Speaking out at the Oakland City Council meeting November 27, Minister Cherri Murphy used one of the methods of direct action that is her public ministry.
Murphy was the Director of Victim Services in the Charlottesville, Virginia, City Attorney’s Office for 13 years. She moved to Oakland in 2008, and three months after arriving, lost her job and a religion that did not address the effects of the recession and white supremacy.
Committed to justice and equity, since 2012 Murphy has given lectures and sermons throughout the East Bay that explore a vision for a church that emphasizes social justice change through art and liturgy as a means of knowing, experiencing and expanding the providence of divine right action.
By 2014, after the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, she re-devoted her life to social change using a theological lens.
She joined Second Acts, a Christian nonviolent direct-action affinity group working for racial, economic, and environmental justice. Since 2015, she has been a member of the Oakland Justice Coalition co-founded by Carol Fife, which is a partnership of progressive and radical groups and individuals coming together around Oakland legislative policies and elections.
Currently the Founder of Speak Life Ministries and a Doctoral student at the American Baptist Seminary of The West in Berkeley, her focus is on liturgical direct action, specifically how participants combine public worship, art and ritual protests to intimately engage and invoke social change for those who have been historically diminished. She is a member and licensed Spiritual Director at Heart and Soul Center of Light in Oakland.
“As a society, we have created a ruling and coercive god resulting in racism, heteronormativity, mass incarceration, poverty, homelessness, gun violence, climate change and militarized policing. We need a reimagination of Jesus…through protests that challenge economic institutions and political practices,” says Murphy.