NAACP, Pastors Call for Activism One Florida Plan Galvanizing Blacks
Cravey, Beth Reese, The Florida Times Union
With help from the NAACP and the People for the American Way Foundation, Jacksonville area black pastors plan to mobilize their congregations against what they view as state and national efforts to "turn back the clock" of progress for African-Americans.
Their first stand will be a rally Thursday to prepare for next week's March on Tallahassee, which is a protest against Gov. Jeb Bush's One Florida Initiative to overhaul the state's affirmative action programs.
"We want the black community to know that we are concerned," said James B. Sampson, pastor of First New Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Jacksonville and president of the city's Black Ministers Conference.
At a news conference at his church yesterday, Sampson urged black residents to protest Bush's initiative and take part in the election process.
"Help us support our cause," he said.
Sampson was joined by a dozen or so other Jacksonville pastors, Isaiah Rumlin, president of the Jacksonville branch of the NAACP, NAACP directors and American Way Foundation representatives.
"We are not going to sit idly by and let them turn back the clock for our children," said Tim McDonald, a Georgia pastor, president of the African-American Ministers Leadership Council and an American Way Foundation board member.
"As black churches go, so go black people. You have awakened a sleeping giant called the black church," he said at a news conference yesterday. "Jeb Bush, you asked for a fight, you've got a fight."
Bush's One Florida plan is but the first target of the black pastors' partnership. They also will push to increase voter registration and voter turnout in the black community for state and national elections.
"Do you think we would be having the problems we are having in Florida right now if black folks in Florida had turned out to vote?" McDonald said.
McDonald and representatives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People held a training session at Sampson's church yesterday for black pastors. …