WORDS FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
"We envision and work toward social and economic relations that affirm and realize the equality, dignity, worth and potential of every person.”
To create a “beloved community,” a community with the above vision and purpose, one must be led by a visionary. Beloved Community Center is blessed to have such leadership in the person of Rev. Nelson Johnson. Please find in the space below, some thoughts, incite, opinions, vision and direction from this servant of humankind.
The Road To Transitioning Greensboro To A More Just And Equitable City
2012, what a year! Barack Obama will continue to be President of the United States for the next four years. The last election, bitterly fought out for over a year, revealed the depth of confusion, division and, to some extent backwardness, that still exist in our nation. All of this signals enormous difficulties as well as great opportunities in the months and years ahead.
The Obama ;presidency is transitional. On the one hand, world conditions will not allow the nation to go back to the 1960’s, 1970’s, or 1980’s. On the other hand, the current economic order has exhausted itself. Therefore, for better or for worse, there must be a transition. We will either grind the poor and middle class into deeper and deeper poverty, despair and expanding wars, or we will find creative new ways to live. We believe that with visionary thinking and hard work on both the local and the national levels the transition can be towards a better more equitable future.
We believe the Obama presidency means a greater window of opportunity for “we the people” to work to- wards forging a nation that has never existed. We cannot merely look to the past for a model. While learn- ing from and building on the best of the past, we must envision and create something new together.
Last year (2011) in our end of year brochure, we spoke of Greensboro as being “close to a ‘tipping point,’ a point at which the city (as a whole) can make significant progress forward or spiral decidedly downwards.” As we enter 2013, we will put forth a comprehensive and challenging working paper that, combined with the work of many organizations and people in Greensboro, will, we believe, “tip” our city into becoming a more socially and racially just city with greater equality, equity, democracy, and compassion.
For the last five years we have worked consistently with integrity to strategically locate the BCC to help transition Greensboro into a new era. This includes strengthening our relations with many individuals and organizations across class and racial lines, especially the religious community. We played the major role in mobilizing African American clergy to take a stand opposing NC Amendment One (a state constitutional amendment using sexual preference to punish millions of people). We, together with Faith Action, spon- sored a very successful Black-Brown Week in September.
Through civic engagement, including a broad Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) effort, we greatly expanded our base with students and youth. We have worked with the City and others on neighborhood-based energy efficiency work (stimulus money) in five grass-roots neighborhoods. We have continued our Homeless Hospitality work, feeding approximately 200 people each morning, four days a week, as well as expanding our community garden. Most importantly, we have worked intensely on the double standards and corruption within the Greensboro Police Department (GPD). The latest egregious example of the GPD’s blatant and evil abuse of power was revealed through their role in the conviction of Latino street group leader Jorge Cornell on federal racketeering charges.
Our working paper is a call to action. It is designed to engage the broad population of Greensboro in a process of transitioning our city into an era of greater social and racial justice with greater compassion. The three interrelated and overlapping components of this proposal are: a) greatly reducing racial and social in- justice, with a focus on the GPD; b) forging an economy that holds greater possibilities for productive employment for all who desire to work; c) making major adjustments in our education system, including teaching creative thinking, local history, and values of a truly democratic society including the training necessary for a sustainable economy. While work in all three of the above areas is concurrent, we are convinced that the social and racial injustice, currently headquartered in the GPD, is the necessary initial focus.
Thank you again for your prayers and financial support in 2012. We need your help even more in 2013. We hope you will stretch a little to help us realize the goal of modeling the transition of our city into a more just and equitable city. Please make a generous donation on line or in the attached return address envelope.
Yours for a Beloved Community,
Nelson N. Johnson