African American Ministers In Action

Faith Leaders Urge Senate Action on Supreme Court Vacancy

With the Senate Judiciary Committee holding its last business meeting until the Senate comes back to work in September with no action on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, faith leaders held a press call today announcing release of a statement calling on senators to end their obstruction.  The statement, which can be read below, is signed by over 40 national and state religious organizations representing a diverse group of faith traditions and beliefs and is being delivered today to Senate leadership. 

Key statements from today’s press call announcing the letter:

Harsh Voruganti, Esq., Executive Council Member, Hindu American Foundation:

“As faith leaders, we expect better from our Senators. We expect our Senators to fulfill their constitutional obligation to give fair consideration to the President’s nominee.  This means that the nominee should receive a prompt hearing, and a timely up or down vote, regardless of the party of the appointing President, or who controls the Senate.”

Nancy K. Kaufman, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women:

“Every aspect of our lives and the character of our democracy is impacted by judicial vacancies, none more so than the current vacancy on the Supreme Court.

“For those of us who increasingly depend on the court to protect our religious freedom and our rights as women, the ongoing vacancy is disastrous. That’s why people of faith, including NCJW, are mobilizing like never before to hold senators accountable to do their job.”

Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of African American Religious Affairs, People For the American Way:

“Courts matter. As an African American woman, someone who has been involved in civil rights and civic engagement for over 30 years, the communities I am a part of have relied on the Supreme Court time and time again to protect our voting rights, our reproductive rights, and our fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

“I believe that the 2300 members of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, and all voters in this country, sent folks to the Senate to do what’s right, and not necessarily what’s easy. Yet this morning, during the last Senate Judiciary Committee executive committee meeting until September, the Senate again failed to do its job, which is to do what’s right – give fair consideration to Judge Garland – and stop doing what’s easy – being divisive and nonproductive on this critical issue.”

Rabbi Michael Namath, Program Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism:

“Pursuing justice means demanding a system of justice that provides equal protection and equal access for all. In setting up the Jewish people’s first judicial system, Jethro taught, ‘Judge the people at all seasons’ (Exodus 18:22). This text reminds us today that judgement must happen in all seasons, in all presidencies and in all congresses in order for our democracy to function and protect our constitutional rights.

Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Esq., Associate General Secretary, National Council of Churches: 

“The faith community holds views that are as far right as one can go, and equally extreme on the proverbial political left, but at our core are common values that affirm love, grace, mercy and the intrinsic value of all life.  One of our roles in society is to serve as a moral compass within the public square, and to call our leaders to account when they act in ways that are unfair or are self-serving.  Christian leaders have a responsibility to care for the holistic needs of the community as well as to speak truth to power and hold the 3 branches of government accountable. 

“The Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter and interpreter of laws that are of vital importance to people of faith including immigration, voting, health care, etc. The plight of individual lives and society at large is too important for these issues to not be given the comprehensive examination and review that a fully functioning court provides. Therefore, as faith leaders in the United States, we declare that it is a moral imperative that the Supreme Court vacancy be filled.”

Interfaith Moral Message on US Supreme Court Vacancy

On behalf of our groups, representing a diverse group of faith traditions and beliefs, we urge the Senate to fulfill its constitutional responsibility and hold a swift hearing and vote on US Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland.

The constitution clearly assigns the Senate a crucial role in the judicial nominations process when it states that the President, “By and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint…Judges of the Supreme Court.” While many of our groups do not take positions on individual nominees, we stand united in our belief that the Senate’s duties regarding Supreme Court vacancies ought to be carried out in a timely fashion. The Senate’s ongoing delay in fulfilling this responsibility threatens the ability of our government to operate at full capacity and undermines our nation’s commitment to the pursuit of justice and democracy.

The 2015-2016 US Supreme Court term demonstrated the urgency of ensuring a full bench when a new term begins in October. The Court’s decisions have a major impact on core issues of American life, from healthcare to education to immigration and more. Only with a nine member Court can the split decisions that we saw this year be avoided and clear direction be provided.

We urge you to uphold your constitutional responsibility and expeditiously act on Judge Garland’s nomination by supporting confirmation hearings and a Senate floor vote.


