Hartford Clergy Head To D.C. For Rights March Anniversary
By SHANNON O'CONNOR
August 22, 2013
HARTFORD — A large bus was parked in front of Union Baptist Church on Main Street Wednesday morning. Inside the church, about 75 people had gathered to discuss gun violence, job creation, opportunity for youths and other issues.
When the program ended, three city clergymen climbed aboard the bus and joined the Lifelines to Healing campaign as it travels to Washington, D.C., to observe on Saturday the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
On Aug. 28,1963, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington for a massive rally for civil and economic rights for African Americans. As part of the March on Washington, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech.
The bus that arrived in Hartford Wednesday represented the Northeast leg of a campaign led by the faith-based organization PICO National Network. The trip started in Roxbury, Mass., Tuesday. After a morning of discussion and prayer, the Revs. Samuel Saylor Sr., Henry Brown and Daryel McCrorey boarded the bus for Washington.
"We understand that the men and women of faith in this community have been working tirelessly to make Hartford a safer city, to create programs that ensure their young people won't be locked up and incarcerated," said the Rev. Alvin Herring, director of training at the PICO Nation Network. "We came to salute them, to lend our voices in support of them, to pray with them and to bear witness that their work is bearing fruit."
After Hartford, the bus was to make another stop at the Newtown Congregational Church to again gather for prayer.
"We are connected, Newtown and Hartford," said the Rev. Matt Crebbin of the Newtown Congregational Church, who had traveled to Hartford Wednesday. Referring to last year's fatal shooting of 20 students and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he said: "Out of the tragedy of Dec. 14 we realized that the impact we experienced of gun violence and tragedy, while seemingly unique, is not unique. In our cities and other communities, people are experiencing loss and tragedy and the effects of gun violence."
Saylor, of the Blackwell Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church of Hartford, has his own history with gun violence. His 20-year-old son was shot and killed in Hartford last October. Saylor became involved with Lifelines in April when the organization reached out to him. He reworked his schedule so he could join the five-day bus tour to Washington.
"I made a commitment to try to string along a voice about nonviolence throughout the country, and am trying to lend my voice to that," he said. "This is an opportunity to go and see what other cities are doing and talking about."
After Newtown, the bus will head to Harlem; Philadelphia; Camden, N.J.; and Baltimore to participate in forums and prayer before arriving in D.C.
"To me, this is an opportunity to take a break, but to enhance myself with this break, to find a solution as we travel to different cities," Brown said.
Brown, who founded the organization Mothers United Against Violence, has been a community in Hartford for 12 years, often organizing prayer vigils for victims.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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