Black Lives Matter

William Williams, pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Atlantic City, talks Saturday about the progress made by the Atlantic City chapter of Black Lives Matter. The organization will push for civilian review committees and school curriculum reform.

THOMAS BARLAS / Staff Writer

ATLANTIC CITY — The local chapter of Black Lives Matter formed a year to foster change for people of color.

Now, it is preparing to take its next steps to bring that change.

The organization wants to push for things including civilian review boards and school curriculum reforms, said William Williams, pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church. The organization also wants to expand its membership, he said.

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The exact number of chapter members wasn’t available at William’s church Saturday, where leaders met to review their first year and plan the next year’s goals.

Those goals will be more important than ever because of Donald Trump’s election to become president of the United States, said Willie Francois, a chapter leader and pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Pleasantville.

Francois called Trump’s victory a result of “white push-back to black-brown progress.” Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign slogan had a not-so-hidden meaning, he said.

“How do we make it white again?” Francois asked. “How do we make it male again? How do we make it Christian again?”

Francois said that campaign rhetoric and the election results have many people of color are “deeply terrified.”

Unfortunately, it’s a condition that isn’t new, he said.

“It has been around since Reconstruction,” Francois said of the period that followed the Civil War.

Media reports indicate a growing number of what appear to be racially-motivated attacks around the nation during and after the presidential campaign. Those incidents were not only aimed at African-Americans but also at Hispanics, Muslims and Jews, according to the news reports.

Those reports include incidents aimed at Trump supporters.

Part of the chapter’s plan to bring about what it calls educational, economic and social justice is to recruit more young people, Francois said.

“There’s an appetite for it among millennials,” he said. “They bring energy and fearlessness.”

One group working with the chapter involves urban sociology students from Stockton University.

Stockton’s sociology classes emphasis social justice, said Christina Jackson, who teaches some of the students.

The class helps student learn about inequality and how politics works, she said. Students also worked at soup kitchens to better understand the plight of those who experience social injustice, she said.

While the chapter continues to plan its work for the next year, it has one victory under its belt.

The organization successfully pushed to have Atlantic City government designate April as child-abuse prevention month.

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Contact: 609-226-9197

Email: tbarlas@pressofac.com

Twitter @acpressbarlas

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