No one knows for sure who will win the Republican nomination for president. Currently, Dr. Ben Caron and Donald Trump are the leaders but things change quickly in politics. Dr. Carson will certainly finish strong if he does not win.
While Dr. Carson’s campaign is doing an excellent job on funding and advertising he also has what no other candidate has and that is the African American vote. I don’t know that every African American person in America will vote for Carson but I believe that the vast majority will.
African Americans have and do something that the rest of the general voting population does not have and that is the African American church. Since the inception of this nation, the weekly gathering of the African American population on Sunday morning has been a place of solace, inspiration, strength but also incredible information and organization.
I was in Selma, Alabama recently and walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Hundreds of marchers were beaten and bloodied on that bridge on March 7, 1965. They were marching for the right to register to vote in Selma and the state of Alabama. A second March was attempted under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King on March 9 but King led the marchers to turn around. On March 21st with the federal protection of almost 4,000 members of the U.S. Army and National Guard, King and Ralph Abernathy led over 400 people to make the 50-mile walk to Montgomery, Alabama. Their courageous march and national attention made it possible for African Americans to register and finally vote.
Where did this March begin? The gathering began at the Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma. The church is just a few blocks away from the bridge. This is where pastors, church leaders and hundreds of volunteers assembled and made their first march. Dr. Martin Luther King and Ralph Abernathy would come to town and King would speak to a packed house at this church. Later they would march with federal protection ordered from President Johnson from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The church was where they assembled. The church was where they gathered to rally, share information, encourage each other and organize for success.
Still today, African American churches are extremely effective in addressing social issues. The churches are organized and pastors are not timid in telling their congregations what must be done in relationship to the community and the nation.
Often, I have the opportunity to speak in African American churches. Many of my closest friends are from the African American community. My column is only an observation of their strength and in no way am I negative about the effectiveness of African American churches. I commend them. I only wish that America’s white pastors had as much freedom as the African American ministers, but they do not. In most cases, a white protestant pastor will be terminated quickly if he engages in political organizing for a candidate. These churches will lead him to be the scapegoat in wet/dry elections or in running all over town working against a state lottery or something like that. However, churches are normally very divided between Republicans and Democrats or those who just don’t want anything political in the church. A white congregation will also be threatened with termination of their non-profit status if they become political.
I understand that the church is a place of faith, scripture teaching and pointing people to God. African American churches do this very well. However, while they are helping people with their faith, they also know how to organize and bring a strong unified vote to the table. This time it will be for Dr. Ben Carson. Their unified effort propelled Obama and they will thrust Carson to either victory or near victory. And while they are doing it the other candidates won’t even know what hit them.
Glenn Mollette is an American syndicated columnist and author. This column does not necessarily reflect the view of any organization, institution or this paper or media source. For more, visit his Facebook page.