March on Washington Anniversary Policy Forum

 

 

 

 

Nearly 150 community leaders and clergy from congregations and civic organizations from across Essex, Union, Passaic, and surrounding counties gathered at St. Paul Baptist Church in Montclair Thursday, August 25 to celebrate the March on Washington and to demand action today on its yet unmet demands.

Keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. Willie D. Francois said ending school segregation was the 1st and 3rd demand of the 1963 march, “…and yet here we are”, said Pastor Francois, “these 6 decades later..., in this liberal state - one of the wealthiest in the country - and we’re having to have conversations about how children don’t have to be trapped in pockets of airtight poverty and racial exclusion?” Francois blamed “political inaction and cowardice”. “This is not just about diversity” he said “it’s about opportunity…, this is about power."  

Hosted by St. Paul Senior Pastor Dr. Bernadette Glover and moderated by Dr. Terry Richardson,  of first Baptist Church in South Orange, the post Covid capacity crowd responded with shouts of “Amen!” and "that Ain't Right!” to the powerful message.  

The group did more than preach, agitate, and inspire. The clergy and community coalition (a part of Building One America and the NJ Coalition Against Racial Exclusion NJ-CARE) presented a detailed list of specific legislative actions and called on Governor Murphy and legislators to enact policies aimed at dismantling the “opportunity destroying and stigmatizing scourge of school segregation” without delay.

Senator Joseph P. Cryan and Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey, the co-chairs of the Legislative Joint Committee on The Public Schools committed to work with the group and advance their initiatives in the New Jersey General Assembly this fall. Jasey was also representing the Legislative Black Caucus as its Education Chair.

Dozens of leaders handed in cards vowing to continue the fight and to participate in upcoming hearings and organizing activity. “We will reconvene” declared Pastor Dana Owens of Messiah Baptist Church in East Orange “we will gather momentum – we shall trouble the waters”. In the coming weeks, next steps for organizing and action will be announced as more leaders are clergy are joining the fight. 


 Click here for the program and powerpoint from August 25

August 25 Program