Firefighters and fire investigators respont to a fire at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church Thursday, April 3, 2019, on Hwy. 182 south of Opelousas, La.

Three historic African-American churches in St. Landry Parish recently burned down over a 10-day period. The news, which I learned about from a friend, got my attention as I was savoring some quiet time. 

Were we going back to the 1960s? It was a sickening thought. While I'm in pain for the devastated congregations, I hope those fires were coincidences and not set intentionally by anyone.

The timing of these fires is extra troubling since it is happening so close to the 51st anniversary (April 4, 1968) of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Is someone trying to make some kind of racist statement? I pray not. As of this writing, all of the fires were still under investigation.

Back to the reason for the quiet time. I was trying my best not to watch the news, especially the stuff about the Mueller report, and all things related. That’s really enough to cause concern. But then you get blindsided.

The president of the United States, whose believers embrace him even more when he lies or rails against something inane, got a twofer this week. They must have been giddy. But the news is troubling for most folks to think about.

For no apparent reason, President Donald Trump decided to lie about where his father was born.

He told God and country that his dad was born in Germany. Well, it’s a fact that Daddy Trump was born in New York, USA. You could look it up.

His supporters are probably saying: “Oh he’s just playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers. He’s smart.” Nope, he’s just lying. And it would be even worse for the country if he can’t remember his father’s birthplace. Even I would feel bad for him then. Well, maybe.

But lying is so natural for him, he may not know he’s doing it. His supporters love it, but of course they would not accept it from anyone whose name is not Trump.

The second of the two-fer was the president attacking wind energy. The president proclaimed that the windmills used to produce energy were also causing cancer. There is no scientific evidence to support that bizarre claim. Why would the leader of the free world stoop so low? You have to wonder how the rest of world is viewing this country.

After consuming those head-scratchers, something else was on my mental plate. There was an explosion of sadness that stretched from the streets of Baton Rouge to Los Angeles in response to the murder of West Coast rap star Nipsey Hussle.

I saw a lot of local people on social media extolling the value of Hussle’s music and what he was doing to improve his community. Everyone applauds that.

But there is a crying need for our local folks to be up in arms to show our displeasure with the almost daily shootings and the killings right down the street. The African-American community should be acutely aware and outraged at what is happening.

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Instead, we fall into the trap: “Oh, he lived over there. They do that. We accept that. That’s just how it goes.” We take their deaths in stride, like it is inevitable.

The need to look inward was crystallized in a statement by a mother in another state whose adult son was killed by a teenager as part of his gang initiation.

“The black community doesn’t like to discuss gun violence in our communities, especially black-on-black crime, because they feel like it is another thing that people in the white communities or the government can use against us. But we can’t deny the facts,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Thanks to my friend, my quiet time of nothingness was disrupted and my mind drifted back to this stuff. Some of this was heavy stuff, some of it mundane. In the end, I appreciated the call. And, I know, unfortunately, she will call with more bad news again.

Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at