National Organizations
African American Ministers Leadership Council
Anti-Defamation League
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Franciscan Action Network
Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement
Hindu American Foundation
Individual Citizen of Gospel Peace
Interfaith Alliance
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
National Council of Churches
National Council of Jewish Women
The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
The Shamayim V'Aretz Institute
Women of Reform Judaism
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Uri L'Tzedek

State/ Local Organizations
Courts Matter (Illinois)
Franciscans Sisters of Mary (Maine)
Hadassah, New Orleans (Louisiana)
The Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (Massachusetts)
Jewish Community Relations Council of New Haven (Connecticut)
Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara (California)
JPIC Committee of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania)
The Imani Group, Inc. (South Carolina)
National Council of Jewish Women, Arizona Section (Arizona)
National Council of Jewish Women, Bergen County Section (New Jersey)
National Council of Jewish Women, California (California)
National Council of Jewish Women, Florida (Florida)
National Council of Jewish Women, Greater New Orleans Section (Louisiana)
National Council of Jewish Women Illinois State Policy Advocacy Network (Illinois)
National Council of Jewish Women, Long Beach (California)
National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles (California)
National Council of Jewish Women, Minnesota (Minnesota)
National Council of Jewish Women, New York (New York)
National Council of Jewish Women, Seattle Section (Washington)
National Council of Jewish Women, St. Louis (Missouri)
Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (Ohio)
SisterReach (Tennessee)
Temple Sinai (Louisiana)
Total Community Action, Inc. (Louisiana)


AAMIA Statement in Support of Executive Actions to Address Gun Violence

In response to the executive actions that President Obama announced today to address gun violence in America, Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers In Action, issued the following statement:

“We are called upon to protect families, communities, and our nation in every way we can. Today President Obama answers that call by taking life-saving measures to reduce the threat of gun violence.

“I strongly commend the President for these executive actions that address gun violence. Sadly, over 30,000 Americans die from gun violence every year, and African Americans are disproportionately at risk. President Obama stands on the right side of history by siding with the American people over the NRA and the Republican Party through his actions today.”


Activists Deliver 1.9 Million Petitions Calling for Constitutional Amendment to Protect Democracy

Today, concerned citizens and organizations delivered 1,959,063 signatures calling for overturning Citizens United and related cases by amending the Constitution. The petitions were delivered in connection with hearings held by the Constitution Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee to examine the impact of Citizens United, Speech Now and related cases and the need for constitutional remedies to restore the democratic promise of America. The millions of Americans whose names appear on these petitions reflect the deep-seated public concern about the state of our democracy and the growing grassroots movement to restore government, of, by, and for the people.

Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way:

“The interests of the American people should be front and center in our elections, and today, 1.9 million Americans made that point loud and clear. But despite the message we sent Congress today, all over the country, our voices are being drowned out by the powerful corporations and the super wealthy. Short of changing who sits on the Supreme Court, amending the Constitution is the only way to undo the damage done to our democracy by Citizens United. The American people overwhelmingly support that idea, and by holding these hearings, our elected representatives are honoring the millions of Americans who are calling for a Constitution that ensures that “We the People” means all the people, not just the privileged few.”

Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of African American Ministers in Action, a program of People For the American Way:

“This petition drive proves that our collective voice can be the spark of change. Because millions of people have signed their names to proclaim that our democracy is not for sale, this grassroots movement has the power to take back our elections and ensure government by people through fair and transparent elections. We’ve made it clear to our elected representatives that a constitutional amendment is necessary to uphold that ideal. These hearings show how far this movement has come.”

Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen:

“The choice is simple: We can have a working democracy, in which the people rule, or we can have a Citizens United-facilitated plutocracy, in which giant corporations and the super-rich dominate elections. Rescuing our democracy requires that we overturn Citizens United and other decisions that constitutionalize the “right” of corporations and the super-rich to buy elections. With no prospect of the Court revisiting the damaging decisions it has inflicted, we need a constitutional amendment to reestablish the simple principle that Democracy is for People.”

Justin Ruben, Executive Director of Political Action:

“We've seen this summer how a handful of billionaires are trying to buy the election. That's one of the reasons nearly 700,000 MoveOn members have spoken out in favor of overturning Citizens United, getting big money out of our elections, and preventing our democracy from being sold to the highest bidder.”

Becky Bond, Political Director of CREDO Action:

“How can the American people have an equal voice in our democracy when corporations are flooding the political system with millions in secret campaign donations? We must pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, end corporate personhood and help get shadowy money out of politics for good.”

Bob Edgar, President & CEO of Common Cause:

“Super PACs have transformed our elections into the sport of kings. Billionaires and corporations are pooling unlimited sums of money into joint accounts, pledging astronomical sums in support of or opposition to candidates, and recklessly drowning out the voices of the American people. These corporations and mega donors are motivated by an expectation of influence and access, often at the expense of the public interest. We cannot afford to auction off our vibrant democracy to the highest bidder.”

