Local News

Black Family Rally Celebrates Faith, Family and Community

Posted October 9, 1998

— Speakers focused on faith, family and community. People came from all over to strengthen those ties at a Black Family Rally Saturday in Raleigh. Several national leaders also attended the event including the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

At a time when black leaders are fighting apathy in their own community, they hoped Reverend Jackson's appearance would help galvanize the local African American community and attract 40,000 people. However, only a fraction of the crowd they had expected attended the Black Family Rally.

"I'm still kind of puzzled by it myself," Durham Rep. Mickey Michaux said. "I just really expected it to be packed here today."

Speakers hoped the rally would be a call to action for thousands of African-Americans. Some organizers are also calling for an apology from state senator Hugh Webster, who recently handed out bumper stickers that read, "If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em."

"I think he owes an apology to all those poor people out there who are in a situation they don't necessarily want to be in," Durham Rep. Howard Hunter said.

Jackson called the slogan an insult to the working poor, and an example of the misconceptions the black community is up against. "It was an unchristian suggestion," he said. "It would embarrass Jesus - to look upon the poor with such contempt is a mean spirit."

Organizers will now shift their focus toward getting black families involved in the programs that directly help improve their communities. They were disappointed that only two thousand people attended the day-long rally. However, they hope to redirect the communities focus to get involved in their schools, churches and community groups.

"We have not taught our young people what we've had to go through in order for them to be able to enjoy the things we enjoy today," Hunter said.

Organizers believe they have got a good base to build from after Saturday's rally.

Senator Hugh Webster, who passed out the controversial bumper stickers, was out of town and not available to respond to the black legislators' call for an apology.

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