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Hill City Happenings
by Joyce Virginia Price

The Hill City

Monday, January 18, 1999 was the National Holiday commemorating the birthday of the inimitable Martin Luther King, Jr. and an annual celebration took place at 3:00 P.M. at Lynchburg College. Among those on hand were Lynchburg College president, Dr.Charles Warren, and Allethia J. Ingram, Associate Vice President for Institutional Change. Others responsible for the presentation include the Student Government Association, Student Activities Board, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Black Student Association, Multicultural, Access & Commuter Student Services, and Dean of Students. Program participants included: Yolanda Jeter, Chaplain Grant Azdell, Kelli Rainey Francessca Spencer, and Jennifer Hargett. Pianist David Wade sang and accompanied a trio from Liberty University: Regina McFarland, Phillip McFarland, and Abraham Carter: "Precious Lord Take My Hand"; "His Eye Is On The Sparrow"; and "I Want Jesus To Walk With Me". The speaker was Rev. Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, the only African American woman and faith community leader appointed by President Clinton to the historic President's Initiative on Race. Dr. Johnson is the founder and senior pastor of the Bronx, ( N.Y.) Christian Fellowship, and is thus the first African American woman to be elected to an American Baptist Convention Church in the convention's 200 year history. To have heard Dr. Cook today was a momentous event in this writer's life because Dr. Cook was a friend to Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker and the Canaan Baptist Church family.Dr. Walker's former Pastoral Associate and protege, Rev.Dr. Carolyn Ann Knight, and Dr. Cook are friends and both women preachers often brought to us great joy from the pulpit with their fiery,spirited,eloquent and even hair-raising sermons.Dr. Knight and Dr. Cook were among those named in 1997 in the EBONY magazine's listing of America's top 15 Women In Ministry. At home in New York today were husband Ronald Cook and 2 sons: Samuel David and Christopher Daniel. My fondest recollections of Dr. Suzan Cook are from her tenure at her first pastorate, begun in 1983 at the historic Mariner's Temple (which once served sailors from around the world) and located in lower Manhattan, in the Chinatown section of New York. With the Canaan Baptist Church Concert Choir, I sang in the church which also was close to my 2 favorite Chinese restaurants, and not far from my most admired Italian restaurant in nearby Little Italy. This section of town is quite near the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges to Brooklyn, and nearby are the South Street Seaport, City Hall, Pace University, the Federal Building, and the Federal and New York state courts.Among other innovations, Dr. Cook initiated at the Mariner's Temple church a Wednesday Noon Prayer Fellowship - Brown Bag Lunch, and from among the millions working in the area, attracted a huge following and media attention,which was absolutely well deserved,from all reports. The commitment and dedication and charisma which characterize this remarkable woman of God were very much in evidence on Martin Luther King Day in her three point message:"3 V's: Victory, Visionary, and Vitality", a message directed to all, but specifically to the Lynchburg College students. "A visionary can live in the moment but can also forsee trends and future players.Dr.Martin Luther King envisioned what integration could bring, just as Mary McCleod Bethune envisioned Bethune-Cookman College and chemist, George Washington Carver envisioned the possibilities of the peanut." "Ask God for vision for tomorrow; have something unique that others before you do not have. Don't let anyone hold you back. Hold on to your standards and values. Don't settle for less." "Show your vitality, come and stay alive and alert as we enter this new millenium. Show your jewels, your gifts and talents. Let the world know that you are alive. People seek out those who exude life, so run for office, make the honor roll, become a star, make a difference." "As for victory, always aim for A+, play to win. Someone already paved the way, and made sacrifices for you. Know that you will get what you want and reach your goals. Aim high, reach for the gold, not for bronze or silver. Don't settle for second best." "My mother was a Harlem school teacher and she brought home kids to study, because they had no other (support system). I wondered why we always had a house full of kids. She taught 3 generations of welfare kids. Now they see me in the street and say, 'that's Mrs. Johnson's daughter.'" " I want everyone here to say:' I am too blessed to be stressed. I am too blessed to deal with your mess.'" "When you stand out, some will not like you .But I am going to be who I am anyway." "Some will not like a bright, active, competent leader, but stay centered anyhow. Stay strong anyhow. Why? Because you are the torch bearers. You are special. There is just one you. Never look back on what you didn't do. Keep focused on what you can still do. Be all you can be. Visionary! Vital! Victorious!" Afterwards, holding hands and singing "We Shall Overcome", the congregation processed, four-by four, to the Lynchburg College Bell Tower for a ceremony whose participants included Richard Perry, Shay Murray, and with spontaneous remarks by McKinley Marshall and Howard Butler, (a former L.C.student). All spoke in praise of Dr. King,Dr. Suzan Cook, Lynchburg College, and of the unity displayed by the very integrated audience, which typified the kind of accord which was foretold by the prophet, Dr. Martin Luther King,Jr. By Joyce V. Price Previously it was the Fair Minimum Wage Act and the Year 2000 Census which concerned us. This week we focus on... The Traffic Stops Statistics Study Act ("Driving While Black" Bill) THE PROBLEM: This bill passed in the House of Representatives on March 24,1998 but was not acted upon in the U. S. Senate prior to the adjournment of the 105th Congress. This means that it must be reintroduced in the 106th Congress and pass in the House again ,as well as in the Senate.Then it must be signed by the President in order to become law. This legislation would have required the Department of Justice to conduct a study of stops for routine traffic violations by police and other law enforcement officers. They would study the race, ethnicity, approximate age of the individuals being stopped, whether a search was made of the individual, and whether an arrest resulted. Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) has indicated his intention to reintroduce the bill in the House in January 1999.Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) have expressed interest in introducing it in the Senate. What We Need You To Do: Contact your elected representatives, both representatives and Senators, and ask them to be original sponsors of the Traffic Stops Statistics Study Act when it is introduced. This study will provide us with the necessary data regarding the disproportionate number of minorities who are pulled over. Limited studies done in the past suggest that 72% of all routine traffic stops occur with African American drivers, despite the fact that African Americans make up only about 15% of the driving population. Call the Senators, and Congressmen at the Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121, Write letters to : The Honorable Charles Robb (and The Honorable John Warner) U.S. SENATE Washington, D.C. 20510. The legislation passed the House on March 24, 1998, by a voice vote and with strong bipartisan support. It is non-controversial. .

 

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