Where Do We Go From Here?

Posted by Al Hathaway Friday, July 31, 2015 0 comments

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. coined this title when asked the question regarding the Civil Rights struggle, "where do we go from here."

 This question is very relevant in Baltimore given the events of April 27, 2015. When a major distrubance erupted and 400+ business were looted and burned, 175+ police officers were injured, over 300 people arrested, and more than $50 million in property was damaged. Baltimore received a black eye as a result of the international, nation and local media coverage. In many ways this distrubance highlighted the effects of many years of instutitional and structual racism, disinvestment in certain neigborhoods, and benign neglect on the part of many to the conditions that were breeding disfunctional men, women and children. Study after study was identifying the effects, but very few were facing up to the sources of the problem. Mountains of bandaids have being used without any diagnosis for treatment and a cure.

Maybe after the Freddie Gray distrubance, it is time to hit the reset button.

We have many assets within out city with amazing capital and human resources. Maybe its time for government to get out of the way and listen to the institutions and individuals who make up the City in determining, where do we go from here?

Our City is home to the 7th per capital largest urban city that houses colleges and university. We have no shortage of intellectual talent. We have research capacity that is second to very few cities. We have world class medical instutions that have on its staff some of the world's outstanding physicians. Clearly the wherewithal is here to solve the health care disparities that is adversely affecting our community and the improve the education outcomes of our local residents.

Ponder this thought, UnderArmor is a 15 year old business that was developed within this community and it is now a billion dollar world wide enterprise. Clearly the business acumen is here to develop, sustain, and grow enterprises. Circling over our economy is old money because Maryland was one of the thirteen colonies. We have access to capital, unforunately the distribution is inequitable, and the wealth gap is widening.

Baltimore is home to the great religious movements in America: Roman Catholism and Methodism. We are also home to the second largest Jewish community outside of New York. A.M.E., A.M.E. Zion and the African American Baptist Movement all have strong roots within this community. The Greek Orthodox movement and many other faith movements are located within our boundaries. There should be no lack of spirituality to lead us out of this malise.

What's missing? Trust, common values and vision are key ingrediants needed for progress and transparency. Shared leadership is necessary to propel us to another level.

If the population of Baltimore City is around 600,000, we need the active participation and consultation of more than 60,000 people to turn as Congressman Cummings would say, "this moment into a movement."


No More Jail

Posted by Al Hathaway 0 comments



Yesterday, Governor Larry Hogan annouced that the Baltimore City Detention Center will be closed immediately. That was wonderful news, but the reason was somewhat depressing.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-hogan-jail-qa-20150730-story.html

The basic reason was the facility has been a cesspool for coruption, substandard penal practices, and an ancient and decrepit building. For a building that was built in the middle 1850's, while modern for its era, it was solely out of date for today. It should have been retired, decommissioned, and/or closed long ago. Unfortunately, the facility not only was continued in use, it was overcrowded to boot.

Instead of our society addressing the underlying issues that created the need for a jail of this size, we continued the fail practise of inadequate education, inefficient job preparation and training, discrimatory housing, and a system of public subsidies that created a class of people who were dependent versus being empowered. Layer upon this prescription for disaster was the wholesale importing, distributing, and selling of drugs to a population of people. It didn't help that the social fabric of intact families were at risk as well. The Baltimore City Detention Center sybolized every thing that is wrong in our society.

Wouldn't it have been wonderful if the reason for closing the facility had been it was no longer needed because violence had subsided, criminal activity had been replaced with productive actions; criminal lawyers were changing their careers to other areas because they were no longer needed, grand juries were disbanded, and respect, moral character, and dignity was the order of the day.

Wouldn't it be marvelous if we had successive record years of no murders, no robberies, no mischief; because we have learned to live as neighbors and become the model for the world as a harmonious society.We no longer needed the jail because people were no longer engaged in criminal activity.

The challenge of demolishing this facility, is that maybe in the not to distant future, there will be a call and a need to build a modern larger facility because the ever increasing patterns of crime will mandate the need.

www.unionbaptistmd.org

A Love Supreme

Posted by Al Hathaway Wednesday, July 29, 2015 0 comments

In a conversation today with Avon Bellamy, we reflected on the impact of John Coltrane's "Love Supreme" album.

It was recorded in Decemeber 1964. America was in the midst of the Vietnam War, Civil Rights struggles, Dr. King, Jr. and Malcom X, Muhammed Ali, and the brewing racial distrubance in the air.

America needed a calming influence to, at least, temporarily release tension and, focus people's minds on the higher order of life. John Coltrane delivered with this amazing album of sound, spirituality, and resonance.

Without any need for herbal or pharmaceutical stimulant, Coletrane is able to lift your mind and spirit to another plain. If love is the essence of God, Coltrane dips you into the soothing balm of love supreme and allows you to touch the hem of God's garment.

If you need a spiritual lift and want to reflect and relax, go to your uncle's closet and pick up his copy of this album, gather your family, especially your children, and expose them to John Coltrane at his best.

