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Asian American churches hold march through Chinatown, calling for unity with Black communities

A crowd of about 1,000 marched Sunday between Chinatown’s Chinese Christian Union Church and Bronzeville’s Progressive Baptist Church, which is historically Black.

A crowd of about 1,000 people march through the Chinatown Gateway while calling for increased unity between Asian American and Black communities.
Ben Pope/Sun-Times

Chinatown’s Chinese Christian Union Church and Bronzeville’s Progressive Baptist Church have existed for more than a century just 1.5 miles apart on Wentworth Avenue.

But the two churches have rarely interacted or helped each other — until Sunday.

With coordination from the Asian American Christian Collaborative, leaders and members of the two churches — as well as many other Asian religious organizations in the area — marched through Chinatown to call for increased unity between the Asian and Black communities.

“For too long, the Asian American Christian church has been silent on tons of matters, especially when it comes to race,” said CCUC deacon Chris Javier, one of the organizers.

“This is the end of silence. This is us pledging to stop that, to start using our voice on behalf of those that are hurting, even if they don’t look like us.”

Javier said the CCUC has long concerned itself solely with Chinatown’s issues but now recognizes its duty to help out when “the Black church is hurting” in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Asian American Christian Collaborative President Raymond Chang speaks to marchers next to Chinese Christian Union Church in Chinatown.
Ben Pope/Sun-Times

So on Sunday, a crowd of about 1,000 gathered at Ping Tom Memorial Park and marched south.

They listened to speeches at notable spots — including the parking lot at Wells and Cullerton streets, where a black man allegedly murdered two Chinese men in February, and the square next to CUCC in Chinatown — before ending outside Progressive Baptist, a historically Black church.

AACC President Raymond Chang, who led the march, said he chose the two historic churches specifically to form “a significant and symbolic partnership.”

“Our deep hope is that ... the healing will drive from the church to the rest of the communities, and that we’ll start to build bridges from the work that we’re doing,” he said. “And this is just the start.”