Husband and wife pastors, James and Sharon Ward of Skokie, Illinois, were the Black participants present for President Donald Trump’s round table discussion in Kenosha on Tuesday.
The Wards said they are pastors to Julia Jackson, the mother of Jacob Blake, the Black man shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha police officer, sparking protests and riots. Jackson issued her own call for peace and healing last week.
“I think James and I, our prayer is that we’re able to work to really bring about a change,” Sharon Ward said. “I think there’s a lot of great change that’s been mentioned here, about how law enforcement has quickly solved the problem of crime in the street, but I think this is a good opportunity for us to really solve the problem in the nation.”
James Ward spoke directly to the president, calling for a focus on rebuilding a foundation of spirituality and morality.
“Jesus himself said blessed are the peacemakers,” Ward said. “If you give a righteous, good moral man the launch codes to our nuclear arsenal, everyone will be safe because he’s a good man. But if you give a malicious man who is immoral an ink pen, you have to fear for your life,” Ward told the president.
“I just want to say that we’re here to be of service to you and to our country to bring unity. We believe that we can help to listen with empathy and compassion to the real pain that hurts Black Americans.”
“I think you’re an incredible couple, and thank you very much for being here,” Trump said.