People For the American Way

The Progressive Happy Hour: Progressive Organizing in the African American Church

People For in Action
The Progressive Happy Hour: Progressive Organizing in the African American Church

Reverend and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is known around the world as the leader of the civil rights movement, and it was his role as a young Baptist minister that set that path into motion. Today, many African American faith leaders still lift up the rights Dr. King fought for, but connecting those values with specific actions that advance progressive ideals is not quite as common.

In the December 14 episode of “The Progressive Happy Hour,” cohost Drew Courtney and guest host Diallo Brooks sit down with Rev. Leslie Watson Malachi, the national director of PFAW and PFAW Foundation’s African American Religious Affairs (AARA) program, to talk about how she helps to fill that gap through AARA’s programs.

To briefly summarize AARA’s work, Leslie came up with what she calls “the Ps”: “What we do is take public policy to the pulpit [to] inform, educate [and] train the pastors in the pulpit, [who] then use that information in their sermons to [their audiences in] the pews … The pews then go out to the people … [to share] that message in a way that makes sense. The people [become] informed, which equals power. They go to the polls with that power. And for those of us who are Christians, I’ve added another ‘P’: praise.”

Aside from policy issues like public education and health care, AARA’s trainings also include protecting the Supreme Court and lower federal courts as a key issue. Leslie explained, “The work around the courts has become a critical component of our work … If we’re not protecting the courts and [nominating] good people who understand equality and fairness, who have compassion, who are fair-minded constitutionalists, we will have a very serious problem … I refuse to be a part of a country who defines democracy as for the few and not the many.”

Leslie encourages progressive activists to consider that “faith leaders can be your friends and your allies.” To learn more about AARA’s work and refer progressive clergy, listeners can visit their website.

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AARA, Activism, African American Religious Affairs, Black Church, The Progressive Happy Hour