Methodist Minister Battled Poverty, Discrimination
Hartford Courant Editorial
August 08, 2013
The poor, the unemployed, the hungry and the downtrodden in Hartford lost one of the best friends they ever had last week when the Rev. Roger W. Floyd died of cancer at 82.
As executive director of the Capitol Region Conference of Churches from 1982 to 2000, the Rev. Floyd defined the word "activist." He seemed to be everywhere — on television and radio, leading demonstrations, working the corridors of the Capitol and city hall, walking the streets — always battling discrimination, racism and poverty. Much of what he fought for still resonates today.
To battle poverty in the city, he urged, with some success, that companies doing projects with public funds in Hartford hire Hartford residents. He also pushed to have any company receiving state funds pay decent wages and offer good benefits to full- and part-time workers (noting that CEOs were paying themselves handsomely). In doing so, he anticipated today's effort by fast-food and big-box store workers to earn decent wages.
When the city lost the Hartford Hotel rooming house in the 1980s, he urged that more single-room occupancy housing be built because there were people who needed it.
He was part of a group of clergy who filed a brief in support of the plaintiffs in the Sheff v. O'Neill school desegregation case, which also continues its work. As a member of the Connecticut Interfaith Alliance, he worked to put addressing poverty on the national agenda.
Roger Floyd counseled gang members and helped welfare mothers get jobs. He was an environmentalist. He spoke truth to power. Like St. Paul, he fought the good fight and kept the faith.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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