It was a balmy evening, yesterday, Sunday - and folks could have been home watching TV, at Penns Landing, watching sports, or just snoozing - but at St. Matthews Church on Wingohocking and 16th, they had other things on their mind. A Faith Rally was coming together for Anthony Hardy Williams, with none other than Congressman Chaka Fattah, Representative Jordan Harris, Rochelle Bilau, and myriad others from the community to lift up Tony Williams and his campaign in prayer.
I am going to take a point of departure from the order of program and share Tony Williams statements first, followed by Rochelle Bilau, Chaka Fattah and Jordan Harris. For the most part I'm paraphrasing the statements and comments - but I want you to read carefully, because there are some salient points that you may not have encountered if you were just relying on the meanstream media to keep you abreast of what was happening in the campaign.
ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS Ministerial introduction: "I don't need a paper in front of me to introduce this man – I don't need a prewritten speech to demonstrate a heart felt appreciation for all he has done so far the people, who for the last three decades the disparity in education when he's been dealing with it all his adult life. He hasn't just begun to talk about proper policing, in our city. He hasn't just started talking about economic development in our community. He hasn't just started talking about people receiving jobs and making the kind of money where they can take care of their families. He's been doing this – he has dedicated himself to this his entire life. He watched his daddy do it and saw that it was worthy enough the he would serve the public as his father did And that's something when a son can look at a father and see the depth of passion and commitment to raising up the least among us and say “that's what I want to do with my life.” How amazing is that that he would come behind his father and continue the same good work!"
The minister continued his introductory remarks: "It's strange that our folk are so lethargic, and seeming to be unengaged, when this is a critical time for us in the City of Philadelphia. It is a critical time, it is a turning point; it is a mission- we have to be very careful and, and the understanding that we've got to put the right people in the right place at this time. Because when we make the wrong decision, you become like Abraham and Sarah – making the wrong decision can cost you for generations to come. We've got to make the right decisions, and we've got to make the right decision and I know from the depth of my heart that TONY WILLIAMS WILL BE A GREAT MAYOR AND HE IS THE BEST PERSON FOR THIS JOB IN THIS DAY, AT THIS HOUR – HE IS THE BEST ONE! STAND ON YOUR FEET AND GIVE THIS MAYOR OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA A GREAT ROUND OF APPLAUS – ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS"
ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS: “This is the best time to pass the basket” he stated, starting off with a joke.
I'm very appreciative of all the kind words tonight. I'm ost appreciative of all you who have come here tonight to come to a place of faith that I would worship in, even it if' it's not your place of faith. I'm appreciative of all the faith leaders and public figures who have come together in my support who are here to express their feelings about an event which is about to take place in the next 48 hours. I will tell you that while my name is reflected, in terms of how you look a t a particular date, it's really not TONY TIME, IT'S PEOPLE TIME!!!
Elections always should be about people and where they are in their lives. That's what I learned from both my parents. Both of them chose to give their lives to the public. A public that was in dire need of a young couple who would sacrifice their entire lives for a community that would sometime understand them, some times not. I happen to be a stitch in that time. I happen to be reflective of values that raised me and shaped me as a man. There is more to me than just running for office; the community needs more of me than just my running for office, and make a lot of money doing it. God saw fit to change my selfish me moment into a need for me to come back and participate. I can't tell you that there would be a moment that I thought that I would be running for mayor, because I never did. I never dreamed I would have this opportunity. I don't calculate like that. But I will tell you that the moment I entered public service – I entered with a different perspective. There are certain things you say as a Democrat and as an African American, there are certain things you are required to say.
|ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS FOR MAYOR OF PHILADELPHIA|
"Truth is the reason a person should exist. Some people lie and make it should like they're telling the truth, and some people are telling the truth, but others think it's a lie.
So when I entered politics, I earnestly thought about issues that were problematic. I've been in office 26 years. And I want you to understand somethng. Some people's election cycle it amazes me the things that they say.
Me, I'm supposed to run on my record – while other people are supposed to kind of apologize for theirs. I don't have anything to apologize for.