Over 50 years later, this recording is as fresh and stimulating as it was when it was first released.

Yes, a Love Supreme, a Love Supreme!!!!

http://www.johncoltrane.com

Praying for Cissy

Posted by Al Hathaway Monday, July 27, 2015 0 comments

During the late 80's I was the Executive Director of St. Pius Housing, an innovative community development organization in West Baltimore. It was one of the early affilates of James and Patty Rouse's Enterprise Foundation. I was proud to call them my friends and mentors. While many of our efforts to transform a neighborhood were idealistic, it was an eye opening experience for my understanding of how public policy, institutional racism, and disinvestment impacts a neighborhood and discriminates against its residents. Nevertheless, I was proud to work with a cadre of community, foundation, and public officials who were willing to at least try to make a difference.

A colleague recommended to me that I consider hosting a concert as a fundraiser and feature a gospel artist, Cissy Houston, as the guest talent. It was at that time a bold idea for a community based development organization. I accepted the challenge and began working with Ms. Cissy Houston as I made the arrangements to bring her to the Harlem Park community. As I reflect deeper, the year was 1985.

I would call Ms. Cissy Houston and talk with her about the logistics, songlist, and accompanying artists. I had a limited budget and was using as a venue the former St. Pius V Roman Catholic Church on the corner of Edmondson Avenue and Schroeder Streets. Through those conversations, I became a casual friend of Ms. Houston. Her husband, who she later divorced, was a housing official in New Jersey. Her daughter was a budding singer who after an early career in modeling just signed with Clive Davis as a soloist, Whitney Houston. Unbeknowst to members of the community, if the contract with Mr. Davis had not just been signed, Ms. Cissy Houston was going to bring her daughter, Whitney and her son along with her to back her up at the concert.

The Cissy Houston Concert was a big hit in the community and she performed before a packed church in West Baltimore. From those early conversations with her I became intrigued by this beautiful woman who sang as back up on major records throughout her career. Elvis Pressey confided in her to add soul to his songs and she with a background group sang on many of his hit records. He was so close to her that he gave her $40,000 to purchase her home in New Jersey, an amazing amount of money in those days. When Luther Vandross wanted the soul sound on his recordings he contacted Ms. Cissy Houston and the rest is history.

Ms. Cissy Houston was grounded in her church in New Jersey. She was an amazing woman of faith with talented children, talented relatives, and surrounded by talented friends. Her talent took her to places unheard of for an African American women of her time and era.

She was very proud of the solo career of Whitney Houston. Her daughter lived the life she dreamed of and commanded top dollar for her performances.

I join Cissy Houston in her sorrow. Losing her daughter, Whitney, too soon, and now her grandaughter, Bobbie Kristina Brown, at an early age as well.

I'm no longer close to her, so many years have passed. I'm unable to call her at home to express my sincere and deep sympathy. Cissy Houston has lived much of her life in the public arena and now her pain has to be played out in the public arena as well. This amazing woman who I befriended years ago, also introduced me to Lionel Hampton who planned to do a concert with me as well.

I grieve for Ms. Cissy Houston and pray that God will provide her some modicum of peace during this period of unspeakable pain.

I will never forget her generousity and willingness to support the cause of providing affordable housing to residents of West Baltimore a long time ago.

Pondering Moments

Posted by Al Hathaway Saturday, July 25, 2015 0 comments

There are moments in life that causes you to pause, step back, and think things through.  


It's good to take time "to count to ten." So much of life is kinetic action: thoughtless, mindless, continuous, endless movement, and non stop grinding.

Taking a break allows you to put things into perspective. Taking a break distinguishes between ought to do's, must do's, what others say you should do, why do's, and have to do's.

Taking a break places the onus of life upon you and God and takes it off of humankind.

I love pondering moments because they allow my thoughts to fully develop without interference.

Driving through a foreign country

Posted by Al Hathaway Friday, July 24, 2015 0 comments

I had the pleasant and intriguing experience of driving the roadways of Costa Rica. I drove over 300 miles round trip. What was their highway we would call a country road. The scenery was lusciously green and reflected the tropical climate of the area. It's their rainy season so periodically I had to use my windshield wipers to clear the glass of rain. Drivers are aggressive and if you want to make progress you have to be aggressive as well. 


My drive was a metaphor for our Christian journey in a foreign land. We are travelers on a round trip. We come from God and after our journey we return to God.  

About to have breakfast

Posted by Al Hathaway Thursday, July 23, 2015 0 comments

Waking up in the morning and getting breakfast seems like fairly routine. For many that is the case. A pot of coffee or tea, some eggs and bacon, some fruit and juice, or some toast and jam is as regular as turn the page of a newspaper. Unfortunately far too many children don't know this routine and for them breakfast is not their reality.


I'm happy to know that The Beloved Community Services Corporation, an affiliate of Union Baptiat Church, will begin feeding breakfast and lunch to 75 children daily beginning this Monday who live in the Upton community.

Join us and witness the smiling faces of young people being fed, encouraged and affirmed.


