FaithHamil R. HarrisReligion

African American Pastors Rally, Lobby for Voting Rights Legislation

Singing “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round,” a coalition of faith leaders and civil rights activists marched Wednesday to the gates of the White House, where they prayed and called Congress to pass voting rights legislation stalled by Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

The faith leaders staged a march because of concerns over S.1, “For the People Act,” in the Senate and H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, that they say is morally imperative to pass at a time Republican-controlled statehouses across the country have passed laws to suppress voting.

“The Black church again has to provide leadership because voter suppression not only affects people of color, it affects Democracy, especially when you look at what they are trying to do in Georgia,” said Bishop Reginald Jackson, prelate over the 6th Episcopal District of Georgia. He was the protest leader at the White House, where people like Darwin A. Curry held up signs that read, “Our Vote is Sacred.”

“I live in the 1960s, and we don’t need to go back,” said Curry, who joined members of the Metropolitan AME in the District as well as pastors from Georgia, including Bishop Jamal Bryant, pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Rev. DeLishar Davis of People For the American Way and Dr. Barbara Skinner of the National African American Clergy Network.

Jamal Bryant, pastor of the Atlanta-area New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, speaks during the "My Vote is Sacred" rally, held in support of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, at the Mayflower Hotel in northwest D.C. on June 15. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)
Jamal Bryant, pastor of the Atlanta-area New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, speaks during the “My Vote is Sacred” rally, held in support of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, at the Mayflower Hotel in northwest D.C. on June 15. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)

On Tuesday night, the clergy gathered in the ballroom of the Mayflower Hotel, where they preached and prayed for change.

“You do know [why] we have the Electoral College?” preached Rev. William H. Lamar IV, pastor of Metropolitan AME in the District. “To bring the southern states into the union, they had to give them an outside piece of the Electoral College because they wanted to keep us in bondage.”

Lamar employed passages from the book of Exodus, comparing the plight of African Americans to today to the midwives of the children of Israel who continued to deliver children despite being oppressed by the Egyptian ruler. The event was unique because most religious services and events have been relegated to Zoom since the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the service, Rev. Leslie Copeland-Tune, CEO of the National Council of Churches, read from Ephesians 6:11 in the New Testament: “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

The D.C. gathering coincided with the election in Nashville, Tenn., by the Southern Baptist Convention of Rev. Ed Litton, senior pastor of Redemption Church in Saraland, Ala., as president. He drew 52 percent of the vote of convention delegates in a runoff election Tuesday after he and three other candidates failed to get more than 40 percent of the vote on the first ballot.

Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, presiding prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Georgia, speaks during the "My Vote is Sacred" rally, held in support of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, at the Mayflower Hotel in northwest D.C. on June 15. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, presiding prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Georgia, speaks during the “My Vote is Sacred” rally, held in support of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, at the Mayflower Hotel in northwest D.C. on June 15. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)

Litton made racial reconciliation a central theme of his campaign to lead the Southern Baptist Convention to conclude its two meetings in Nashville today. He was nominated by Rev. Fred J. Luter, a pastor from Louisiana who in 2012 became the first African American elected as SBC president.

Copeland-Tune said Litton’s election is progress, but added, “more needs to be done.” Bryant said that Republicans are trying every voter suppression tactic because “they are afraid that results of the next election will yield what the new America is supposed to look like.”

Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the Greater Washington Area. Hamil has chronicled the Million Man March, the Clinton White House, the September 11 attack, the sniper attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the campaign of President Barack Obama and many other people and events. Hamil is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of the Washington Post where he writes a range of stories, shoots photos and produces videos for the print and online editions of the Post. In addition, he is often called upon to report on crime, natural disasters and other breaking issues. In 2006 Harris was part of a team of reporters that published the series “Being a Black Man.” He was also the reporter on the video project that accompanied the series that won two Emmy Awards, the Casey Medal and the Peabody Award. Hamil has lectured at Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University, the American University, the University of Maryland and the University of the District of Columbia. He also lectures several times a year to interns during their semester in the District as part of their matriculation at the Consortium of Christian Colleges and Universities.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Washington Informer Newspaper, 3117 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE, Washington, DC, 20032, http://www.washingtoninformer.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Back to top button

My News Matters to me - Washington Informer Donations

Be a Part of The Washington Informer Legacy

A donation of your choice empowers our journalists to continue the work to better inform, educate and empower you through technology and resources that you use.

Click Here Today to Support Black Press and be a part of the Legacy!

Subscribe today for free and be the first to have news and information delivered directly to your inbox.

Select list(s) to subscribe to


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Washington Informer Newspaper, 3117 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE, Washington, DC, 20032, http://www.washingtoninformer.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker