The 2019 Interfaith Youth Choir performs during "Dr. King's Vision: Humanity Tied in a Single Garment of Destiny," an event hosted by the InterFaith Council of Metropolitan Washington and the Council of Churches of Greater Washington, at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in D.C. on April 7. (Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Informer)
The 2019 Interfaith Youth Choir performs during "Dr. King's Vision: Humanity Tied in a Single Garment of Destiny," an event hosted by the InterFaith Council of Metropolitan Washington and the Council of Churches of Greater Washington, at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in D.C. on April 7. (Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Informer)

Chuck Hicks could hardly contain his emotions Sunday afternoon while standing in front of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, as people of many races and religions locked hands and sang “We Shall Overcome.”

The event, “Dr. King’s Vision: Humanity Tied in a Single Garment of Destiny,” brought together several hundred people to the Northwest church for program hosted by the InterFaith Council of Metropolitan Washington and the Council of Churches of Greater Washington.

“In the Black church this what you do — call and response,” said Hicks, 74, a longtime civil rights veteran.

Hicks stood up and clapped as the Artists Group Chorale of Washington sang the Mahalia Jackson-penned spiritual “Troubles of the World.”

At a time when President Trump dominates the national media in a city once known for its humanity and diversity, Hicks and those gathered savored every minute of an event moderated by WJLA-TV (Channel 7) news anchor Sam Ford that promoted racial unity across the spectrum of faith.

“This interfaith service is a testament to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King,” said Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, whose keynote speech quoted everything from King to Bible verses like Galatians 3:26-28: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

That theme of unity was emphasized throughout the event, particularly through songs performed by the 2019 Interfaith Youth Choir that featured singers from eight religions.

Rabbi Gerry Serotta, executive director of the InterFaith Council of Metropolitan Washington, without mentioning Trump by name, said “we do have a moral emergency in this country.”

“Dr. King would say [that is] what made America great in the first place,” Serotta said.

Imam Talib M. Shareef, president of Masjid Muhammad Inc. in D.C., said afterward that the world was truly represented.

“This was an important event because this was the globe,” Shareef said. “In this city, you have people from different parts of the world and now they are in America.”

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...

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