Rep. McKinney speaks at Augusta black leadership conference

August 15, 2006

The final day of a conference to re-invigorate black churches is wrapping up.

US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney addressed the audience about the black community being nearly comatose when it comes to politics.

Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney calls herself the "black political paramedic".

"We have lost our way, our mission," she said. "We have forgotten who we are and we have forgotten what we need to do in order to keep pushing forward in this country."

Representative McKinney addressed an audience at Good Shepherd Baptist Church about the community's role, and especially the role of black churches.

The conference, sponsored by Rev. Al Sharpton's group the National Action Network, focuses on black churches getting back to their roots.

"We come out of here tonight with an action agenda, with an infrastructure in place for the black church to be active," Rev. Sharpton said.

The idea is for pastors to be more active in addressing their congregations on issues like voting, healthcare, and social justice.

Rev. Sharpton says the black church needs to get back to its original agenda of informing their congregations.

"I think the church has been distracted and, in some cases, misused," he said.

Rev. Sharpton named Rev. Kenneth Martin as the Georgia representative of the Network to make sure Augusta follows through on the promise to get more involved.

"We are having a problem, because we have young men with no inevitable skills, and somebody has to address this," Rev. Martin said. "What is the church going to do?"

"The church is still the strongest base in our community," Rev. Sharpton said. "And it is not only our spiritual base--it is our economic, social, and political base."

Rev. Sharpton is planning more conferences like this, with cities including Saint Louis, Louisville and Detroit.