There’s an old spiritual that asks the question “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” In last week’s column, I wrote about my experience of the march through downtown Atchison on June 11 commemorating the 1870 lynching of a black man named George Johnson. In that column, I compared Johnson’s suffering and death to that of Jesus, who was also falsely accused, tortured and executed.

As I finished that column, the hymn began to run through my thoughts. In fact, I already had begun on the night of the procession to think about the people around Jesus at the time of his death, the people of Atchison in 1870 who had stood on the very same spot where I was standing and people today.

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