The NAACP and Religious Leaders Reaffirm Powerful Partnership for Equality

Article excerpt

Throughout the history of the NAACP, religious institutions have provided both the inspiration and the manpower critical to the success of the civil rights struggle. At no time was this more apparent than during the Civil Rights Movement.

Today's civil rights agenda may be different from that of the past, but the supporting role that churches can play in the new struggle for equality remains the same. With this in mind, a group of over 20 religious leaders from various denominations, representing more than 44 million members, met last October at the NAACP National Headquarters in Baltimore to seek fellowship and discuss their role in maintaining civil rights for all.

The National Religious Leadership Summit was called by NAACP President and CEO Kweisi Mfume, who wanted to share not only the organization's political agenda, but its vision for continued growth and strengthened ties with the religious community. "The summit was historical,"says Rev. Julius C. Hope, National Director of the NAACP Religious Affairs Department. "There was an interracial, interdenominational cross-section of leaders who had never come together before."

Representatives of denominations ranging from the African Methodist Episcopal Church to the Southern Baptist Convention, had an opportunity to share their political and social agendas during the summit. According to Hope, it was important that the various denominations establish that they share some common ground. Leaders found that they are in accord on the importance of addressing the plight of the poor in America and strengthening voter education and advocacy.

While they agree that improving the education of America's children is also critical, it is clear that each denomination has different strategies in mind to address the problem. "I think that more discussion is warranted," says Beverly Carroll, who represented the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. …


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