Let me be very clear about that – schools didn't get bad in Philadelphia when the charter schools showed up – the school system in Philly didn't become broken when the SRC showed up; I'm 58 years old and there were bad schools then and there are bad schools now. And the system needs more money and by the way, the only person who was doing something about it is ME in this election cycle. And for some reason people don't like me to say that. They want me to say the charter school needs funding more than public schools – but I've funded both because I'm an independent African American democrat, not an idealogue democrat.
It's not me who says “Tony I want you to fund public schools – and then wait next year and next year and next year, because the next year he'll end up either in prison or dead. I need change NOW! So I introduced legislation with ended up providing billions of dollars in fundings for our hurting schools – but that fact didn't make the papers. I don't hold press conferences, I just do work. I don't need someone to introduce me to Philadelphians of Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Polish, Germanic, Hispanic, or Italian descent because I know them; we grew up together, we've worked together, gone to school together. I visit all the neighborhoods, and did it way before this campaign. They're all my friends, I've done this work; I've earned my moment.
By the way, I will accept the grade, but what I will not accept is people diminishing the grade, or changing the grade or the appearance of it – or a fictitious event or moment. Some people would try to distort this moment – we're in a church praying. Yes we're in a church! Thank God! I'm a Christian. That's where I should be on Sunday. Matter of fact, when I was a kid in church – this here is a vacation – because it (his church) started at 6:00pm and would go until midnight – that was with my grandmother back in the good old days. There are white people who don't understand this. This is not an affirmation of prayer for election day – it's a recommitment to what we know to be true. First it's the faith that has moved these African American communities for generations. When we started having trouble is when they started removing God out of the African American generations. The Civil Rights Movement is not just about Dr. King. They talk about him from a very narrow perspective; Dr. King represented a very broad based range of Black people who were presecuted, persecuted, arrested, hung for the right to vote. That Civil Rights Movement kicked open the door for a generation of African Americans. Women – women will tell you that the Civil Rights Movement kicked open the door for them; the disabled, those who had any conditionor affirmation that America did not embrace, the Civil Rights Movement kicked open the door for them. The Civil Rights movement embraces all of us even if we don't understand it. And for me I am very proud that I am an African American kid who grew up in Southwest Philadelphia, grew up around countless gangs and got my education and my degree in economics. But I want you to understand something – all that did was make me a better human being; not just a better Black human being.
He spoke of attending a Quaker school and learning to be nicer and gentler – and attending Franklin Marshall College where he and his Jewish classmates would argue over who was more oppressed Black people or Jews.
What type of Philadelphia do we want – I'm a Christian and some of my friends are Muslims; and some times that made us nervous – but the city has evolved in that respect. He's remaining Christian but it does not mean that there isn't common ground and areas of agreement between himself and his Muslim friends and associates.
It's much more important for the that I stand for the truth – not what is convenient for me
The community of Philadelphia is not apathetic – they're just tired of waiting for good schools. They're tired of waiting for politicians to stop dancing around and to begin to get the job done for them and their families. And to stop arguing about charter schools vs. the neighbor schools and FIX ALL THE SCHOOLS – that's what they want.
They're tired of talking about jobs and no jobs appear; or job training programs that don't train you for jobs in your city. They are glad that Philadelphia is beginning to rebuild herself; but they want to see some of the contractors license plates be from Philadelphia instead of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey. They want to see license plates from Philadelphia!!! Hell, I want to help the guy who's getting trained – I want to lift a brick too – in other words Philadelphians are getting tired of being passed over in their own city!!!
President Barack Obama not just because he was the first Black president of the United States, they voted for him because he was the first smart president; the first cool president; the first president with a good looking wife; the first president who spoke to all the people regardless of what their affiliation was. Whether they grew up in the suburbs, rural Pennsylvania – or wherever - “my kid can grow up and become the president of the United States, because he could to. I stand on the possibility and an on equality in the eyes of God.
