A few days before todayâ€™s much-anticipated November 4th general election, more than 300 African American ministers held a press conference at the historic Parkway Ballroom visually showing their solid support for Gov. Pat Quinn and saying the endorsement controversy by some black clergy is not confusing the black community.
Led by Pastor Walter Turner, Pastor Leslie Sanders and Rev. Clay Evans, the coalition gave a clarion call to the black community to vote early. Â Two buses and a van were parked outside of the building, located at 4456 South King Drive, to take people to 43rd and Cottage Grove, the nearing polling place. Sanders said they are urging people to vote early. â€Donâ€™t wait until Tuesday. Anything might happen. We canâ€™t have no tricksâ€¦.â€
With some division among black faith leaders over the endorsement of Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner, African American ministers wanted to set the record straight to let the masses know those handful of black preachers donâ€™t represent their political choice.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Rev. Clay Evans, Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7th), Rep. Bobby L. Rush (1st), Senator Jackie Collins (D-16th), Senator Donne Trotter (D-17th), Markham Mayor David Webb, Jr., political icon Chuck Bowen, Rikki Jones, business icons Elzie L. Higginbottom, Howard Medley and Everett Rand, Aldermen Pat Dowell (3rd), William Burns (4th), Toni Foulkes (15th), former Ald. Ed H. Smith (28th), Leonard Muhammad, chief of staff to Nation of Islam Leader Minister Louis Farrakhan, Chief Apostle William McCoy, Rev. Leon Finney, activist Wallace â€œGatorâ€ Bradley, John Clark, CEO Reggio Pizza, construction giant Larry Huggins, and many others made it clear why Gov. Quinn is the better choice for the state of Illinois and for the black community.
Often called the â€œGodfatherâ€ of the faith community, Rev. Evans said Quinn has character and is a man who â€œstands for something.â€ â€œThe man who we are supporting with God to help us and if we encourage our people to vote, we can win with Quinnâ€¦. We can do it. He has served us well against all of the opposition that he has had to go up against and has done a good job. We know him.
â€œThose who are running opposite against him, we donâ€™t know them,â€ Rev. Evans said. â€œPeople can make you all kinds of promises. It doesnâ€™t mean a thing, but Quinn has integrity. He has character. Heâ€™s been concerned not just election time.
â€œPeople think they can just come at an election and can buy us off, but they canâ€™t do that. We are men and women of the cloth. We know when a person has been doing us well and will continue to do us well. I beg of you brethren and sisters, get behind Quinn. Letâ€™s win with Quinn,â€ Rev. Clay concluded receiving a round of applause.
Turner introduced President Preckwinkle who said, â€œWhen Pat Quinn came into office, we had one governor in prison and one on the way,â€ she said referring to former Governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich. â€œIt was a very difficult time for our state, and he has restored integrity and confidence in the government by the force of his personality and good deeds.â€
Preckwinkle praised Quinn for â€œsupporting our effort to bring people into the Medicaid expansion program that was part of President Obamaâ€™s Affordable Care Act early.â€ She said the County began enrolling people in November of 2012 in County Care and since that time, the county has enrolled 92,000 people. Those are people who had health care only sporadically or not at all in their lives; so this has been a godsend to them and itâ€™s also been a godsend to the rest of usâ€¦.â€
Saying Gov. Quinn support the Countyâ€™s expansion effort, Preckwinkle said, â€œBruce Rauner said he would vetoed Illinoisâ€™ participation in President Obamaâ€™s Affordable Care Actâ€¦. Pat Quinn stands for reasonable gun laws. He believes that people who want to buy guns should undergo background checks. That seems to be perfectly reasonable to me, but Bruce Rauner opposes that.
â€œHe also believes, apparently, that you should be able to have your assault weapons any where you want to take them.â€ Preckwinkle said the only reason to have those weapons is to â€œkill as many people as possible as quickly as possibleâ€¦.â€
Preckwinkle said Gov. Quinn supports raising minimum wage unlike Rauner she says opposes it. â€œHe has even said on some occasions that we ought to eliminate the minimum wage. Here is a man who makes $30,000 an hour and minimum wage workers make $16,500 a year; so itâ€™s not just the way he made his money but in having so much money heâ€™s unwilling to be generous to those who work hard every day and make very littleâ€¦incomprehensible to meâ€¦.â€ She urges all to vote early.
Rep. Davis called the interfaith coalition â€œgodfathers and godmothers of our communities and one way we can protect our people and our community is to elect for governor someone who thinks like we think.â€ Saying Quinn is his neighbor; Davis said Quinn is engaged at the grassroots level. He knows the difference between having enough money to pay your bills at the end of the week and having nine mansions to live in because he sees it everyday.â€
Davis said Quinn understands the importance of having health care and â€œknows what itâ€™s like to fight institutions that have gouged our people and our communities who have taken their little resources and did what ever they desired.
