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Imaginary Conversation with Dr. Martin Luther King

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Pastor E.A. Deckard

 

by Pastor E.A. Deckard
Special to the NNPA from the Houston Forward Times

Forward Thinkers, this week I’m taking a different approach to my weekly Forward Thinking article. As I’m prepare to launch the initiative Communities Living In Peace (CLIP) and become more involved in uplifting our community, my desire to empower the Forward Thinking community has grown to an all time high.

While standing with three mothers whose children were victims were of violate crimes; Tanira Dean the mother of Terrell Paynes, Gerald Edwards mother of DeMarquise Edwards, and Angela Revis mother of Kiara Jackson whose children were murdered in North Houston.

Forward Thinkers, while marching with the NAACP to protest against police brutality in America, I discovered an amazing message written in 1956 by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King delivered an imaginary letter to America from the Apostle Paul. I was so inspired by the message I decided to model the same pattern of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and today I’m am writing an imaginary letter to the Forward Thinkers from Dr. King in 2015.

I, a disciple of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to you who are Forward Thinkers in Black America, Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Forward Thinkers, for many years I have patiently waited to be able to speak to you. I have heard so much about you and what you are doing. I have heard of the fascinating and astounding advances that you have made in the scientific realm. I have heard of your amazing technological advancements. Forward Thinkers, through your scientific genius you have been able to dwarf distance and place time in chains. You have been able to carve highways through cyber space and communicate across the globe as if you’re sitting in a room face to face.

Forward Thinkers, I have heard of your great medical advances, which have resulted in the curing of many deadly plagues and diseases, and thereby prolonging your lives and giving yourself greater security and physical well-being. All of that is marvelous, you can do so many things in your day that I could not do in the 1968.

As I look at you from heaven, I wonder why with all your advancements you are still so far behind.

Forward Thinkers, I remember the poet “Thoreau” used to talk about “improved means to an unimproved end.” I’m afraid with all your improvements Thoreau is still as accurate in 2015 as he was in 1968. Forward Thinkers you have allowed your generation to run backwards and be tricked into believing they are running fast. Forward Thinkers through your scientific genius you have made the world one big neighborhood, but through your moral and spiritual decay you have failed to make it a brotherhood.

Forward Thinkers, in Black America, since Thursday, April 4, 1968 I’ve been waiting to speak to you and I cannot think of any better time than now to address the following seven issues facing you in 2015.

  • Forward Thinking Economy

One of the more under-appreciated aspects of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy is that by the end of his career, he had fashioned himself into a crusader against poverty. In the weeks leading to his assassination, the civil rights leader had been hard at work organizing a new march on Washington known as the “Poor People’s Campaign.” The goal was to erect a tent city on the National Mall, in Washington D.C. that would “dramatize the reality of joblessness and deprivation by bringing those excluded from the economy to the doorstep of the nation’s leaders.” He was killed before he could see the effort through.

Forward Thinkers, I believe Dr. King would question us today on why are we the leading spenders in America but still the poorest race of people in America. Dr. King would ask us why would we overspend on fashion and entertainment but refuse to invest in the economic development of our own communities.

Forward Thinkers I don’t believe it was coincidence that Dr. King was assassinated when his speeches turned from boycotting buses to raising up Forward Thinking Black business leaders and in 2015 it’s sad that we are still assassinating King’s economic dream.

Forward Thinkers, we can no longer afford to just dream it’s time we wake up and rise up and create Forward Thinking economic empires in Black America and stop financing the empires of our oppressors.

  • Forward Thinking Education

Forward Thinkers, it seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life.

Forward Thinkers, education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. Forward Thinkers even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.

Forward Thinkers, the function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.

Forward Thinkers while we are watching Housewives and making heroes out of our spiritual and political leaders, the education system is failing our children at an all time high.

Forward Thinkers, it is not right that in order to receive a quality education our children must be bussed across town to the schools in “the other people’s neighborhood”. It’s time we declared a war against poor education in our communities.

Forward Thinkers, we must realize the mindset of how it takes an entire village to raise a child which it also implies in the education system. It takes an entire village to educate a child and we must unite together against any force in place whose goal is to under educate our children to create a workplace with underpaid workers.

Forward Thinkers Dr. King wants to remind us a mind is still a terrible thing to waste.