He increased our strength – they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength – they shall mount up with the wings as eagle – they shall walk and not faint. This is our time – OUR PHILADELPHIA TIME – GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU
Rochelle Bilau: Did not mince her words when she spoke in terms of the opposition and his johnny come lately to the Black community -
“I'm going to keep this momentum going. How many registered voters out here? I need to give you the facts. I'm going to let you know. How many of you have seen that other guy (kenny) in your community or in the field, other than when they made him run for mayor? How many have seen him? (answer is NEVER); No, he didn't want to run. They made him run. Don't get it twisted! It's not in his heart to do it! Somebody had to push him to it. So how many of you have seen him in your neighborhood before now? (ans. NEVER). I didn't even know he was here; in fact the only place I saw him was in the MUMMERS PARADE – I'm just trying to keep it real. You need to weigh this over! You need to look at the facts! Don't believe that crap – oh, somebody numbers – you know how they did it. And they're trying to do it now, which is very unfortunate because they're going to lose with it! Ain't nobody stupid anymore!!!
Let's look at the little facts: our schools are in trouble; they've been in trouble. You had a person on city council that could have dealt with this situation a long time ago – why is he talking it now? Has he ever put forth legislation in the 23 years of his career in city council? Has he ever said any of this? 23 years in City Council! All right, Pre School – Everybody's talking it now! Have you ever heard him put any legislation through supporting schools – pre-K, universal pre-K? Now? 23 years ago? How about 15? Anybody heard him say it in 10 years? How about two weeks before he resigned?
Somebody- GET THE FACTS STRAIGHT! If he (Kenney) hasn't been in your community before now, he's not going to be in it afterwards. If he hasn't been dealing with the schools before now, he's not going to do it afterwards. He's being forced to run. It's not in his heart, so you shouldn't believe the hype! For you and your family if you wan't something you've never had before, that's a mayor for all of us today, then you've got to do stuff you've never done before.
They're talking about raining on Tuesday! You should make that the water you're going to need to fill your cup so you can drink it and keep it moving all day back and forth! Everybody's got facebook, twitter, instagram – if you don't know how to use it – let your son or daughter show you how to use them so you can reach our friends and associates and get them out to the polls.
CHAKA FATTAH: “Choose ye this day whom you will serve – but for me and my family... You know the gracious thing about the fact that God allowed each and every one of us to live is that we get a chance to make choices. And when we make those choices, God allows us to reap the rewards or to suffer the consequences of the choices we make. Now there's a big decision moment on Tuesday, and there are some people who are trying to play a trick, and act as if the game is over. I was amazed to read in the local newspaper from my hometown last week that the election for mayor was over. Now the desparing thing about this is that this is the same paper who two days later said, “Oops! The election's not over.”
|U.S. CONGRESSMAN CHAKA FATTAH|
It just reminded me of when I ran for the United States Congress, the poll takers said “oops!” I was pulling up to my victory party. I had won a landslide victory. And all news radion – KYW – was reporting, after the polls had closed, that I had the lead, but that I was going to lose when all the votes got counted. Now of course they had already counted the votes. I was getting ready to give a victory speech. But they were reporting to the people of Philadelphia that I was going to lose. And I point this out because it's very, very important that between now and the finish line that we keep our eyes on the prize. And that we know with a certainty that elections are won when voters vote. And not one vote has been cast; in any of almost 2000 divisions or precincts in our districts; and we also know that there's support for Senator Williams in every corner of our city. Now they have selective amnesia somehow the fact that Senator Varnazy (?) and in north philadelphia is supporting Senator Williams; or that the leading elected official the Lieutenant Governor, Michael Spratt, in Northeast Philadelphia is supporting him. Somehow it hasn't been fit for print, or for notice. Like strong labor unites and are working on behalf of Senator Williams – somehow it doesn't deserve as much notice as others.