â€œAnybody in our community who for some reason or another think voting for the other candidate is in their best interest I think it would be the same as a turkey voting for an early Thanksgiving,â€ Davis said to a cheering crowd.
Thanking the clergy, business and youth, for their leadership, Davis said, â€œthe only thing left for us to do is to be all in with Quinn.â€
On the mixed messages some black ministers are giving with their very visible endorsement of Rauner, Rep. Rush set the record straight. â€œOur community must re-elect Pat Quinn for governor.â€ Referencing â€œsome of the confusion that has been leveled by our community by some of our friends, some by members of the clergy and others,â€ Rush concluded, â€œIt seems as though when you come into contact with a billionaire then somehow you lose your sense of direction.â€
Rush said Quinnâ€™s opponents â€œare asking us to do is to focus on some kind of hypeâ€¦billionaire hype and that this billionaire is all of a sudden our friend. Somehow they are trying to redefine what Republicans mean to our community. They are trying to get us to forget about Richard Nixon and George Bush, Chaney and all the rest of those Republicans who have been so hateful and so detrimental toâ€¦our community.
â€œI donâ€™t know how they can expect us to forget how the Republicans have treated President Obama for the last eight-years,â€ said Rush. He said it was the Republicans who shut down government â€œwho cut every social programsâ€¦the lifeblood for so many in our community.
â€œHow do they want us to forget this recent history and all of a sudden embrace this Republican,â€ Rush said. â€œWe are much clearer than that. We know that they want us to eat the wrapper and throw the candy bar awayâ€¦.. We know Pat Quinnâ€¦. Has Pat Quinn been perfectâ€? Rush, who is also a minister, referred to Christ when the said there is only one perfect person.
â€œWe can work with Pat Quinn because we know Pat Quinn. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â This newcomer, this billionaire from what I know hasnâ€™t done anything but hurt people in order to reach the billionaire status. Weâ€™re not confused in this election. We are crystal clear. Our mind is made upâ€¦and when you make up your mind, the whole universe gets into order.â€ Rush said on Nov. 4th, â€œweâ€™re going to march lock step to the polls, and weâ€™re going to push for Pat Quinn and win once again with Pat Quinn,â€ Rush said as the coalition joined in the chant.
Mr. Rand, a second-generation businessman, said Illinois â€œis now leading the Midwest in job creation. The hospitality industry has 517,000 employees. We are the largest single employer in the state of Illinois. We contribute over $22 billion to the stateâ€™s economy. We are a force to be reckoned with,â€ he said. â€œWe are clearly behind Gov. Quinn. We can win with Quinn because heâ€™s one of us.
â€œHe has made a commitment to the communityâ€¦to education. I fault no one how they made their dollars, their enrichments, but Gov. Quinn has made sure that everyone has the opportunity not for our kids to just stand by and hold the ladder of success for somebody else to climb it, but he wants them to climb it also,â€ Rand said. â€œThis election is not about today. Itâ€™s about tomorrowâ€¦the future of our kids and the future of our communitiesâ€¦. We can do thisâ€¦. We got to work together. Divided we will always be the same, but together we stand.â€
Mayor Webb said he represents 14 towns in south suburban. In supporting Quinn, the mayor said, â€œThatâ€™s the only governor Iâ€™ve seen in the southland in a very long time. Quinn has not only talked the talk. He makes things happenâ€ like economic development and job creation.
Turner said, â€œWe need to send a clear message about what is at stake. We stand to lose health careâ€¦Medicare and Medicaid. We stand to lose educational funding. We stand to lose living beneath already a poverty level. Somebody wants to get rid of it so that we all will be part of the poverty level.â€ Turner bellowed, â€œWe will win with Quinnâ€¦. We need to take our souls to the polls.â€
After the press conference, Senator Collins said Quinn has a proven record in the African American community, education and other issues. â€œQuinn has been there for usâ€¦,â€ she said including supporting the Affordable Care Act â€œwhich is the heart of President Obamaâ€™s agenda.â€ Collins said Quinn has been in the forefront for funding education and other social issues like supporting a ban on assault weapons and raising the minimum wage. â€œWe know that 64 percent of women in the workforce are minimum wageâ€¦. I believe that Quinn has the consciousness and heart to ensure that we retain the guarantees and resourcesâ€ they need.
Ald. Dowell said, â€œI know Quinn has been good for the city of Chicago. In my ward, he has been very helpful in bringing back money for infrastructure. He supported a lot of social service programs that continue to get fundedâ€¦. I have not seen evidence of what a Rauner victory would positively impact our community.â€ Dowell said sheâ€™s sticking with Quinn whom she knows.
Pastor Turner said if you need transportation to the polls, in the suburbs, you should call 708.856.5228. In the city, they should call at 773.734.5483 or the Clergy for Quinn number at 708. 674.5539.
Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.