Friday, July 20, 2001

Lynch tells blacks to stand firm on racism

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati is experiencing a “Rosa Parks moment.”

        That's what the Rev. Damon Lynch III, pastor of New Prospect Baptist Church, told a group of black leaders gathered Thursday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for the African-American Community Action Leaders' national conference.

        Rev. Lynch told the audience that, much like famed civil-rights crusader Ms. Parks, blacks in Cincinnati won't “move to the back of the bus” anymore.

        “In the past when injustices have happened in our city, we (African-Americans) get upset for one or two weeks and after that we back up, go away and it's business as usual,” the Rev. Mr. Lynch said. “Well, this time we won't back up. We won't get up and go away.”

        The pastor and co-chairman of the mayor's Cincinnati Community Action Now was one of seven community leaders who agreed to participate in a panel discussion on the city's recent riots and the evolving political and economic aftermath.

        The goal of the discussion, sponsored by the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency, was to give leaders who are dealing with similar race issues in their cities an idea of the warning signs that can lead to civil unrest.

        “Cincinnati is no different than the rest of the country. We're all dealing with these issues,” said Carroll Thomas, of the Middlesex County EOC in North Brunswick, N.J., a conference attendee. “The difference is, you guys are fortunate and blessed to be dealing with these issues now and discussing them so that maybe you can become a model for another city one day.”

        Panelist Jenny Laster, executive director of the Grassroots Leadership Academy, said the city needs to listen to its young people.

        “We are quick to just dismiss them as a ragtag bunch of kids with their pants pulled too far down,” she said. “We're too busy judging the messenger and failing to hear the message.”

        The Rev. Mr. Lynch, leader of the Cincinnati Black United Front, said feel-good events like Monday's Unity Day on Fountain Square do nothing to address the real problem of systemic racism that plagues the city.

        “They want blacks and whites to come down and hug and kiss on the square because that's the safe thing,” he said.

        “But if they are serious about change, let's hug and kiss in the boardroom where people are making decisions about people's lives,” he said.


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- Lynch tells blacks to stand firm on racism
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