  • Forward Thinking Justice System

Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact. ~Lyndon B. Johnson

Forward Thinkers if Dr. Martin Luther King was here today, I promise you he would be in Washington D.C. demanding for an overhaul of the Judicial System in America. Yes, I know we have a Black Attorney General, Loretta Lynch previously, Attorney General Eric Holder which was also Black. Many are not aware that the Federal Bureau of Prisons is under the leadership of Charles E. Samuels, Jr a Black man, for the first time. In spite of those historical facts the justice system in America is broken.

Forward Thinkers, the American justice system is no more than the new slave plantation where free labor is in high demand. Visit any court room in America on any given day and you will find 80% of the people on trial are Black or Hispanic and 80% of the judges and jury pool are White. If we are going to operate with a spiritual and moral conscious, we must bring an end to Mass Incarceration of black and brown individuals ..And by any means necessary we must bring to an end the pipeline from the school yard to the prison yard. Dr. King was willing to go to jail so others would not unfairly have to go to jail. His question today is, “What are you willing to do”.

Forward Thinkers, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know the system needs over hauling; when George Zimmerman continues to walk around free and George Smith and Jorge Santos is doing hard time for petty crimes.

Forward Thinkers, I’m challenging you before you vote for another politician to find out their stance on Justice Reform and before you sit under another Pastor find out when is the last time he marched or spoke out against the broken justice system.

Forward Thinkers, we will continue our imaginary conversation with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. next week as we discuss: Forward Thinking Religion, Forward Thinking Black on Black Crime, Forward Thinking Social Justice, and Forward Thinking Future.

Bay Area

THE DISTINGUISHED JARENA LEE AWARD PRESENTED TO OAKLAND SENIOR PASTOR

Parks Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, located at 476 34th Street Oakland, California is excited to announce that Rev. Dr. Rosalynn Brookins, senior pastor was awarded the auspicious Jarena Lee Award.

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Historic rendition of Jarena Lee, the first female preacher in the A.M.E. church

  Dr. Rosalyn Brookins. Courtesy of Parks Chapel A.M.E. Church.

Parks Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, located at 476 34th Street Oakland, California is excited to announce that Rev. Dr. Rosalynn Brookins, senior pastor was awarded the auspicious Jarena Lee Award.

Jarena Lee (February 11, 1783 – February 3, 1864) was the first female authorized to preach in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. History shows she was born into a free, Black family. Lee saw the immorality of slavery.  At a time period of segregation and inequity, A.M.E. Church founder Richard Allen gave her the opportunity for her voice to be heard despite the fact that there were no provisions for a female to preach. Rev. Lee showed determination to let her voice be heard and to share the holy word, despite racial and gender issues.  Further, Lee was the first African American woman to have an autobiography published in the United States.

During the 5th Episcopal District A.M.E. Founder’s Day Service, the Award was presented to Brookins by Rev. Carieta Grizzell, president of Women in Ministry and pastor of Murph-Emmanuel Church in Sacramento, Ca.  This esteemed award is the highest commendation that a female minister can receive in the A.M.E. Church.

There are many parallels between  Lee and  Brookins.  They both blazed a path forward through adverse circumstances and applied the lessons they learned to their spirituality.  Their similar experiences as female ministers reinforce their relationship with God.  They maintained a steadfast hope in and a strong love for his divine majesty.  

Brookins is the only Episcopal supervisor of the Women’s Mission Society for the A.M.E. Church to be given a pastoral appointment as senior pastor.

Brookins earned her doctoral degree from Payne Theological Seminary in 2018, making her the first inaugurated female to be conferred with the noted degree.  She was the commencement speaker during the graduation.  Her dissertation was entitled “The Rebirth of the Woman’s Prophetic Voice: Using Liberation Theology to Impact the Local Congregation.” 

In 2018, Brookins presented a pilot program in South Africa and subsequently launched the Global School of the Prophets.  While there are many prophetic schools, this is the only type of school that ministers to both clergy and lay women. Brookins exudes great enthusiasm and passion about teaching and she graciously shares her expertise regarding prophecy.  Her courses provide an overview and structure that encourage individuals to develop, explore and expand their prophetic knowledge and understanding.   

The highly organized and comprehensive curriculum includes coverage of the Introduction and  Origin of the Prophetic; Prophetic Call;  Prophetic Ministry;  Prophetic Terminology; Nine Prophetic Traits, and Prophetic Training and the Church.   Students currently participating in the second cohort of the Global School are from the United States, India, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, Belize and Trinidad. 

