Ministers’ Conference response to A.G. Sessions’ comments

Ministers’ Conference response to A.G. Sessions’ comments
February 15
05:00 2018

Many people are up in arms following the comments made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the National Sheriff’s Association winter conference in Washington on Monday afternoon, Feb. 12.  During his speech, Sessions stated, “The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement.”

There were several aspects of this that makes his comments that much more polarizing.  Sessions has a history of racial controversy; the “Anglo-American” phrase did not appear in his prepared remarks, which means they were ad-libbed; and the Trump administration has as well-documented track record of dog-whistle politics.

Some are rationalizing his coments by citing the office of sheriff was first established in Anglo-Saxon England before coming to America.  To further their point, they say examples of President Barack Obama using the term on several occasions have been brought to light.

It could be that Sessions’ comments were just paying homage to the history of the term.  Others feel with the current climate of race relations coupled with the past transgressions of the Trump Administration, it seemed somewhat inappropriate.

Bishop Todd Fulton of the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity (MCWSV) says he felt those in the faith community needed to speak about the controversy sooner rather than later.

“As African-Americans, we have been dealing with code words since slavery,” he said.  “This was a coded message, the same message we hear from our president, which is, let’s make America great again.”

“The coded message is, when whites owned slaves, America was great, and some have a vested interest in taking us back,” he continued.  “We are the game-changers and we are going to change the game with our vote and by not remaining silent.” 

Bobby Kimbrough, a concerned citizen with a law-enforcement background, says it is a “sad day when the chief law enforcement official makes a comment like that.”  He feels absenteeism and silence is how the United States has gotten to this point.

“As long as we move in that thought of tradition, we will always be in the same place,” said Kimbrough.  “This is not what the dream was about; the dream was about progress and being inclusive.

“What is it about this tradition that he wants to preserve is my question,” he continued. 

Kimbrough says he does not quite understand why Sessions would make that comment and then “walk it back.”  He says as an African-American male who has served and protected the people, it was to help everyone, not just for Anglo-Saxons or blacks.  He feels it is a “slap in my face” for Sessions to make that comment.

“I think it was offensive and it has no place in this day in time of the 21st century,” Kimbrough continued.  “We as a country have moved so far beyond that and we are who we are based on our diversity.  Anyone that thinks other than total inclusion is outdated.”

Fulton thinks that Winston-Salem is a progressive city that can turn what Sessions said into a positive.  He feels the people of the city can be the catalyst for more change, and it starts with the church.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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