Pastor Mike McBride of The Way Christian Center and co-founder of the Black Church PAC held an emergency meeting Saturday morning in response to “immediate threats” concerning gun violence and voting rights.
Specifically, the meeting was a national call between more than 70 church leaders and the Black Church PAC where they discussed the ongoing Fund Peace Now campaign. McBride explained that rather than focus on ending violence, the national campaign is committed to funding peace and violence interruption.
In particular, the campaign leaders plan to organize peacemaking teams to respond to violence while it is still occurring.
McBride noted that the campaign has raised $5 billion from U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration and is also eligible for $350 billion through the American Rescue Plan, an economic stimulus bill for COVID-19 recovery.
In addition, he added that the neighboring communities have come together to raise extra funds for the peace campaign. Currently, Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond residents have raised $200,000 in funds.
According to McBride, the Democratic party and Congress are not doing enough to protect voting rights. In fact, he noted that Congress’ response toward campaigns such as Fund Peace Now has been detrimental to Black voting rights and involvement in democracy.
“The response has been anemic in face of the onslaught to limit the ability of Black voters to participate in democracy,” McBride said.
McBride explained that the responses from elected officials have been slow and added that it is a “travesty” that the community must raise its own money for American Rescue Plan funds, rather than receiving the financial support needed from elected officials.
Despite the lack of support from elected officials, McBride emphasized the critical role that Black churches and laity have had both historically and currently in promoting peace and voting rights.
McBride noted that Black churches have been a “catalyst” in bringing political participation and civic education to the community.
“Black churches have been historic foundations for ensuring voting rights and they have been turnout machines for elections across the country,” McBride said.
He also added that the Black church community is important to Black families who have lost loved ones to gun violence.
According to his website, McBride’s campaigns to prevent gun violence and promote public health have contributed to the reduction of 30% to 50% of gun-related homicides in Stockton, Oakland, Baton Rouge, Camden and other cities in the United States.
Furthermore, McBride expressed how grateful he has been to receive such support from Black church members and sees hope in the commitment many have toward voting rights and peace.
“I’m always hopeful that there are Black leaders becoming peacemakers,” said McBride. “It makes me so excited to see those committed to voting rights and Black liberation, which we know liberates all those oppressed.”