By Andrew Wilkes, UrbanFaith.com
A conversation with Jamye Wooten about Breaking the Silence, a campaign designed to connect black churches to grassroots movements for social change in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
UrbanFaith: Thanks for talking with UrbanFaith. What is the Breaking the Silence campaign?
Jamye Wooten: It’s a partnership with faith leaders and Friends of the Congo to Break the Silence on the deadliest conflict in the world today. In 2012, I traveled to the East Congo with a delegation from the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference.
We were hosted by an ecumenical group that visited the United Nations during the summer. While we were there we stayed with the Kimbanguish Church – the largest African-led Congolese church. In 1921, Simon Kimbangu, the founder of the Kimbanguish Church, prophesied that there would be a black President and African-Americans would begin to return to the Congo. Most of the participants [on the delegation] had no idea about the prophecy. We were greeted by thousands in the streets and it was all over the national news. During our visit the delegation met with the president of the general assembly and Congolese women that have been victims of rape.
When I returned home, I began to organize faith leaders for our PSA campaign. I reached out to Rev. Otis Moss, III at Trinity United Church of Christ, who had already been involved with the ongoing crisis in the Congo. KineticsLive.com has been in partnership with Trinity United Church of Christ since we launched in November 2011. We are asking communites of faith to host a screening of the film, Crisis of the Congo– a 27-minute documentary – andparticipate in Congo Week, October 20th – 26th, 2013. There will also be a letter writing campaign, starting in elementary school and going to high school. There is also a petition to implement the Obama law and to get Secretary of State to withhold funds from Rwanda, which is implicated in supporting the M23 [the rebels] who took over the city of Goma.
UF: Who is involved in the campaign?
Thus far, Rev. Moss [from Trinity United Church of Christ], Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Rev. Frederick Haynes [Friendship West Baptist Church], Dr. Iva Carruthers [Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference], Rev. Dr. Bernice Powell Jackson [World Council of Churches], Rev. Raphael Warnock [Ebenezer Baptist Church], Min. Danielle Ayers [Minister of Social Justice, Friendship West Baptist], Rahiel Tesfamariam [UrbanCusp.com], Dr. Allan Boesak [Anti-apartheid activist] and Rev. Patrick Young, who was also a member of the delegation, have done public service announcements. Rev. Johnathan Weaver from Greater Mount Nebo AME Church, who just returned from the Congo, has been a great supporter of our effort as well. Other members of the delegation including, Minister Tiauna Boyd, Dr. Lewis Tate, Dr. Willie Gable and Shannel Oliver are committed to justice in the Congo.
UF: Can you tell us a little bit more about the public service announcement aspect of Breaking the Silence?