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African-American faith leaders mourn Trump’s election but remain resolute

The U.S. Capitol is seen on Nov. 9, 2016, the day after the election of Donald Trump as president. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Joshua Roberts

(RNS) Back when so many thought Hillary Clinton would be the next president, two dozen African-American leaders wrote to the Democratic nominee asking her to explain her policies related to the poor and the police.

African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Frank M. Reid III said black clergy will make some of the same demands of President-elect Donald Trump. Photo courtesy of Bishop Frank M. Reid III

African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Frank M. Reid III said black clergy will make some of the same demands of President-elect Donald Trump that they had expected to ask Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Photo courtesy of Bishop Frank M. Reid III

African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Frank M. Reid III said black clergy will make some of the same demands of President-elect Donald Trump.

“Mr. Trump, you’ve said that you want to bring jobs into the black community, strengthen the education system, etc.,” Reid said, imagining a future conversation after the “mind-blowing” election. “Purely as a political arrangement, we’re saying, ‘Let’s work together to do that.’”

Some African-American faith leaders, reeling from the election of Trump, say they intend to soldier on, reach out to those with whom they disagree and continue to fight for the social issues they care about, such as increasing the minimum wage and improving public schools.

After concerted get-out-the-vote efforts — from “text-a-thons” to phone banks — by black denominations, PICO National Network and other groups, some leaders say they’re still trying to figure out why Trump won.

The Rev. Barbara Williams-Skinner collected signatures for a statement by leaders of African-American church groups about Ferguson, Mo. Photo by Patricia McDougall

The Rev. Barbara Williams-Skinner is the co-chair of the National African-American Clergy Network. Photo by Patricia McDougall

“It’s like a mourning, it’s like a funeral in some parts of America, in black America, among Muslim Americans and among immigrants I’ve talked to this morning,” said the Rev. Barbara Williams-Skinner, co-chair of the National African-American Clergy Network, on Wednesday (Nov. 9).

She noted that the presidential election had an undertone of racial animosity and took place for the first time since the Supreme Court invalidated portions of the Voting Rights Act that provided voter protections.

“It makes a difference when your polling place moves to the suburbs and … when there’s no Sunday transportation where pastors can take their people to the polls after a service,” she said.


RELATED: Faith leaders ask Clinton not to ignore black church concerns


The Rev. James C. Perkins, president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, voiced similar concerns.

“(D)espite the election conclusion, the PNBC will still pursue our social justice agenda to get the Voting Rights Act restored,” he said in a statement. “It was clear during this election that voter suppression impacted African-Americans, seniors, and others negatively.”

Evangelical Ralph Reed, chairman of the conservative Faith & Freedom Coalition, noted that exit polls indicated that Trump received 8 percent of the black vote, 2 percentage points more than GOP nominee Mitt Romney gained in 2012.

“Trump’s not going to get a lot of credit, but when was the last time you saw a Republican nominee for president, or vice president, or any Republican politician of national stature since Jack Kemp who went into African-American churches in a general (election) and said ‘I want to be your champion’?” Reed asked during remarks at the National Press Club on Wednesday.


RELATED: The down-ballot issues people of faith were watching


Pastor Michael McBride, director of the “Live Free Campaign” of PICO National Network, said Trump’s outreach to blacks was not the reason he won since the overwhelming majority of black American voters favored Clinton.

The Rev. Michael McBride, leader of the “Live Free Campaign” of PICO National Network, second left, is arrested. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Michael McBride

The Rev. Michael McBride, leader of the “Live Free Campaign” of PICO National Network, second left, is arrested. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Michael McBride

In fact, he said, support for Clinton helped down-ballot measures his network had advocated. They included minimum wage increases in several states, expanded pre-kindergarten in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, and increased public bus service in Indianapolis.

Like Reid, he said African-American faith leaders will need to join other religious people of color to determine a strategic way forward after Trump’s election.

“I’m shocked and still at the same time I think I am also resolved to make sure that we do all that we can to make him as great a president as he can be and protect those whom we love from the terrible president he could be,” said McBride.

He said some of his network’s plans for a Clinton administration will remain the same with Trump but said there may be a need to prepare for “this rise of white nationalism” or a potential “unleashed” law enforcement community.

“The black church has been fighting for liberation for all people since the black church was forged so our marching orders aren’t any different,” McBride added. “We just have to recalibrate.”

(RNS Editor-in-Chief Jerome Socolovsky contributed to this report)

About the author

Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.

8 Comments

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  • Sorry to disappoint anybody, but black clergy are NOT all in “mourning” today. Black clergy are NOT all stuffed in Hillary Clinton’s back pocket. “Social Justice” is important, but black Bible-believing Christians are NOT buying everything Hillary was selling under that label. (Especially the bottles marked “Poison.”)

    Yes, Hillary was unexpectedly defeated this week by Donald Trump. Yes, everybody’s trying to figure out their next chess moves, now that the White Queen got captured.

    But Hillary was taking us black Christians for granted anyway. She wanted black votes, not black Biblical Christianity. She took the black church for granted, exploiting us like slaves.
    She thought black clergy would sell out for her Total-Unrestricted-Abortion-On-Demand and Total-Legalized-Gay-Marriage, (i.e., actually ditching their own Bibles and their own Religious Freedom on critical non-negotiable Christian family issues!), in exchange for promises of “Social Justice”, Black Lives Matter, etc. But not all clergy sold out.

    Last September in Detroit, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson welcomed Trump and placed a prayer shawl on his shoulders. Trump said at Jackson’s church, “I fully understand that the African-American community has suffered from discrimination and there are many wrongs that should be made right.” Trump will be held to that promise, but meanwhile Hillary’s Plantation is FINALLY closed for business. No reason for “mourning.”

  • “I’m shocked and still at the same time I think I am also resolved to make sure that we do all that we can to make him as great a president as he can be and protect those whom we love from the terrible president he could be,” said McBride.”

    This is how I feel too.

  • The African Methodist-Episcopal bishop is wise to throw in with president-elect Trump in creating better education and job opportunities for his community. The social justice message is bankrupt because it relies on the strong arm of the government to redistribute wealth.

    We watched as that system was soundly repudiated in Tuesday’s election. Socialism (dressed up as “social justice”) is now a thoroughly rejected system of creating wealth, or else it failed to inspire its proponents to go to the polls and vote Tuesday.

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