As more than 5,000 clergy members from throughout the United States stood in front the FBI and Justice Department buildings to advocate for judicial equity, many ministers agreed that the next steps in gaining equality and fairness for people of color, in what has been more than a century-long battle, is voting and grass roots organization.
On Aug. 28, 54 years after Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and talked about America making empty promises and writing bad checks to people of color, his son, Martin Luther King III, with the Rev. Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network; the Rev. Jesse Jackson; the Rev. Michael Eric Dyson; the Rev. Otis Moss; and other ministers convened in Washington D.C. for the 1,000 Ministers for Justice March.
“There has to be a stop gap measure to stop these crazy things going on at the executive level,” King told the AFRO. “The only way you stop that is through Congress and the Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House.
“If people come out and vote like they have never have before things will change. Now we really don’t have a choice to some degree.”
King noted that there must be more of an effort to reach out to Whites who are part of Trump’s core support groups. “There are a whole lot of poor White folks engaged in this hostility. If people have opportunities and jobs they are likely to engage less in foolishness,” King said.
“We were at a Unitarian Church in Charlottesville [Aug. 27] and we are going across Virginia to register voters,” Jackson told the AFRO. “New Jersey and Virginia have elections this year. We can win those states if we turn this pain into power.” He has been working to register voters in Virginia since Charlottesville.
Rev. Sharpton said: “We had several thousand ministers, imams and rabbis here. The key thing now is to organize those who have signed in to organize these churches on voting rights and mobilizing those voters in their areas and to deal with those state legislatures. We have to organize from the bottom up like the Tea Party did.”
While Sharpton and the civil rights veterans were speaking, Bishop Harry Jackson and a diverse coalition of ministers held a discussion at the National Press Club to announce their agenda to push Trump to be more engaged with the Black community. “The fruit of the churches’ apathy and lack of a consistent unified action to heal the racial divide has brought us to where we are today,” Bishop Jackson told the AFRO. He is a member of President Trump’s Faith Advisory Board and believes that Trump would like to do more in terms of fostering dialogue.
The discussion also included Asian and Hispanic clergy who said that people forget that they were also affected by Jim Crow laws. “We are calling for the churches to repent of sin, of racism. The church has got to deal with the heart of sin. The White church has to repent of sin and the Black church has to forgive,” Bishop Jackson said. “Because we are so divided racially it is going to push this crisis of trust in America. It is going to push the need for racial reconciliation to a priority.”