences. Someone on Twitter said that Jesus was a brown man who was publicly executed by the government. I think a lot of people are tired of the status quo and they are craving change.

They are willing to put their health, comfort, and safety on the line for what they believe in. I have been part of several different churches: non-denominational (think skinny jeans and contemporary music), Baptist, and Pentecostal. From Vacation Bible School to youth camp. When I got to college, I stopped going. And when I came to D.C. for law school, I felt like it was a very secular place and that most people I knew were not very religious beyond the dinnertime and bedtime prayers, including myself.

But I see a lot of similarities between the work being done today and the work I believe God would want people to be doing right now. I feel more community right now, especially on social media, than I have felt in some churches. People say Sunday is the most segregated day of the week, but these protests on Saturdays look pretty diverse. I think all of this is part of something greater than us, even if we do not put a title on it. I think church and social justice work are two sides of the same coin. I hope that this work continues and I hope that we all continue working together.