Clergy leaders and community members took some time last week to savor the flavor of President Barack Obama’s re-election.
Boxes of chocolate invited guests to celebrate the president’s “sweet” victory last week as the members of Clergy United for Community Empowerment gathered for breakfast at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center in St. Albans. The event was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) ,who was also to be saluted for his re-election, although the congressman had been called to Washington to address the current budget battle.
“Isn’t this a great day to be anywhere? Especially here,” asked the Rev. Henry Simmons, of the St. Albans Congregational Church. “I’m elated about the president’s re-election because I think it gives us, particularly as clergy persons and as elected officials and those who help organize our communities, a clearer sense of what we need, I think, to be about.”
Simmons pointed out that despite the president’s historic re-election, black communities still faced serious problems.
“It’s important for us to remember that ... 26 percent of African Americans and 37 percent of African-American children still live in poverty,” he said. “There are over 900,000 black males in prison that the median income for an African American home has decreased since 2007 greater than any other racial group because a lot of our wealth, so to speak, was tied up in real estate.”
Simmons also noted that in 2009 44 percent of all new HIV cases in the country were among blacks. Clergy United’s focus is on programs for the prevention and intervention of HIV/AIDS, and its funding streams face serious cuts should the country go off the so-called fiscal cliff if Washington cannot agree to a deficit-reduction plan by Jan. 1.
“So while we celebrate, we’ve got a lot of work to do and I think that our president is making it possible for us to do those things,” Simmons said, “and we’re also the only ones who can help, I think, really carry out his vision for this country. So I’m excited.”
The Rev. Edward Davis, Clergy United’s president, said he was impressed by how calculated the Obama campaign was.
Davis said that while the president’s campaign was mostly unseen in New York, he often got calls for donations, and on Election Day his phone rang with the caller asking if he would remind one particular Ohioan who had not voted to head to the polls.
He said that with a bit of divine help the campaign’s strategy was able to combat the racial overtones of Republicans.
“God was on his side,” he said. “God don’t like ugly.”
The group also took a look at local politics. Former city Comptroller Bill Thompson stopped by and discussed his run for mayor next year.
Lois Menyweather said it was important to use the Obama victory as motivation for next year’s citywide elections and beyond.
“Two years from now we’re going to have to vote for Congress again. We do not need to sit home like we did in 2010 when we lost over 60 Congressional seats,” she said. “President Obama cannot do his job because of the Congress and we need to take back the Congress.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2012 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.