A PHOTO ESSAY: Unity Walk pledges work against hate, violence in community (follow-up: this Wednesday's Chronicle).
By Vic MacDonald
Standing against hate, about 30 people gathered Saturday in Uptown Clinton for prayers and a walk, and more came together at Hebron Baptist Church. The Unity Walk program elicited a pledge from the chief of police.
“Any time you stand against hate, I and the rest of the Police Department will be with you,” said Chief Sonny Ledda, adding that “it lightens my heart to see young people here.”
Event Organizer Rev Anita Williams said of the effort, “This is not in vain, we are determined to full this parking lot. We need to encourage one another. We can do it. I know we can do it.”
Williams said that after the election, she needed to “take a look at the woman in the mirror” and back away from hateful rhetoric. “We need to respect one another. There is so much hate and crime - we need to get in front of it.”
Clinton Mayor Bob McLean said he wonders, “What kind of person would go into a church in Charleston, South Carolina and sit down and pray with them, and then murder them. What kind of person would go into parlors in Atlanta, Georgia looking for people to kill. What kind of person would ride into a group of people to kill them.” The walk came a day after a U.S. Capitol police officer was stabbed to death in a second attack at the heart of government in the past three months.
“I just can’t envision that myself,” McLean said. “It’s not only a person who’s filled with hate, it’s also a person who’s suffering with mental illness. There are lots of children who grow up with mental health issues, and they grow up to be adults who commit these atrocious crimes, they do. When you have hate and mental illness come together, you have a serious problem, folks.”
McLean echoed a statement that Rev. Williams made about social media. “Facebook has become a cesspool of hate. People put things on there they would never say to your face.”
Before walking to Hebron Baptist, Minister Kenneth Murray led the group in Unity Prayers, calling on people, on the day before Easter, to call God by His name and claim victory over evil.
At Hebron Baptist Church minister, youth counselor and now published author Treca DeShields and Minister Krystal Joy-Calwile were the featured speakers. The City of Clinton was represented by council members Shirley Jenkins and Robbie Neal. At both events, the crowd masked-up and distanced to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. On a bright sunny spring early afternoon, the church played host to a hot dog lunch and an Easter egg hunt for the children.
A Bible verse imparted by the speakers was Joshua 7:10: The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face?”