Just as Lee showed a drive and commitment to serve,  Brookins has the same qualities.  She is an honorable, steadfast pastor who is obedient to all that God has called her to do.  She is a strong leader, and a visionary who genuinely loves preaching the word of God.  Rev. Brookins’ unconditional love and genuine personality has touched the hearts of many.  Her prophetic ministry, powerful sermons and prayers consistently instill hope and inspiration. 

Lee traveled extensively preaching the word of God.  Rev. Brookins has preached the gospel in multiple pulpits across the country, including Canada, Zambia, India and South Africa. 

Regarding his mother’s receipt of this prestigious award, Sir Wellington Hartford Brookins said “I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of my mother.  She is an example of perseverance and daring determination.  She inspires me to move forward every single day and that’s why this award means so much to her and to me.”

Brookins said she is “humbled that the men and women of God felt I deserved such an award. I am moved that God saw it fitting for me to receive such an honorable award.”

The Jerena Lee Award is an amazing recognition of the contributions of Rev. Brookins to the theological foundations of the church as a whole.

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Bay Area

Phyllis Scott is First Woman Elected President of Pastors of Oakland

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Pastor Phyllis Scott leads Tree of Life Ministries in Oakland

Pastor Phyllis Scott, founder and senior pastor of Tree of Life Empowerment Ministries church, has been elected to become the first woman pastor to hold the position of president of the Pastors of Oakland Association.

Pastor Scott brings 17 years of pastoral leadership experience in the city of Oakland. 

She said, “given the times that we live in now where we are being challenged daily by the COVID19 pandemic, racism, poverty, homelessness, closed schools, closed houses of worship and racially motivated violence, we need a vision for the Pastors of Oakland that unites us in bringing about the Shalom of the city through our interfaith solidarity and community awareness.”  

Scott told the Post that the association is a body of Pastors that reflect the city’s diverse cultures.  “We are an association made up of men, women, Black, Brown and Asian brothers and sisters, all with one thing in common. We know that Jesus Christ is LORD.”

For more information on the Pastors of Oakland, please call 510688-7437 

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Activism

Faith-Based Groups Support Councilmembers Bas, Fife in Call to Support Asian Residents

“I am very appreciative of the community efforts and leadership of Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato-Bas, Councilmember Carrol Fife and the Black Housing Union promoting unity, solidarity and peace in the streets of Oakland,” said Chambers who is pastor of West Side Missionary Baptist Church

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More than 50 cars paraded last week in a caravan of support for Asian residents who have been recently targeted for violence. Left to right, Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas is shown with Michelle Myles Chambers, Rev. Ken Chambers, and District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife who called for community support

Last Saturday, members of the Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC) joined with Oakland City Councilmember Carroll Fife, who organized a broad-based community demonstration of support for the Asian residents that have recently suffered violent attacks since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the country.

Besides the name-calling and other overt and subtle racism that have arisen with the encouragement of former Pres. Donald Trump, at least 20 attacks and robberies have occurred in Oakland’s Chinatown since the New Year, mostly targeting women and elders.

To support Oakland’s Asian businesses and residents, Fife and ICAC organized a caravan demonstration of support of about 50 vehicles. They started in DeFremery Park and wended their way up 14th street and over Webster street to the heart of Chinatown at Ninth street where they were greeted informally by about 25 business owners who showered the demonstrators with tea and snacks.

District 2 representative and City Council President spoke from the back of a pick-up truck where she was briefly joined by Fife.

The caravan then continued, passing Laney College and then up International boulevard to China Hill by San Antonio Park, traveling through a section of Oakland’s Little Saigon.

Although this is the only event of its kind planned at this time, ICAC President Rev. Ken Chambers said he hoped that a more formal meeting between the Asian and Black communities can be arranged in the future.

“I am very appreciative of the community efforts and leadership of Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato-Bas, Councilmember Carroll Fife and the Black Housing Union promoting unity, solidarity and peace in the streets of Oakland,” said Chambers who is pastor of West Side Missionary Baptist Church.

“I am saddened by the tragic events that happened in Oakland Chinatown, yet very happy for the leadership of Councilmember Carroll Fife in organizing last Saturday’s caravan of solitary throughout the Oakland communities,” said Rev. Thomas Harris, pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church and a founding member of ICAC.

Michelle Chambers, director of the FAITHS Program of the San Francisco Foundation, said she would send an announcement of the demonstration of support for Oakland Asian residents to other faith-based institutions in the five Bay Area counties that are members of the FAITHS program to encourage expanded support for the Asian population in the Bay Area.

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