ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The South Georgia Community Builders Organization held a prayer vigil in front of the Dougherty County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon.
They prayed for peace in Ferguson and across the nation, but they said when law enforcement is lawless, in their words, we should expect the people to be lawless.
"This is not about protest, this is about injustice. You may say the same thing, that the Ferguson verdict is not about racism. But if the shoe was on the other foot, what would it be?" asked Minister Gary Richardson.
The activists called for change in South Georgia and across the nation and prayed for divided people to come together as one. Many South Georgians who were active in the civil rights movement are watching the situation in Ferguson closely.
In Albany we have a unique opportunity to talk with people who marched alongside Martin Luther King here in our city. Today two civil rights movement members told me lessons learned more than 50 years ago still ring true.
"The looting and the burning, that's not going to help anything," said Freedom Singer Rutha Harris. She said the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement preached non-violence because the kind of violent protests seen last night in Ferguson never help a cause.
"No because it happened back in the 60s. There was looting and burning. And nothing came out of that. Everything has to be peaceful," Harris said.
Shirley Sherrod told me she is certain the Civil Rights leaders of the 60s would not be in favor of what happened last night in Ferguson.
"Had we, I'm not sure what we would have gained during the 60s movement, if it had been a violent movement. I don't think many of the gains we were able to accomplish would have happened."
Sherrod and Harris said the people in Ferguson should protest, but should look to history for better guidance. "I definitely think the lessons from the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s are important here," Sherrod said.
Both ladies say organizing and voting for just leaders to run the community would be far more effective than burning or looting.
Both these civil rights heroes today said things are better in the United States today than in the 60s, but we still have a way to go before the goals of racial equality and justice are met.