In what Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin condemned as an example of the spirit of "racism and division" hanging over this city "that has to be brought down," the sign in front of Birmingham's New Era Baptist Church recently declared that "black folks need to stay out of white churches."
The sign was put up at the church of Pastor Michael R. Jordan, who WSFA describes as "no stranger to contoversy." After a Florida jury acquitted "white Hispanic" George Zimmerman in 2013 for killing Trayvon Martin in what the evidence indicates was self-defense, Jordan's sign read, "George Zimmerman Jury Supported White Racism."
The church's latest racially-charged sign read "Black Folks Need to Stay Out of White Churches" on one side of the sign and "White Folks Refused to Be Our Neighbors" on the other. WSFA was unable to reach Jordan for comment.
On Tuesday, Mayor Woodfin posted a photo of the sign on Facebook along with a full-throated condemnation of it in which he quoted Martin Luther King Jr.
"There is a spirit that is over this city that has to be brought down," wrote Woodfin. "A spirit of racism and division. We have to change the conversation to what we need it to evolve into. 'Darkness can not drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that.'"
WSFA interviewed some locals to get their reaction to the racially divisive sign. One 16-year-old boy told the channel, "I really don't think it should be up there," adding, "I wouldn't have a problem going to a predominately white church because everyone's not racist and you've got to give somebody a chance."
Another local said that while he disagreed with the sign, he hoped that something good could come of it. "It can bring a lot of people closer together because everyone is going to come together and start expressing their feelings — and everybody can get on the same level and everybody can be happy," he said.