Lisa Graves, the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy/

"While billionaires are openly writing million-dollar checks to Super PACs, millions more is being secretly funneled to front groups whose ads may affect who wins and wields power over people and policy. Deceptively named nonprofit groups are becoming the Swiss bank accounts of elections, receiving secret multi-million dollar gifts that buy ads to influence how Americans vote. We may never know the true identity of those attempting to buy our elections through such shadowy groups -- whether they are corporations or people, domestic or foreign -- but we do know American democracy is increasingly for sale and that's why We the People are demanding that the Constitution be amended to fight this corruption."

Peter Schurman, Campaign Director at Free Speech For People:

“For a campaign we all knew would be difficult, the Senate hearing today is a major milestone: it shows that the growing movement for a constitutional amendment is starting to make a dent in Washington. It's time for Congress and the states to overrule the Supreme Court and make it clear that we the people, not we the corporations, are in charge of American democracy.”

Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, National Field Organizing Director, Move to Amend

"In community after community citizens are making clear through ballot initiatives and resolutions that they want their elected representatives to pass an amendment to overrule the Court by abolishing corporate personhood and the doctrine of money as free speech. These hearings are one step toward achieving that amendment, and we won't stop our efforts until the majority of the members of Congress are behind us and show that they understand that their job is to serve the people, not corporations or the privileged few."

David Levine, American Small Business Council CEO and Co-Founder:

“Business leaders would rather invest their money to create jobs than have to compete with big business bank accounts to be heard, and they are fighting back. More than 2,000 business leaders have joined the American Sustainable Business Council's (ASBC) Business for Democracy campaign to fight for a constitutional amendment that overturns the Citizens United decision.”

Eric Byler, President of the Coffee Party Board of Directors:

“Public awareness about money in politics is growing rapidly and crossing all cultural and political divides. Just like the founders of this nation, we are responding to an abuse of power by elite profiteers who feel entitled to govern over people. The task before us is to finish what our founders started — not to start a revolution but to complete one — by amending the Constitution and reestablishing the right to self-governance for people; not profiteers.”

Blair Bowie of U.S. PIRG:

“For nearly forty years, the Supreme Court has been driving us down a road that will inevitably dead end in the demise of American democracy. In equating money with speech the Court rejected the notion that in a democracy the size of your wallet should not determine the volume of your voice. Instead it enshrined the rights of artificial entities and ultra-wealthy individuals to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens in a flood of often secret cash. Ultimately, we can only get out of this judicial rut by amending the U.S. Constitution to clarify to the Supreme Court that the first amendment was never meant to be used as a tool for special interests to co-opt our democratic process. Today’s hearing and the massive citizen mobilization across the country since Citizens United show that the American people are ready to turn this car around.”

Stephanie Taylor, Co-Founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee:

"An unprecedented amount of secret money is already surging through our political system because of the Citizens United ruling. As we’re demonstrating today, there is huge public support for passing a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Americans want to take our democracy back from big corporations and billionaires. Passing this amendment is a critical first step.”

Bob Fertik, President of

“The Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United was catastrophic for American democracy. The American people now see the results in the form of endless TV attack ads, most of which are aimed at destroying President Obama. The Super PAC Billionaires who bought these ads remain largely anonymous, like hidden puppeteers pulling on strings. One million members of are united in our determination to pass a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United and replace Super PACs and other corrupt election money with clean public funds. Money out, voters in!”

Christopher Campbell, Wolf PAC:

"Our democracy is in serious trouble. It's time to change that. It's time we end the corporate takeover of our government. The only way to do that is to bypass the corporate-owned Congress and Supreme Court – and pass a constitutional amendment. We must pass a 28th Amendment saying that corporations are not people and they do not have the right to buy our elections."

Larry Cohen, President of Communications Workers of America:

“Our electoral process should be about the rights of individuals to participate in our nation's politics. That's what democracy looks like. The Communications Workers of America commends elected officials at every level of government who are fighting to restore fairness to our political process. The role of money in politics must be completely overhauled. Today it dwarfs everything else and is distorting our democracy. Working with other progressive organizations, CWA is committed to stopping the flow of secret cash to political campaigns and making it clear to all dollars are not speech. This effort will require constitutional changes and other measures to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates for secret spending and today enables billionaires to buy our nation’s elections. We also will work for the public financing of elections, because without these very real changes, the one percent will continue to control our politics.”

