ABOVE PHOTO: At the podium speaking, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson with Rev. Dr. Alyn E. Waller and First Lady Waller and other Keynote speakers looking on. (Photo by Bill Z. Foster)
By Amy V. Simmons
A special community worship service, entitled Our Values, Our Voices, welcomed 2016 Democratic National Convention delegates and Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members at the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church on Sunday, July 24th. The event was hosted by Enon Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Alyn Waller and his congregation, and was organized by the PA Democratic Party Black Caucus and The DNC Black Caucus.
The service opened with the Sam Cooke classic, “A Change Gonna Come” – a 1960s Civil Rights movement anthem, apropos in this year’s tumultuous political climate, where many of the rights earned are being challenged. Around 500 people — including CBC member Rep. Shelia Jackson-Lee (D- Texas) — were in attendance for the service, which featured prayer and inspiring messages. Music selections were offered by the Enon Mass Choir, as well as Brother Charles Butler and his ensemble, Trinity.
DNC Black Caucus Chair Virgie Wallace introduced several official guests including DeJuana Thompson, National African American Outreach Director and Deputy Director for Community Engagement for the DNC; Nadia Garrett, African-American Vote Director for the Clinton campaign, and Rev. Dr. Zina Pierre, National Faith Outreach Director for the Clinton campaign.
Dr. Pierre is one of over 30 African American women on the Clinton campaign staff. She spoke passionately of the importance of voting and challenged those in attendance to encourage at least 10 people to register and participate in November’s election. She urged the congregation to utilize all tools available to them—including their social media networks— to help turn out the vote in what may be the most consequential election of the 21st century.
Dr. Clark, Pastor of Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina— scene of last year’s slaughter of 9 parishioners— mentioned recent police shooting victims Alton Sterling and Philandro Castille in a prayer for leaders. It called for peace, healing, justice and an end to violence.
Keynote speakers Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale, Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant and Dr. Freddie Haynes all electrified the program with messages that placed a strong emphasis on what is most at stake in this year’s election. Some of the topics covered were mass incarceration, education, voter suppression, and all in attendance were admonished to become more invested in the political process. The challenges to civil rights, the African American community and the country as a whole presented by Republican Party nominee, Donald J. Trump and responses to those challenges were also a main focal point.
The song, ‘We Shall Overcome’, closed out the uplifting program, as delegates, parishioners and officials grasped hands, swaying to and fro as they sang, a tradition that began at the height of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
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