Rev. Daughtry's weekly article that appears in the NY Daily Challenge every Wednesday and Friday.

THIS TIME IT’S FIFTY, FIVE AND A CAR - Part III


And Now the FuneralIt had already begun to rain when I arrived at Gracie Mansion. It was World’s Aids Day Breakfast sponsored by Mayor Bloomberg. I made it on time 8:00 a.m. Few people were as punctual, leaving me time to browse and muse. As I munched on small pieces of fruit on a stick, (all the food stuff were bite size) I read through the book of New York Mayors.

When I reached Mayor Dinkins, my fingers stopped. My mind was suddenly flooded with memories. I wondered when we would have another Black mayor. I reflected on how Dinkins was defeated. I found myself getting angry. Quickly I turned the page. I decided I would mingle with the people and greet the mayor on the way out. “That was a strong statement,” I said to the mayor. “I am trying to say and do the right thing. We’re going to have a full and fair investigation,” he said.

The rain had ceased as I walked to my car. I arrived at the monthly African American and Elected Officials Meeting in time to make my announcement on Darfur. More than twenty years ago we had started the organization to support the mayor candidacy of Dinkins. Dr. Gardner Taylor, former pastor of Concord Baptist Church of Brooklyn, Al Vann, then assemblyman, and I were co-chairpersons. After Dinkins’ election we structured the organization, developed a constitution and bylaws and I was elected the first Chairperson. Rev. Joe Parker, pastor of Wayside Baptist Church, is now the Chairperson.

It was 4:00 p.m. when I met Rev. Sharpton and Councilman Barron in Manhattan. We decided we would arrive at the funeral together. As always when we are together it conjures up memories of many struggles especially against police brutality - Stewart, Zongo, Bumpers, Funches, Parker, Dorismond, Evans, Bailey, Smalls, Louima, Miller, Diallo, Bias, Reese, Stansbury and the beat goes on.

When we arrived at the Community Baptist Church, the rain was pouring down as if Mother Nature was angry that we were funeralizing a twenty-three-year-old young man killed by the police. We joined the Guzman and Benefield families and walked together into the church. (The Bell and Paultre families came later). Across the street, iron horses kept the crowd and media, all covered by umbrellas and plastic bags, at a distance. I marveled that multitudes stood in the rain waiting, chanting, angry but disciplined.

There were wall-to-wall people as we entered the church. We stopped to view the body. People were pausing, passing and sobbing at the casket – and moving on. In some symbolic way, it is the stuff of life. We are staggered and bloodied by “the whips and scorn of time and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes.” But, “We move on.”

We waited in the office of Bishop Lester Williams, the pastor. In the interim, we reminisced on other churches and places we had been in. A photo of Rev. Sharpton - protruding stomach and hanging curls had been taken years before with Bishop Williams, was past around for our viewing. The dramatic change in Rev. Sharpton’s appearance represented a deeper change in his maturity and world view. His image has undergone a transformation.
Bishop Williams came in with instructions. He reported that people were everywhere. The family had arrived; the last was Nicole. We were joined by Rev. A R. Bernard, pastor of Christian Cultural Center.
Outside, around the church, then into the church we walked. Down the aisle ahead of the family Bishop Williams commenced the recitation of Scripture that we have heard so often, “The Lord is my Shepherd . . . ” “We brought nothing into the world and we will carry nothing out . . . ”

We took our place in the pulpit. I surveyed the sanctuary. People were squeezed into every seat, lined around the walls and down the aisles. The program was tight and un-customarily brief. Scripture was read, the 23 Psalm and the St. Johns 15 chapter 1-4 verses. I offered the invocation “Oh Lord . . . bless the bereaved family. Grant that this be the last unjustified death inflicted by the people we pay to protect us.” When I had finished, Congressman Charlie Rangel, City Controller, William Thompson and Rev. Floyd Flake, pastor of Allen Cathedral, were marched to the pulpit. (Oddly enough, they were never recognized). Three speakers followed. Rev. Sharpton was first. He made reference to the biblical story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were put into a fiery furnace because of their disobedience to the King’s command. When the King dispatched an aide to ascertain the state of things in the furnace, it was discovered there was a fourth person in the furnace who looked like the Son of God. Rev. Sharpton said he didn’t know anything about a fourth person that the police were looking for but he did know about the forth person that was in the fiery furnace. This reference provoked deafening applause and verbal responses inside the church and outside where a loud speaker had been set up.

State Senate Malcolm Smith was next. Tearfully, he apologized that he had not done enough to prevent the death of Sean. (Someone said, “Apologize for yourself, we have done all we could do to fight police brutality.”) Congressman Meeks followed, he said, the killing of Sean wasn’t a black or a white problem it was an American problem and he was going to lower the American flag over Washington, D. C. A youthful trio, named Inheritance, provided the music. Bishop Williams did the eulogy. His message of justice and hope were movingly delivered. Weeping and mourning punctuated the ceremony.

Ahead of the coffin and the family, back down the aisle we walked into the driving rain outside. Beneath umbrellas, surrounding the hearse, we waited until the coffin was placed inside the black coach of sorrow. Then we returned inside the church. People still filled the sanctuary. They were still there, including the family, when we departed.
As we walked to the car, people were still crowded behind the iron horses. They let out resounding expressions of appreciation and admiration. The flickering lights of cameras interspersed the crowd. We drove away with the shouts of “No justice, No peace,” ringing through the night.

To be continued
12-5-06 SAVE THE PEOPLE OF DARFUR
Human Rights’ Day Prayer & Rally
December 11, 2006

Where: Assemble for Prayer:
11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
(Isaiah Wall)
East 42nd Street & 1st Avenue NYC
Save Darfur Rally:
Noon – 2:00 p.m.
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza 47th Street & 2nd Avenue, NYC

Attention Clergy: participate in Sabbath on Sudan II. . .in your religious ceremonies on December 8, 9 & 10 we ask that you include reference to Darfur
For further information call l (718) 596-1991or our see website: www.holnj.org

The Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry is featured in The Daily Challenge’s Wednesday and Weekend Edition. Reverend Daughtry, known as the “People’s Pastor,” is the National Presiding Minister of the House of the Lord Churches (HOLC). He also pastors the Brooklyn Church. A prolific writer, his books include “No Monopoly on Suffering, Blacks and Jews in Crown Heights,” “My Beloved Community,” “Effectual Prayer,” and “Tupac, Letters to a Son.” HOLC has a weekly broadcast which airs on WWRL 1600 on Sunday from 10:30am-11:00am. He is also on BCAT the 2nd and 4th Sundays at 2pm. Website: www.holnj.org