‘Occupy the Dream’
Rev. John Hunter (FAME) speaking to the media surrounding by fellow pastors and members of their congregations
By Cora Jackson-Fossett
Sentinel Religion Editor
Channeling the vision of Dr. King and countless advocates for equality, the Los Angeles African American faith community launched the ‘Occupy the Dream’ movement to raise awareness of the economic injustice tolerated in the United States.
During a press conference on January 28, senior pastors of three of the largest Black churches in the city voiced extreme displeasure of policies favoring Wall Street and the financially elite in America.
The Reverend Dr. John J. Hunter of First A.M.E. Church of Los Angeles, the Reverend Dr. William S. Epps of historic Second Baptist Church, and the Reverend Xavier L. Thompson of Southern Missionary Baptist Church were joined by other clergy and community organizations in announcing their commitment to support the struggle of the 99%.
“The ‘Occupy the Dream’ Coalition is a nationwide effort inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Its members consist of the faith community and leaders of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement that spread across the nation last year,” said Dr. Hunter.
“We aim to bring attention to the plight of the 99% as well as educate, inform and involve our congregations in the fight for economic justice,” said Dr. Hunter, who leads 19,000 members at FAME. Adding in the memberships of the other ministries and groups brings the total of potential participants in the campaign to the tens of thousands.
In a direct attack on current financial practices and policies by leading institutions, the coalition presented its demands to ease the economic burdens of the overwhelmingly majority of Americans, especially people of color.
The list includes:
– A constitutional amendment to limit the amount of corporate money contributed to elected officials.
– Full funding of the Pell Grant and access to low interest student loans.
– Ending Bush-era tax cuts that assist the rich.
– An immediate end to foreclosures and the development of a plan to put people back into their homes.
– Tax breaks for employers who hire veterans and re-train service men and women who suffer from mental health issues such as PTSD.
– Rebuild the nation’s infrastructure such as bridges, roads, tunnels and highways.
According to Pastor Hunter, the next action by the campaign takes place on Valentine’s Day. “On Tuesday, February 14, we will celebrate ‘Love Your Community Day’ and we urge everyone to open an account in either a community minority-owned bank or a credit union,” he said.
To become involved in the ‘Occupy the Dream Coalition, visit the FAME Church website at www.famechurch.org.