One thousand people of faith turned out at Sardis Missionary Baptist Church, a historically Black church in Birmingham, on Friday night for the Founding Convention of Faith in Action Alabama, the newest federation to join PICO National Network through our expansion program.
Faith in Action Alabama -- an umbrella organization with organizing hubs in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery and 60 congregations -- committed to address the state’s history of slavery and Jim Crow segregation laws and dismantle the policies that perpetuate systemic racism today, including mass incarceration, denial of voting rights, poverty, and inadequate health care.
In a short time, Faith in Action Alabama, with allies, has already racked up life-changing victories, including:
- Secured a commitment from Birmingham’s mayor that the city will not use local police resources to enforce federal immigration policy, will not embrace the “Stop-and-Frisk” policy, and will support the issuing of municipal ID cards once state law is changed to make that policy legal;
- Took a stand against President Trump’s Muslim ban at the Birmingham and Montgomery airports;
- Protested ICE raids and stood in solidarity with 40 Latino brothers and sisters who were unjustly incarcerated;
- Helped persuade legislators to end Alabama’s outlier practice of allowing judges to sentence a person to death when a jury has recommended life imprisonment;
- Held people running for District Attorney accountable at candidates’ forums; and
- Secured commitments from thousands of voters across the state to vote in the 2016 district attorney elections.
Calling systemic racism, a “sin,” Faith in Action Alabama closed the convention by laying out next steps to dismantle it through short- and long-term strategies, including:
- Prayer vigils on May 21 to end mass incarceration at all four Faith in Action Alabama organizing hubs.
- A Rally on June 17 at the Alabama State House calling on the Governor and state legislators to address Alabama’s mass incarceration crisis.
- Trainings in all four organizing hubs in preparation for the launch of local work on issues such as voter engagement, reforming district attorneys’ policies to help address the mass incarceration crisis, and a campaign to create a public defender’s office in Mobile County.
- In late 2017, the kickoff of a statewide campaign to end mass incarceration that will focus on the 2018 state legislative session and November 2018 gubernatorial election.
“During a time of unrest in our nation, Faith in Action Alabama stands in witness with people, across race and faith lines to declare that our God is the God of Liberation,” said Pr. Marvin Lue, Jr., Chairperson, Faith in Action Alabama and pastor of Stewart Memorial CME Church in Mobile. “Our faith calls us not only to undertake individual acts of charity, but to join together as a community to address injustice.”
Bishop Dwayne Royster
PICO National Network