Journal of the People’s Pastor

“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”

DARFUR DIARY

" Part 1: Another Memorable Week in the Life of An Activist Pastor "

On Sunday, September 17, 2007, after preaching at the 8am and 12noon worship services at the House of the Lord Church, we marched in the Annual African American Day Parade in Harlem, New York. Each year, the brotherhood of our church organize a contingent for the parade. This year, we added another group that marched under the SAVE DARFUR banner as we had done in the West Indian Day Parade on Labor Day 2007. The National Religious Leaders of African Ancestry Concerned About Darfur (NRLAA) sponsored the marchers.

In the evening, we funeralized Senior Minister Josephine Madison. She was a 45-year member of our church. Primarily, she was responsible for raising funds for our weekly radio broadcast. The broadcast is aired Sunday mornings at 10:30am on WWRL 1600AM. Monday, September 18th, we carried the remains of “Sister Joe” to Evergreen Cemetery, where she was laid to rest. She will be sorely missed. She was an integral part of our church. She was consistent, committed and generous. The church occupied the top place in her life. She was Jamaican and exhibited the spirit of the great Marcus Garvey.

On Tuesday, September 19th, I spent the day in a series of meetings regarding the Atlantic Yard Project. As time progresses parts of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), where our organization, the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA), is concerned, near time for implementation.

On Wednesday, September 20th, I conducted our weekly Noon Day Prayer and Meditation Worship. I spoke on, “Putting God First.” I said, “If we put God’s business first, God will put our business first.” I quoted one of Jesus’ statements from the Sermon on the Mount, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things (material things) shall be added unto you.” In the evening, I spoke at the 13th Annual Commemoration of the MAAFA at the St. Paul Community Baptist Church, pastored by the Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood. The theme was “The Year of the Jubilee and the MAAFA; a Time of Reflection, Reconciliation, Renewal and Recreation. The MAAFA (pronounced Mah-ah-fah) is a program that offers varied, creative expressions designed to remind and educate regarding the horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and to motivate and inspire people of African Ancestry to personal heights of achievement and racial solidarity. I was embraced with affection and appreciation that bordered on reverence. Rev. Youngblood gave me over 3 hours to, as he put it, “stretch out” or to speak on various subjects. The over 2000 people in attendance, sat in riveted attention, except for frequent ovations, sometimes standing, and verbal responses as I made my presentation.

I was asked, among other things, to say who I am and what I have been about, answer questions, then take a break. “The people love you here and just want to know more about you; where you were born, where you were raised, and why you do what you do,” said Rev. Youngblood. “So take you time. Feel free and say what’s on your heart.” Then I was told to take a break, for another part of the program, then come back and preach, or lecture, or whatever. I did it all. There was another first I am compelled to mention. As I was speaking, near the end, a person came forward and dropped a $10 bill at my feet. Playfully, I paused, picked it up, looked at it, before I could put it back, people from all aisles of the church enthusiastically moved to the stage and dropped money at my feet. I asked, “Will this continue for as long as I speak? For I can be here all night. Do I need to send home for a suitcase?”

It was the first time in my near 50 years of ministry that I had been given such liberty. I cannot thank enough, Rev. Youngblood and the St. Paul Membership. Not only for an unforgettable evening on the MAAFA program, but for all that they have done, and they have done a lot, on the Darfur crises.
On Thursday, September 21st, I joined hundred of black clad protestors, who had assembled at the Borough President’s Office in Brooklyn, New York, to demand justice for the Jena 6. The rally was organized by Assemblyman Karim Camara. 12noon, Bob Law organized another rally at City Hall, which was well attended. On Monday, September 17th, Councilman Al Vann convened a Press Conference at City Hall. The significant attendance at these rallies reveals the deep pervasive concern that people have about this issue. Thousands gathered in Jena, Louisiana. Michael Bell was to be sentenced on this day. (As we continue to inform and organize around this issue, on this Thursday, September 27th, there will be a rally on the Jena 6 at the House of the Lord Church, at 7 pm. The organizers includes Councilman Charles Barron, Assemblyman Karim Camara and Councilman Al Vann. As well, people who participated in the other rallies, will also be present.)

At 12noon on the 21st, the National Religious Leaders of African Ancestry Concerned About Darfur, Inc. (NRLAA) celebrated its 50th consecutive meeting with a luncheon at the House of the Lord Church. It was also a pre-anniversary reception. The anniversary will take place on October 18th, at the HOLC. It is a remarkable achievement that the organization has been able to sustain a consecutive weekly meeting for such a long period of time. Particularly, when the issue is thousands of miles away. Later in the evening, at the Church, we funeralized Orlando Watkis, the older brother of our Senior Minister, Renaldo Watkis, our churches Northeast District Leader.

On Friday morning, September 22nd at 6am, I flew to Kansas City, Missouri, for a 2-day conference on Africa, sponsored by the National Black United Front (NBUF). I was a founder and the 1st chair of the organization. I resigned in 1985. Miraculously, NBUF has continued for 29 years. It has done so without a paid staff or grants from any foundation or charitable organization. It has sustained its independence, grassroots, nationalist, pan-Africanist, radical and revolutionary spirit that has made it effective across the years. Friday was devoted to the organization’s Central Committee concerns. The agenda included, 1) A look at history, 2) highlighting NBUF’s achievements, 3) organizing the Youth, 4) strengthening local chapters, and, 5) the transition of NBUF’s leadership, etc. Dr. Conrad Worrell, who is the chairman of the organization, succeeded me. On Saturday, the focus was on Africa. In the morning, Dr. Margaret Lee, delivered a brilliant lecture on the “Modern Scramble on Africa.” She focused primarily on the USA and China.

In the afternoon, Minister Akbar Muhammad and I debated the crises in Darfur. Each of us was given an hour to present, after which we were given 15 minutes each to exchange questions, and then an hour to respond to questions from the audience. Minister Akbar Muhammad, who is the international representative for the Nation of Islam, was most informative as he discussed his living and traveling in Africa. Minister Muhammad’s position is really the government’s position. He has traveled extensively and spoken forcefully in defense of the Sudanese government. Several months ago when I returned from Chad, he had led a government-sponsored trip to Sudan. We had a rather fiery debate on KISS FM. It was this fiery exchange that precipitated a conference, called by NBUF’s leadership, to consider continuing the debate at its Annual Conference in July ‘2007. Later it was thought, it would be better to spend a day on Africa, with Darfur being the major focus.

I responded to Minister Akbar on this wise… To be continued…

Upcoming Events
On Thursday, September 27, 2007, @ 7pm there will be a rally at the House of the Lord Church, 415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, in support of the Jena 6 sponsored by Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry, Council Members Charles Barron and Al Vann and Assemblyman Karim Camara.
Hold the date – The National Religious Leaders Concerned About Darfur will sponsor its first Anniversary Celebration on Thursday, October 18, 2007, from 6pm to 8pm at the House of the Lord Church, located at 415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.
Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House of the Lord Church
Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page @ www.holnj.org.
BCAT Program every 2nd and 4th Sunday @ 2p.m.
For further Information on all events, contact The House of the Lord Church @ (718) 596-1991.