Natalie Foster, CEO of Rebuild the Dream:

"Throughout U.S. history, whenever something in our democracy hasn’t been working, we’ve amended the Constitution. We’ve amended the Constitution to protect and extend the right to vote. Even basic rights we take for granted, like freedom of speech, are from amendments. Now, we must get big money out of our politics. This is another moment to make history and form a more perfect union together. "


The vast majority of Americans oppose Citizens United and related cases, and a grassroots movement calling on public officials to take action is growing stronger. This year, 51 organizations submitted a letter to congressional leaders calling for these very hearings, and more than 1,800 public officials from 41 states are already on record in support of constitutional remedies. More information on the effort to amend the Constitution can be found at


African American Ministers in Action Praise Confirmation of Paul Watford, Urge Continued Diversity in Obama’s Judicial Nominations

 The Senate yesterday confirmed prominent Los Angeles attorney Paul J. Watford to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Watford, whose qualifications earned him the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association, becomes just the fourth African American ever to hold a seat on the Ninth Circuit. He is now one of two African American judges on the 29-member circuit court, the busiest in the country, which covers nine western states, as well as two territories.

“Paul Watford as an exceptionally qualified nominee will effectively and judiciously serve the people of California as a Ninth Circuit judge,” said Rev. Dr. Lewis Logan of Los Angeles, a member of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers in Action. “And now, thanks to Judge Watford’s confirmation, there are two African Americans out of 29 active judges on the Ninth Circuit. Clearly, there’s much more work to be done to ensure that our court system reflects the diversity of people that it serves. This particular confirmation represents a substantive and significant step forward.”

President Obama has brought more diversity to the federal courts than any other president in history. Of the president’s exceptionally qualified judicial nominees, nearly 40 percent have been people of color and nearly half have been women. In contrast, just 18 percent of President Bush’s judicial nominees were people of color and just 23 percent were women. Unfortunately, President Obama’s efforts to diversify the bench have met with strident opposition from Republicans in the Senate, who have used procedural tactics to block qualified nominees.

“Diversity in our courts matters,” said Rev. Leonard Jackson of Las Vegas, also a member of African American Ministers in Action. “A diverse federal court system inspires confidence in those who turn to it for justice and ensures that many voices are heard in the halls of power. Paul Watford is a stellar nominee, and will bring an important voice to the busiest circuit court in the country.”



AAMIA's Rev. Dr. Shine Joins President Obama at Press Conference in Support of Working Americans

AAMIA's Rev. Dr. Robert P. Shine joined President Obama today at a press conference in support of policies that help working Americans.

Rev. Dr. Robert P. Shine, Vice-Chair of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers in Action and founder and pastor of Philadelphia’s Berachah Baptist Church, joined President Barack Obama at a White House press conference today in support of policies to help working Americans struggling in the current economy.

African American Ministers In Action Join with White House to Promote Jobs

Members of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers In Action (AAMIA) were joined by White House officials on a telebriefing yesterday to discuss the administration’s efforts to create jobs and strengthen the American economy.

African American Ministers in Action Reject Divisiveness of 'The Call: Detroit'

On Friday, Nov. 11, right-wing activist Lou Engle and the group Transformation Michigan will host The Call: Detroit, a prayer rally whose stated purpose is to convert Muslims to Christianity to prevent what Transformation Michigan calls “the advance of the enemy.”

When speaking with mainstream news outlets, The Call: Detroit’s organizers have attempted to downplay their anti-Muslim rhetoric, painting the rally as an inclusive gathering for people of faith to pray for Detroit’s depressed economy. However,Engle and Transformation Michigan’s statements to supporters show that The Call will present something much more harmful and divisive: an attempt to stir up misunderstanding and fear of Detroit and Dearborn’s Muslim populations while promoting a view of government exclusively by and for conservative Christians.

Rev. Charles Williams II, Pastor of Detroit’s Historic King Solomon Baptist Church and a member of People For the American Way's African American Ministers in Action , urged people of faith to reject the divisive and politically charged extremism of The Call, and to join together in prayer for a future that lifts up all the people of Michigan, regardless of faith and ethnicity.

“All of us in Detroit have been praying hard for the future of our city and everyone in it,” said Rev. Williams. “We need to keep on praying and we need to keep on working hard for economic and social justice that lifts up every person, rich and poor. What we don’t need is more divisiveness and fear.

"Religious leaders who support this event should really take a look at what its undertones are all about. As a Christian pastor I support prayer, but not to bash another religion, nor to hide behind the subterfuge of political gamesmanship.

