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Task force to revitalize the Black community

Freddie Allen | 4/14/2014, 11:31 a.m.
Rev. R.B. Holmes, a civil rights leader and pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Fla., is heading ...
Rev. R.B. Holmes outlines 12-point action plan to take on ‘stand your ground’ laws. Freddie Allen

WASHINGTON (NNPA ) – Rev. R.B. Holmes, a civil rights leader and pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Fla., is heading up a task force of 40 ministers to undertake a 12-point action plan to revitalize the Black community, taking on issues ranging from the repeal of controversial “stand your ground” laws to supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Holmes made the announcement here last week at a news conference at the National Press Club.

“In our 12-point action plan, we will take the leadership to save our boys and girls, to build schools in our own neighborhoods, to repeal and repair ‘stand your ground’ laws across America, to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and the importance of business ownership and the significance of marriage and the family,” Holmes said.

He said the action plan also includes evangelism, renewable energy and preservation, restoring voting rights for ex-offenders, social justice, advocating for veterans, health care support and increasing the minimum wage.

Holmes also announced plans to run for president of the National Baptist Convention USA Inc., “the nation’s oldest and largest African American religious convention with an estimated membership of 7.5 million,” according to the group’s website. The election is Sept. 4.

“In a time when it seems more popular to be a celebrity than a servant, we stand behind Dr. Holmes with great expectations,” said Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant, pastor of the Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore. “Jesus gave the clear indication that if you want to be great all you have to do is serve.”

Bryant said that historically, the Black church has always been on the front line, giving a voice to the voiceless.

“Historically, it has always been the voice of a Black Baptist preacher to correct America and to put us back on track, historically it has always been the voice of a Black Baptist preacher speak truth to power, uncompromising and in the words of Hosea Williams ‘unbought and unbossed.’”

(Unbought and Unbossed is also the title of former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s autobiography, published 40 years ago).

Bryant said that something has to be done to repeal “stand your ground” laws that basically empowers a person to use deadly force if they merely perceive that their life is in danger.

“We hoped that government would do it, but they have not. We hoped that legislators would do it, but they would not. Whenever there has been real change in America it has always been under the leadership of a preacher,” Bryant said. “Under the leadership of a preacher who did not need banquet tickets to the governor’s mansion, who did not need a reserve parking spaces to be seen in front of the camera, because we understand that the real movement is not a sound bite, a real movement is about what we do after the benediction.”

The so-called “stand your ground” laws have been enacted in nearly two dozen states and research has shown that the laws disproportionately affect Blacks.