Ugly tan plywood appeared on windows around the city of Kenosha in the aftermath of the shooting of Jacob Blake on August 23, as the city braced for protests and potential damage to property. In response, a group called Kenosha Creative Space came up with the idea of encouraging residents of the city to paint the plywood with the themes of Love, Hope, and Unity, and soon, what was an idea became a reflection of a city grappling with violence responding in a way that did not diminish the pain, but insisted on a better future.
Veronica King was one Kenosha resident who loved the result. As King drove around the city, she noticed how many of the images contained scripture passages and she began to photograph them and share them on Facebook as part of her work with Congregations to Serve Humanity (CUSH), an Interfaith organization in Kenosha where she is Vice President. “This is one way to help begin the healing of our community,” says King, describing the messages and images of hope.
Another part of healing came through an Interfaith prayers service held at Second Baptist Church of Kenosha on Sunday afternoon outside of one of the churches that is a member of CUSH. On a sunny, warm afternoon, religious leaders from Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Episcopal Baptist, and other traditions gathered outdoors at a safe social distance to offer prayers of hope and show interfaith solidarity in this difficult time in their community. Rabbi Dena Feingold, who serves as the leader of Beth Hillel Temple in Kenosha, prayed for the city of Kenosha and the family of Jacob Blake, urging the community to address systemic racism and begin the process of rebuilding and healing. Read her whole prayer here.
CUSH is focused on love and healing but also on acknowledging the persistence of racism that afflicts the city. In a statement on their website they also insist that prayers are not enough and the time is now to act: