Over the course of 10 days in March and April, three historically black churches – Greater Union Baptist Church, St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church – were intentionally set ablaze in St. Landry Parish.
These destructive acts of violence harken back to some of the darkest chapters of the Jim Crow era. They are also a reminder of the rising threat of racial violence and intimidation that black communities face to this day.
Holden Matthews, the white, 21-year-old son of a sheriff’s deputy, has been charged with arson and hate crimes. And the evidence is overwhelming that these were acts of domestic terrorism intended to terrorize and intimidate the black community.
There are nearly two dozen churches in St. Landry Parish, which is majority white. The churches Holden chose to destroy all had predominantly black congregations.
In his public comments, Gov. John Bel Edwards took pains to frame these violent acts as outliers and not representative of the state as a whole. But history tells us that these incidents are all too representative of the lived experience of generations of black Americans across the South.
Read the full column at NOLA.com.