Calling for justice, hundreds march in Philly to start off national Baptist conference

Philadelphia was sweltering in high humidity and temperatures in the 90s, but that didn’t stop hundreds of people representing the Progressive National Baptist Convention from marching a half mile along Market Street Monday.

Bearing a banner that called for righteousness, justice, and peace, they walked from the Marriott Downtown hotel to the Liberty Bell where they heard from speakers, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Many conservative Christians — especially white evangelicals — have supported President Trump because of his vow to strengthen protections for religious freedom and to appoint judges who oppose abortion. The Progressive National Baptist Convention is among the members of the religious left who oppose Trump because of his treatment of and policies towards women, the poor, and minorities.

In fact, that is why the group decided to organize a march during its 2018 conference, said Dr. James C. Perkins, convention president.

The convention — with a history as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s spiritual home — has about 2,500 member churches emphasizing civil rights and social justice.

The main goal of Monday’s march, Perkins said, was to encourage people to register to vote. The group’s registration strategy is simple, but straight to the point: “Every church, every Sunday.”

Every Sunday, churches should be reaching out to their communities, encouraging people to register to vote in the midterm election, said Raphael Warnock, leader of the convention’s social justice commission.

“We are marching today to the Liberty Bell, because the Liberty Bell has always had a crack in it. That original sin in the United States of America was chattel slavery. Under the Trump administration, that crack is expanding to a chasm between the haves and the have-nots,” he said.

The march, Warnock said, was on behalf of all communities facing oppression.

Delegates from around the nation joined the march to start off the convention’s 57th annual weeklong conference.

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