On Monday, October 14, 2013 the New York Daily News published an article entitled, ” Holy war in Harlem: Pastors want Al Sharpton out” The article charged that “Four upstart clergymen have invited more than 100 churches to knock Rev. Al Sharpton off his Harlem political throne.”
I reached out to Rev. Patrick Henry Young, pastor of First Baptist East Elmhurst and member of the executive council for Speak Out Say It Loud,a coalition of African American clergy working to address issues of poverty, unemployment, education and health disparities.
“The Daily News article focused more on divide and conquer method of the media and not the truth. There is not a Holy War in Harlem between Pastors and Rev. Al Sharpton. This is far from the truth, but it is a movement to mobilize our houses of Worships and our communities in Harlem, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Staten Island to address the crippling and challenging issues we are facing in the education of our children, economic development, affordable housing within our communities. We are not fighting; we are working to speak truth to power!”, said Rev. Young
Rev. Johnnie Green, pastor of Mount Neboh, was quoted in the daily news as saying “While (Sharpton) is jet-setting around the country, people are going to our churches saying they don’t have money to eat. ”
Rev. Green responded stating, “The Daily News Article is a total misrepresentation of the objectives of “Speak Out and Say It Loud.” We’re concerned about policies and issues that affect our communities in a negative way. Once again the media has taken something meant to be positive for disenfranchised communities and put a negative spin on it.
We, the conveners of the “Speak Up and Say it Loud” are not interested in diminishing the work of one; we want to enhance the life of all. The meeting on October 24th is not an anti-Sharpton rally it is a pro people rally as it relates to the issues stated above. We want all to know we respect what Rev. Sharpton has done and is doing but that does not negate the fact that so much more needs to be done. All preachers of the Gospel are not after gain; most work very hard and are underpaid as they serve the people and community.
Whatever disagreements or differences we have with anyone, particularly our brothers and sisters in the struggle for justice, we disagree to agree. We will however remain focused on the issues and policies destroying our neighborhoods and communities.”
“The credibility of the pulpit is not measured by the media but by the message and the work. The Pastor’s of “Speak Up and Say it Loud” are concerned only about helping shape policy that protects our constituency. The communities we represent are being misrepresented not by Rev. Sharpton but by plans made by the city to displace or make it impossible for them to continue to live here. It is our concern for and commitment to this cause that we “Speak Up and Say It Loud, said Rev. Dr. Carl L. Washington, Jr.
Rev. Kris Erskine called for unity and welcomed all to join the movement. “The issues that plague our people are greater than any preacher, Pastor, or personality. Harlem Pastors have not united to take down Rev. Al Sharpton, but poverty, hunger, homelessness, domestic violence, inadequate school system, NYCHA, substance abuse, gang warfare, neglecting seniors, crime, gentrification, and etc. The Rally on October 24th is an interconnected collaboration to provide voice for victims. “Don’t believe the Hype”.