Southern Baptist Church on Reading Road in Avondale was filled for the Black Agenda Rally for Social Justice event. Michael Mitchell photo
By Liz Brazile
The Cincinnati Herald
The Black Agenda Cincinnati hosted its Rally for Racial Justice Saturday, September 23, featuring keynote speaker Dr. Cornel West. West is a renowned African American philosopher, Ivy League scholar, activist, and author known for his profound social commentary on the topics of race, politics, and class.
Participants began trickling into Southern Baptist Church around 10 a.m. and socialized over breakfast and coffee. Many notable community figures made appearances, including mayoral candidate Yvette Simpson, the family of the late Civil Rights icon Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Sr., and various City Council members and candidates. West arrived shortly after, donning his signature black suit, scarf, and white cuffs. Attendees formed a line and waited patiently to have their photos taken with the guest of honor.
By 11:15 a.m., everyone made their way into the sanctuary. Robert Baines of Zion Baptist Church welcomed everyone and led a prayer before Master of Ceremony Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney commenced the program, followed by several other speakers. Bishop Bobby Hilton gave a powerful speech about the need for organizing and unity among Black Cincinnatians. Sedrick Denson of the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the National Action Network stressed the importance of millennials being involved in the political process and journey toward fighting systemic racism.
“We have to be truthful about what’s going on and we have to be engaged in a real way,” Denson said. “If we want to get rid of the institution of racism, we have to have an institution that cares.”
Before long, the crowd burst into thunderous applause as West took the stage. He delivered a compelling speech on the history of Black oppression in America, and explained why a combating racism is relevant in our present-day society.
“America has yet to come to terms with the truth about itself,” West said as the audience cheered in agreement. “They ought to be glad that when we remember, we remember with love.” He went on to discuss how even after 400 years of suffering abuse and injustice, African Americans continue to push for equality without resorting to the same violent behavior used against them.
Following West’s speech, he was presented with citations of excellence for his community service and lifetime of achievement from The Black Agenda Cincinnati and the Center for Closing the Health Gap.
The Black Agenda Cincinnati is in the process of planning a Neighborhoods in Crisis meeting to address issues, such as inequities in housing codes enforcement, the gentrification of Black neighborhoods, economic disparities, and the need for increased Black leadership.