All I want to tell you is this – it was said that we can rebuild a loss of the city if we have a mind to work. Now I was with Senator Williams early this morning – we were in church. And I know that he's got all his chief campaign staff here this evening – I saw his campaign manager here; and Senator Williams said that he was going to pause his campaign for this prayer service tonight, because as we go forward, either that article of faith, that this is a victory for this office. For when Nehemiah went to rebuild the wall, he collected people from all the different families, and all of the different groups, and they worked together, on their part of the wall. Now I've been traveling the city all day; I've seen people preparing for this victory. People working in the vineyards. For we know that our faith is critically important – that's why Faith is the key. We have come here to pray and to reflect on the moment that has arisen. This is ---- that when it is finally written, it will be written as a victory. Not for those who wish that voters didn't have a vote, but for those who know with a certainty that when they vote, they will vote in their interest and will send Senator Tony Williams to the second floor of City Hall. Thank you God Bless you all!”
STATE REP. JORDAN HARRIS: “Praise the Lord everybody – it is fitting that we host this righteousness rally in our house faith – and for many of us it has only been our faith which helped to deliver us to where we are today. When African American boys continue to drop out of school, and drop into either graves, or cells. It is befitting that this takes place in a place of faith. It is befitting because we know that as African Americans the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement were pastors and preachers and teachers. We call him Dr. King, but we often forget that he was Rev. Dr. King; and that churches were used – basements, bacl yards (sanctuaries) were used to empower people who found themselves disenfranchised - who had found themselves depressed, oppressed, and suppressed by their government; so it is betting that this righteousness rally is here in a house full of Faith.
Now the question becomes why is it a righteous rally? It is righteous because the issue that we continue to fight for remain righteous. That child, regardless of whether they're from South Philadelphia, North Philadelphia, West Philadelphia – whether their parents worked on the mainline, or whether their parents worked in a pie factory – that that child, regardless of zip code, or skin color, deserves a quality education.
|STATE REPRESENTATIVE JORDAN HARRIS|
And while people will continue to have an argument or fight over what type of school, what I know is that in my community that mother has to make a decision; that father has to make a decision; that grandmother has to make a decision based off what is the best school for their child. Because that parent understands that, while they may not have been able to obtain a college degree; or technical certification, that if they want better for the future of their children – it's going to be education – and if they equalize it to raise them out of poverty and provide for them a better edeucation. So that's why this is a righteous rally. It is righteous because very man, woman and child deserves to walk down the street and feel safe in their own community, and not have to fear whether they will be stopped and frisked because they have on a hoodie. Because every now and then I'll want to wear a hoodie; and I step out of my State Car – and I might not have my State License on me, and at that time I'm just still Jordan from South Philly. And I don't deserve to be acosted by anybody because of the color of my skin. That's why this is a righteous rally
Let us not be dismayed – I am always encouraged to be the “underdog”. I love it! I love the people who have counted me out. I love the people who have discounted and discredited my work. And in the end, we just need to ensure that our folks understand that on Tuesday the only thing we can do to send a point, to prove a point is to show up at the polls, and push the button for ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS as your next mayor, because he gets it! He doesn't just get it when it's popular, he get's it all the time. And I'll leave you with this, Dr. King said something that reminds me of Tony for this rally: Cowardice acts if it's safe; expedience asks if it's politics; is it popular; but courage asks the question, is it right. And there comes a time when a man or woman must do something that is not popular, political or safe, or expedient – but they do it because their conscious tells you that it's right. We need a leader that does what is not popular, but does what is right. And not what's right for downtown Philly, but what's right for all of Philly. Not what's just right for neighbors but for all of the people – that's why this rally continues to be righteous. Because if we're going to go anywhere in the future, we must go at it because our conscious tells us that it's right. God Bless you “
Rev. Avinger led the congregation in prayer, as all the ministers gathered around and laid hands on Anthony Hardy Williams and the entire congregation joined hands in solidarity. Philadelphia has 24 hours to make the best choice - that choice is Anthony Hardy Williams - and while prayers are wonderful, the only way he is actually going to win is when we all get up and get to the polls - take your friends, loved ones, children - but make it your business to vote on May 19, 2015 for ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS - MAYOR OF PHILADELPHIA