Photos by Donna Lamb

- Rally speakers gather behind banner and four symbolic coffins at
Save the People of Darfur rally

- Ceremonial drummers provide pathway for the spirits at Darfur rally

- Rev. Herbert Daughtry, Chief Pastor of House of the Lord Church,
leads rally on Darfur

- Dr. Karen Smith Daughtry speaks on behalf of women against genocide
in Darfur

- Rev. C. Herbert Oliver says that while people protest murder in
Darfur, they shouldn't forget murder of Sean Bell

- Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid speaks at Save Darfur rally, flanked by
Robert Webster, Rev. Jacques DeGraff, and Rev. Herbert Daughtry

- Rally participants point to Ambassador's office and demand Save the
People of Darfur!

Save the People of Darfur!

By Donna Lamb

In honor of International Human Rights Day, on December 11th the Rev. Herbert Daughtry and several other clergy held a Save the People of Darfur Rally in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, across the street from the offices of Andrew Natsios, the US Ambassador to the Sudan, and around the corner from the United Nations.

The rally began quietly but dramatically. A hearse rolled up, four simple pine coffins were removed, and, to the sound of ceremonial drumming, they were carried to the steps where the speaking was to take place. The coffins were followed by a procession of youth from the Ronald Edmonds Middle School in Brooklyn, the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, and the other rally participants.

As Rev. Daughtry explained, since 2003, over 400,000 men, women, and children have died as a direct result of the Sudanese government's brutal campaign, and 2.5 million people have been displaced. “There are kidnappings, rapes, and murders almost daily,” stated Daughtry. “So we have come here to symbolize that through the coffins.” One smaller coffin represented all the young girls who have died, another represented all the young boys, and there were two larger coffins, one standing for the adult males and the other for the adult females who have died.

First to speak was Dr. Karen Smith Daughtry, who declared, “We come here because we hear the anguished cry of the families who know not whether they will be murdered in the next hour. We hear the cries of the children who are orphaned and homeless. We will not stand idly by while children are killed, husbands are slaughtered, and women are raped.”

Dr. Daughtry quoted Bill Cosby who said that nothing is so dangerous as a woman with a made-up mind. “And our minds are made up,” she stated. “We, as women, are appalled that this situation has been allowed to continue unabated. We want the word to go forth that with these atrocities you have touched our hearts. In doing so, you have dislodged a boulder, and you will be crushed.”

Another powerful speaker was the Rev. C. Herbert Oliver, who thanked God that six states have already voted to divest from the Sudan. New York State, however, is still considering it. They are calling upon the governor-elect, Eliot Spitzer, to support divestment from the Sudan.

Oliver also noted that what is happening in Darfur should not be divorced from the problems here at home. “We've had an assassination right here on our streets in the person of Sean Bell,” he commented. “Don’t forget Sean Bell.”
Perhaps the highpoint of the rally was the remarks delivered by Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid, spiritual leader of The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem. He said that participants from the Muslim community were glad to be there standing with their Christian brothers and sisters to dramatize the fact that this is a cause that is being lifted up by people of all different faiths right here in New York City and throughout the world. “Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others are raising their voices on this issue because all life is sacred,” he declared. He told the youth, “We each have to do whatever we can to lift up the sacredness of life. When we come here today, we're standing together in solidarity, and that's how we want you to stand.” And referring to innocent victims cut down by the NYPD, Abdur-Rashid concluded, “Whether the person's name is Amadou Diallo, Anthony Baez, Gidone Busch, Sean Bell, or Ousmane Zongo, all life is sacred. Remember that, stand for that, and we will stand with you.”

Among the other clergy who delivered up prayers or spoke at the rally were Jacques DeGraff, James Bullock, Cheryl Williams, R.K. Smith, Joan Brightharp, Rev. Podres Spencer, and Tomas Rivera, who put across his message in both English and Spanish. Among those joining them were State Senator-elect Bill Perkins; Dr. Ron Daniels, President of the Institute of the Black World, 21st Century; Philip Banks Jr., President of 100 Black Men; and Robert Webster, a student at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice. The hearse was provided by White Memorial Chapel in Brooklyn, and the coffins were built by Omar Wilkes.

As a final act before disbanding, rally participants pointed to the building where Ambassador Natsios’ office is housed, and their fervent call reverberated from the surrounding buildings: “Save the People of Darfur!”