NCCJ Leads Organizing Efforts for Presidentially Initiated Faith Summit On Race Relations
The National Conference for Community and Justice today assisted the President in a working session on race relations with 150 religious leaders, who identified a series of actions they are committed to implementing over the next decade. The summit, entitled "Call to Action: The President's One America Meeting with Religious Leaders," was led by President William J. Clinton, Sanford Cloud, Jr., NCCJ president and chief executive officer, and Ben Johnson, Director of the Office for the President's Initiative for One America.
The summit provided an opportunity for a diverse group of faith leaders from across the country to meet with the President and discuss their ongoing initiatives to promote nationwide racial justice - and bold new initiatives to create an inclusive, just and truly United States.
Sanford Cloud, Jr. announced that participating faith leaders identified racism as an evil that must be addressed. "Racism is a sin, a problem of the heart - and overcoming racism is a top priority for our nation," said Cloud. "We came together here today to show our support for racial reconciliation and will work within our communities to translate national efforts into community practices."
NCCJ was asked by the White House to lead this initiative on the future of racial justice in America because of its long history of fighting bias, bigotry and racism. Commitments made by NCCJ for future action by the group include:
Creating an information "clearinghouse" on faith-based practices and strategies for racial reconciliation for others to replicate, which will be posted on NCCJ's web site.
Publishing a text of theological and scriptural beliefs that support the conclusion that racism is a sin.
Training for theological students on racism and how to effectively assist their faith institutions and communities to work toward racial reconciliation and interfaith collaborations.
Curriculum models for faith leaders on how to hold grassroots interreligious forums on anti-racism.
Identification of potential public policy initiatives that communities of faith can collectively undertake at the local and national levels to advance racial justice. These measures and others will be implemented over the next decade as part of a long term initiative to promote racial justice and end intolerance in the United States. "Today, with this summit, the faith communities, in all their rich diversity, have furthered their historic and rightful role of leadership in the battle against racism and the intergroup prejudices that continue to challenge our nation," said Cloud.
"This is not a one-year plan, or even a ten-year plan. This is a massive and historic effort in need of national leaders who can inspire and mobilize individuals and entire institutions to follow them on the path to a more inclusive and just society for all. NCCJ is proud to have the opportunity to work among these leaders in this effort."
A diverse roster of faiths and denominations were represented, including Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormonism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Baha'i and Native American traditions.
Participants included: Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., Senior Minister, Riverside Church; Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President, Central Conference of American Rabbis; Imam Mujahid Ramadan, former President, American Muslim Council; Dr. Kathleen S. Hurty, General Director, Church Women United; Chief Jake Swamp, Mohawk Nation; and Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon, Episcopal Church. "These are the men and women who represent the diverse faiths in our country," Cloud said. "They are capable of making national commitments to create change and then organizing action at the local level to turn the plan into day-to-day reality."
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, the Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance, in responding to today's events, said: "I applaud NCCJ for undertaking the responsibility to help us work together and make a difference on issues of racial reconciliation. Our nation needs to be reinvigorated in the important work of moving toward racial justice and, with NCCJ and the participating faith leaders making a commitment today, we can create the changes we need."
NCCJ, founded over 70 years ago as The National Conference of Christians and Jews, is a human relations organization dedicated to fighting bias, bigotry and racism and promoting understanding and respect among all. Long recognized for its interfaith work, NCCJ today serves 65 regions in 35 states and the District of Columbia and works to build communities of justice through its initiatives with youth, educators, community and workplace leaders, media and government, and across faith lines.
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