“Our Muslim neighbors in Detroit and Dearborn want the same things that all of us want – jobs to support our families and the freedom to live our lives as we choose. Those like Rev. Engle who come into the state stir up fear about a mythical ‘Muslim takeover’ and set us against each other, distract from the real problems that we face. We can’t face our problems and lift ourselves up if we are busy tearing each other down. Let’s work, and pray, together for the future of our city.”

More information about The Call: Detroit is available at People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch:


African American Ministers In Action Applauds Obama’s Jobs Plan

PFAW's African American Ministers in Action applaud President Obama's jobs plan and encourage Congress to pass it quickly.

In response to President Obama’s speech to Congress last night laying out his jobs plan, Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of the African American Ministers in Action, issued the following statement.

“Last night, President Obama laid out a common sense plan to help put Americans back to work. Without a doubt, Congress should step up to the plate and pass this legislation without delay.

African American Ministers in Action Urge Gov. Perry to Denounce Divisive Rhetoric of ‘The Response’ Sponsors

People For the American Way’s African American Ministers in Action, a nationwide network of African American clergy, urge Texas Gov. Rick Perry to make sure his Response rally brings communities of faith together with prayer, rather than creating divisions based on fear and intolerance.

African American Ministers Support the DREAM Act

Today, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) held a hearing on the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow access to affordable postsecondary education, opportunities for military service and potentially a path to full citizenship to thousands of qualified young students striving for a better future.

African American Ministers In Action Supports A Voice for the District of Columbia

Speaking out against several policy riders that have been passed or threatened by conservatives in Congress, Delegate Norton, DC Mayor Vincent Gray, DC Vote, and members of the civil rights community voiced their support for autonomy and the right to self-government for the people of the District of Columbia.

African American Ministers Support the DREAM Act

Today, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow access to affordable postsecondary education, opportunities for military service and potentially a path to full citizenship to thousands of qualified young students striving for a better future.

African American Ministers In Action Urge Jacksonville Voters to Reject Daniels’ Divisive Rhetoric

On May 17, voters in Jacksonville, Florida will face a runoff city council election. The Democratic candidate, Kimberly Daniels, has repeatedly made denigrating statements regarding religious and sexual minorities and has for years allied herself with the extreme fringe of the religious right.

African American Clergy Condemn Vote to Repeal Health Care Reform

Today, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the comprehensive health care reform bill passed in the last Congress. Members of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers in Action, a nationwide multi-denominational group of progressive African American clergy, voiced the following reactions to the vote:  

African American Ministers in Action Responds to Senate’s Vote on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal

The Senate today ended the filibuster of a bill that creates a path toward repeal of the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of African American Ministers in Action, said:

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell denies thousands of men and women in uniform the dignity of serving their country openly and honestly, and the comfort of acknowledging their loved ones. These brave and patriotic Americans deserve better.

African American Ministers in Action Reacts to Sinking of DREAM Act

In a 55 to 41 vote today, the Senate rejected an attempt to move forward on consideration of the DREAM Act, which would lay out a path to citizenship for young adults who were brought to the United States illegally as children, and who graduate from high school with the commitment to attend college or join the military.

Books, Articles, and Organizations for Progress

Books, articles, organizations and other resources for progress.

Books, Articles, and Organizations for Progress

Books and Articles

Civic Participation and Community Progress

  • Alinsky, Saul. Rules for Radicals. New York: Vintage, 1989.
  • Cannon, Mae Elise. Social Justice Handbook. IVP Books, 2009.
  • Franklin, Robert M. Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope in African American Communities. Fortress Press, 2007.
  • Gomes, Peter. The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart.

African American Ministers In Action Applauds Obama Jobs Program

Reverend Timothy McDonald, Chairman of African American Ministers In Action (AAMIA), a program of People For the American Way, today applauded President Obama for proposing a robust investment in American infrastructure that would create thousands of new jobs.

“Americans of all backgrounds are suffering in this recession,” said Reverend McDonald, “and we want our elected representatives to do what they can to help.  The plan that the president proposed today would make a real difference in the lives of thousands, even millions of Americans.”

Statement of Rev. Byron Williams on Proposition 8 Decision

A federal judge in California today overturned Proposition 8, the state's law that prohibits gay people from marrying.

Reverend Byron Williams, pastor, columnist, a member of People For the American Way Foundation's African American Ministers In Action, and editor of the forthcoming book, Inconvenient Love African American Clergy and Theologians Speaking on Behalf of LGBT Equality, stated:

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