Praying for Veterans of Color

Join us for lunch on Monday, November 13 from 12:15 – 1:15 in the Cathedral Atrium as we rededicate the
“Immigrant Mother” Statue in Cathedral Square Park.
Learn a bit about the history of the statue and immigrants to Milwaukee
and network with local organizations advocating for immigrant rights
and supporting immigrants today.


November 10, 2017


There were and are African Americans who laid their lives on the line to protect democracy and defend freedom. They expected the rewards of full inclusion, acceptance, and citizenship for their sacrifices, but instead came home to continued humiliation, discrimination, incarceration, and death. Black veterans were primary targets of racialized violence often because of their participation in the U.S. military: “It was risky for a black serviceman to wear his uniform, which many whites interpreted as an act of defiance.”

  • During the Civil War, Congress refused to pass legislation equalizing black and white soldiers’ pay until 1864.
  • After WWI, African Americans were subject to the racially discriminatory administration of veterans’ benefits, and…many…black veterans were denied medical care and other assistance (upon returning from the war). Dozens of veterans were lynched.
  • After WWII, Title III of the G.I. Bill made veterans eligible for low-interest home loans with no down payment. Very few black veterans benefitted from Title III because, while the loans were guaranteed by the VA, they required cooperation from local banks. In one state, of the 3229 loans administered by the VA, only 2 were granted to African Americans. “(B)lack people were excluded from the benefits of military service, and the hopes of black veterans and their communities were crushed by an unyielding racism that barred their entry into the middle class.”

Because of their military service, black veterans were seen as a particular threat to Jim Crow and racial subordination. Thousands of black veterans were assaulted, threatened, abused, or lynched following military service. As veteran and later civil rights leader Hosea Williams said, “I had fought in World War II, and I once was captured by the German army, and I want to tell you the Germans never were as inhumane as the state troopers of Alabama.”
African Americans served in the Civil War, World War I, and World War II for the ideals of freedom, justice, and democracy, only to return to racial terror and violence.
Despite the overwhelming injustice and horrific attacks black veterans suffered during the era of racial terror, they remained determined to fight at home for what they had helped to achieve abroad. This commitment directly contributed to the spirit that would launch the American Civil Rights Movement, and the courage that would sustain that movement through years of violent and entrenched opposition.

Prayer for Centering

Dear God, in our efforts to dismantle racism, we understand that we struggle not merely against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities – those institutions and systems that keep racism alive by perpetuating the lie that some members of the family are inferior and others superior.
Create in us a new mind and heart that will enable us to see brothers and sisters in the faces of those divided by racial categories.

Give us the grace and strength to rid ourselves of racial stereotypes that oppress some of us while providing entitlements to others.
Help us to create a Church and nation that embraces the hopes and fears of oppressed People of Color where we live, as well as those around the world.

Heal your family God, and make us one with you, in union with our brother Jesus, and empowered by your Holy Spirit.

Pax Christi Anti-Racism Team

Invitation to Silence


Closing Prayer
The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
Father, forgive.
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
Father, forgive.
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Father, forgive.
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Father, forgive.
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
Father, forgive.
The lust which dishonors the bodies of men, women and children,
Father, forgive.
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Father, forgive.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.

Weekly Reflection Questions

Where are the places in my life that I demand equality for all people? Where are the places where that equality doesn’t reach?

Where do we as a Church and nation need to sacrifice our comfort for the equal treatment of all people?

How can we honor our African American veterans and fight to ensure that they receive the same benefits as white veterans?


Join us in person at the Cathedral Fridays at 12:15 PM for this 30 minute communal contemplative prayer with the intention of reconciling and healing racism in our city.

Feel free to pray privately wherever you are in solidarity with those gathered at the Cathedral if you are not able to join in person.

Brought to you by:
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Three Holy Women, Our Lady of Divine Providence, Old St. Mary’s, Saints Peter and Paul Human Concerns/Social Justice Commissions
Urban Ministry of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

For more information, please contact:
Anne Haines, Respect Life Director for Urban Ministry
Andrew Musgrave, Director of Social Justice at Three Holy Women, Old St. Mary’s, Our Lady of Divine Providence and Saints Peter and Paul Parishes
Shelly Roder, Director of Outreach Ministries at
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

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