African-American church leaders preview cross-country tour to promote voting

By: Lynnsey Gardner
By: Lynnsey Gardner

August 10, 2006

It's a new push to get the African American Community out to vote this November.

Lynnsey Gardner was there as the CSRA Coalition of Black Clergy came together in Augusta.

The ministers say it's time for change on Capitol Hill. They say they want new lawmakers in office who will work to make sure black men have promising futures.

"Over the last three weeks over 38 black men have been arrested for various crimes, basically because they lack education and they lack opportunity," said Reverend K. B. Martin of Antioch Baptist Church in Augusta. "We've got to come together."

And coming together is exactly what they're doing. Today several local black ministers came to Antioch Baptist Church to preview a cross-country tour coming to town next week. Leaders of the revival say it's time to motivate the black community into action.

"It is important for us to develop this strategy, because our young people are dropping out of school," Rev. Martin said. "Our young men are going to prison because many of them do not have marketable skills. The question is, what is the church going to do?"

Local Augusta citizens recognize the crime problem in Augusta and came out to support the churches effort. Viola Elim was one of them.

"They feel as though society has neglected them and they have no hope, and a person without hope has nothing to do," Elim said. "They're idle. They need some motivation."

Elim hopes Rev. Martin's effort to bring the tour to Augusta will help the community.

"They need to be motivated to do something other than commit crimes and stealing."

And Rev. Martin wants everyone to get involved.

"The question is, what are you going to do? When you are finished preaching, when you are finished singing, when you are finished shouting--what are you going to do?" he said. "We got to get out on the streets and reach these young men and tell them there is still hope. If you're willing to accept the opportunities, there is hope."

The tour, named the National Dialogue and Revival for Social Justice in the Black Church, will be in Augusta next Monday and Tuesday. The event will be held at Good Shepherd Baptist Church.

Participants include the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Reverend Al Sharpton, and Congressman John Lewis.


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