It was 1972. And she was 5.
Wilson-Turnbull told the story Friday as she and other religious leaders from Washington gathered to pray and denounce the oppression of African Americans and other people of color across the District and the United States.
They assembled outside the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, where the funeral for abolitionist Frederick Douglass was held in 1895, and where the body of civil rights leader Rosa Parks was honored after her death in 2005.
The leaders — Christian, Jewish, and Muslim — were members of the Washington Interfaith Network, a multifaith, multiracial group that represents more than forty congregations and 25,000 families.
Standing before the red brick church on M Street NW, they expressed outrage over the killing of people such as George Floyd at the hands of police and the violent handling of demonstrations by authorities.
“I weep for my people, black and brown, indigenous and migrant,” said Wilson-Turnbull, the social justice advocacy chairwoman at St. Augustine Catholic church, which was founded by black Catholics in 1858.
“Our ancestors cry out from the heavens, and say, ‘Enough!’’’ she said.
“This is about space,” she said. “This is about being pushed out of our city . . . . We are connected to this land. This is our land — built on the backs of our ancestors from the bondage of slavery.”
“We are taking back our city,” she said. “We are reimagining a new way forward, where the needs of those who are suffering the most are taken care of . . . to stop the death and to restore and to unite country.”
“This is our commitment,” she said. “Stand with us.”
Distant bells chimed as the leaders spoke before the white-spired church on a warm and quiet morning.
“We ave been prophesying that this day would come,” said the Rev. H. Lionel Edmonds, senior pastor at Mount Lebanon Baptist Church. “We are positioned . . . to lead [in] the creation of a new city, one where everyone can share in the abundance and the wealth and the prosperity for all of God’s children.”
The Rev. William H. Lamar IV, the pastor of the Metropolitan AME church, said: “The wind is blowing across the land.”
“The land upon which we have toiled, our city, all eight wards of the District of Columbia, are crying out,” he said. “Because this city’s most infamous citizen unleashed militarized terror upon our city just days ago, scattering citizens away from our land to assert his cowardly control.”
“I come to declare today in front of the church that I serve that my crying days are over,” he said. “Your crying days are over. Our crying days are over. Right here and right now. Without fear, without malice.”
Afterward, Wilson-Turnbull, of St. Augustine’s, said the beating of her father by Pennsylvania State Police nearly five decades ago was a transformative event in her life.
Her father, Carl Wilson Sr., was the first African American metallurgical chemist at Chrysler Corp., she said. He and his children — Angela and her brother, Carl Jr., who was 8 — were driving from Detroit to Charleston, S.C., to visit relatives when they were pulled over by police.
“My dad was a strait-laced, sweetheart, Catholic chemist” who kept pens in his shirt pockets, she said. “Unfortunately, he was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
When her brother woke her up, he said: “They have Daddy.”
They were in the mountains of Pennsylvania, and the police didn’t know there were children in the car, Wilson-Turnbull said.
“I could see them beating him,” she said. “I got the window down, and I literally fell out the window. I was like ‘Daddy!’ I didn’t know. I didn’t understand.”
She said the police were startled when they saw her. They stopped their attack, retreated to their cars and drove off.
“I realize I was formed in that moment to stand up for injustice,” she said. “At that very moment, [I received] courage to do God’s work in a way that I never thought possible.”
“The other thing for me was: It sealed my faith,” she said. She remembers looking up at stars, and praying, “God, please save my father.”
After the police left, she said, her father, bloodied, got back in the car and cleaned himself up. He told the children he was okay, and not to worry, that God would protect them.
Then he apologized.
“He was very sad that his children saw that,” she said.