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US is still segregated, says CCRJ

 DISTURBING levels of racism are still present in American society, and the most segregated hour of the week is still 11 a.m. on Sunday, a delegation to the United States, led by the Churches' Commission for Racial Justice (CCRJ), reported this week.

The group, made up of British and Irish church leaders, racial-justice officers and anti-racism activists, met clergy in Alabama who organised services offering repentance and forgiveness for slavery and its legacies. The Revd Jesse Jackson welcomed the group to the Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters in Chicago.

The Moderator of CCRJ, the Revd Myra Blyth, said much could be learned from the American Churches' experience as a result of the civil-rights struggle. "We can see that the Churches there will have to maintain their struggle for racial justice," she said.

The civil-rights movement had transformed the physical signs of segregation, but mental and institutional segregation was still a reality, said the Revd Arlington Trotman, secretary of CCRJ, on Wednesday.

"The degree to which America seems to have settled into a way of living that means segregation will be with them for ages to come was disappointing and enormously challenging."

Britain had in comparison made progress, but there was still a very long way to go, said Mr Trotman. "We need to be very aware that the debate around community cohesion and a culture of respect for all should not be skewed and leave people at a greater disadvantage.

"The Churches have a fundamental responsibility to keep the issue in the conscience of the nation and particularly on the politicians' agenda."

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