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Pastors team up to fight racism

Unity event planned for Monday

Two local ministers who prayed together about what they should do in light of the recent unrest in the country are planning an event on the Court Square in Andalusia Monday night.

“We are calling it a ‘We Are One’ unity gathering,” Darryl Calloway, pastor of First Baptist Church Whatley Street said. “We are coming together to say we don’t support bigotry or racism in the city, county or country, but we are all one in Jesus Christ.”

Calloway said he heard civil rights activist Dick Gregory say Tuesday night “Pastors, ministers, and church leaders, you must stand up and say what’s happening is wrong.”

“When I saw the peaceful gathering in Charlottesville Wednesday night, I knew it was something we must do.”

On Wednesday night, thousands gathered quietly on the University of Virginia campus, where they held candles and sang songs, then placed the candles around the base of a Thomas Jefferson statue on campus. The event was not publicized in advance, but announced in a quiet person-to-person campaign designed to thwart hate groups who might have disrupted it.

It was just last Friday night that white supremacists shouting racist chants held a rally in the same place, in protest of plans to remove a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. When counter protesters also took to the streets Saturday morning, there was violence, and a man drove his vehicle toward them, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 others.

Calloway said he and Phillip Morgan, pastor of Mt. Gilead Baptist Church, were praying together when they decided to do an event on the square. Calloway is black; Morgan is white. But each said they feel like brothers, sharing many of the same beliefs and often bringing their congregations together.

“Everybody is so busy, and we never really have time to focus as a body of people together,” Morgan said. “The more of these events where we can come together, the closer we can get. It’s a great opportunity for our community to make a statement that we love each other.”

Morgan said he thinks it is important to live peacefully.

“In order for us to keep what we have, we have to work on it,” Morgan said. “We need to live what we believe, and set an example not only for us, but for other people. We have a special place, not by chance, but by effort of the people.”

Instead of candles, Calloway said, he is encouraging people who participate in Monday’s event to bring an American flag.

“We are Americans,” he said. “We are not Alabamians, and not Covington Countians. We are Americans first.”

The unity event is set for 7 until 8 p.m. Mon., Aug. 21, on the square.