In light of the events of recent days, we, the members of the Black Church would be remiss if we did not speak in reference to the course that this administration has charted for our citizens. Rightfully there has been much outrage in response to the supposedly unintentional omission of the scandal of slavery in Governor McDonnell’s proclamation declaring April, “Confederate History” month. It is amazing that someone who has risen through the ranks of Virginia politics, educated by its schools and acquainted with its institutions could carelessly forget about slavery. We recently celebrated the founding of Jamestown and many took great pains to include the memory of our African forebearers who landed there as slaves. However, less than three years later that sacrifice has been omitted as insignificant.
But the Governor has apologized and we take him at his word that he is sorry for this oversight. What his apology does not explain is the regressive policies that have characterized this administration. This is evident in the actions listed hereinafter: (1) the revocation of the executive order, which guaranteed equal employment protection for all Virginia citizens in state government; (2) the cuts in his budget, which disproportionately affect the most vulnerable of our society; (3) the frivolous legal suits aimed at repealing the President’s advances in healthcare and protection of the ecosystem; (4) his latest actions further encumbering the restoration of rights to persons who have served their sentences; and (5) the appointment of the attorney representing Club Velvet to the head of the ABC board, upon whose property President Obama has been demeaned by a vulgar representation in Joker-face for months—an attorney who may have serious conflict of interest issues.
These actions are totally contradictory to the inclusivity that he stated he wanted to provide both in his inaugural address and his recent apology. Leadership sets a tone and strikes a chord. We believe that the policies advanced in the first three months of this administration reflect a reactionary agenda that seeks to reverse the gains that we have made in Virginia and in America in recent years. It is more consistent with the massive resistance of the 1950’s and not of the Commonwealth of 2010. It is a blight on the national reputation of our state and presents us as exclusionary and archaic.
The church has traditionally and consistently been the vehicle through which our people have expressed themselves. It has been the church that sustained us in slavery, organized us in segregation and mobilized us in every generation. We will not be silent on this issue or any other that affects our people. If our Governor truly wants an inclusive agenda we invite a dialogue with him to ensure that our Commonwealth reflects the diversity and cooperation that we desire to promote in Virginia. We pray that something positive can come from the error of the previous days.
Pastor Earl Bledsoe, Great Hope Baptist Church
Pastor Earl Brown, Fifth Baptist Church
Pastor Patricia GouldâChamp, Faith Community Baptist Church
Pastor Eugene Chandler, Cedar Street Baptist Church
Pastor Roscoe D. Cooper, Jr., Metropolitan African American Baptist Church
Pastor Roscoe D. Cooper, III, Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church
Pastor Victor Davis, Bethlehem Baptist Church
Pastor F. Todd Gray, Fifth Street Baptist Church
Pastor Morris Henderson, Thirtyâfirst Street Baptist Church
Pastor Stephen Hewlett, Riverview Baptist Church
Pastor Ralph Hodges, Second Baptist Church, SR
Pastor A. Lincoln James, Trinity Baptist Church
Pastor Derik Jones, First Baptist Church, SR
Pastor Carla Lightfoot, Angel Visit Baptist Church
Pastor Tyrone Nelson, Sixth Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Pastor Herbert Ponder, Mt. Tabor Baptist Church
Pastor Wilson Shannon, First Baptist Church, Centralia
Pastor Rodney Waller, First African Baptist Church
Pastor Lance Watson, St. Paul’s Baptist Church
Release from a Network of Concerned Black Pastors