Traveling Mercies

Posted by Al Hathaway Wednesday, July 22, 2015 0 comments

I often reflect on the blessings of God, particularly when I pray for traveling mercies. The world is an amazing place. Clearly a person who ventures beyond their normal travel patterns has been granted traveling mercies. From my balcony I see portions of the Pacific Ocean and reflect upon the first time I viewed it from the shores of California. I thank God for traveling mercies. To think of the role of the Wright Brothers in air travel and now with increasing frequency to board an airplane and to travel to places never seen before is nothing short of traveling mercies. To be welcomed by new people in new places is God's grace sprinkling in with His mercy.


On second thought a simple drive to the grocery store is traveling mercies as well.

Thank you God!

www.unionbaptistmd.org

The tragedy of low aim

Posted by Al Hathaway Tuesday, July 21, 2015 0 comments

Dr. Benjamin Mays once remarked, "low aim is a sin," while talking to a group of graduates of Morehouse. During that moment he also recited a poem which illustrated the power of sixty seconds. Too often we waste time on aiming low and as a result we miss the awesome move of a big God.

I'm proud of the response my children have made to that advice long ago. "Dream big" I would say to them. "Think big thoughts" I would suggest to them. "Why be small" I would proclaim to them.

Now many years later their thinking encourages me, inspires, and advises me. The power of young minds is unimaginable. Their thinking is disrupting traditional marketing. Their thinking is improving the way we live. Their thinking is changing the way we do business.

For example, we once thought calling a taxicab was the way to get around town, until young minds develop the application, Uber. Now travel around the world has been made simpler because of the power of thinking big.

What if we avoided thinking small, aiming low, or being petty? What if we spent more time on thinking big thoughts? Life would be grand and the possibilities would be endless.

It is said that small minds talk about people. Medium minds talk about events. Large minds talk about concepts. Guage yourself by what you think about and discuss and you will discover you can still grow.

The tragedy of low aim is a sin. The power of thinking big is that you come to know God!

www.unionbaptistmd.org

Shifting my car into neutral

Posted by Al Hathaway Monday, July 20, 2015 0 comments

I was paying close attention to the gear shift of my car's transmission. When stationary my car's gear shift is in the park position, especially when the engine is off and its sitting in my driveway. As I turn the car's engine on I place the gear shift either into drive or reverse. Then I thought for a moment what is the purpose of the neutral gear? When the car is in the neutral gear the engine is running but the car is neither moving backward or forward, it is simply sitting still, idling. Then I realized it is important to shift your car into neutral every now and then and allow the engine to run without the pressure of being in traffic, running over pothole, or avoiding traffic control lights. Being in neutral literally is allowing the car to run without it having to work. Just being idle is not being slothful. It's working while resting, a very pleasant thought.

I'm planning to act like a car for a few days. I plan to take a break from driving along the highway of life. I'm not going to stop. My engine will keep running but I'm not going to travel back and forth, I'm going to take a break, be idle.

Yes, take a break and allow my engine to run while looking at my surroundings, while thinking about my future, and while thanking God for His many blessings.

Every now and then you should shift your car into neutral and take a break from the hectic merry-go-round of life.

I'll see you later when I shift my gear into drive!

Organizing yourself in the midst of a worldwind

Posted by Al Hathaway Saturday, July 18, 2015 0 comments

I was recently given the distinct honor of organizing the national release of Ta-Nehisi Coates' book, "Between the World and Me," at Union Baptist Church.

Union Baptist Church is an historic venue which has seen persons such as Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Dubois, Samuel DeWhitt Proctor, Howard Thurman, Samuel Yette, Taylor Branch, Andy Young, Jesse Jackson, Levi Watkins, Vernon Dobson, Freeman Hrabowski, Marian Wright Edelman, Maya Angelou, Lawrence Jones and many others grace its pulpit.

Working on an appearance by Ta-Nehisi with his father for over a year, I was caught by surprise when the November, then September, date was moved up to holding it within thirty days on July 15, 2015.

Thirty days to organize a major national book release, national media calling to make arrangements, national publicists with their expectations, identify and marketing tickets to a targeted audience through Eventbrite, broken air conditioner unit and getting it repaired, unexpected call to conduct a funeral service, arranging the debut of the Baltimore City College Alumni Choir, managing the 40th reunion of the Class of 1975, dealing with reporting requirements for grants received, preparing sermons and worship outlines; how could you possibly organize a national book release in the midst of a worldwind like this?

First, I thank God for my training: organizer training by the Industrial Areas Foundation, developmental training by the Boy Scouts of America, relgious training by St. Mary's Seminary and Union Theological Seminary, leadership training by the members of Union Baptist Church, and family training by my Hathaway clan; prepared me for this momunmental task.

Second, an amazing congregation, Union Baptist Church, who embodied so many amazing skills of which rallying around a great clause is one such skill. Led by The Women of Union, The Youth of Union, The Trustees of Union, The Deaconess of Union and The Deacons of Union; they followed the playbook I developed to a tee. My church staff filled in the gaps and took the responsibility to ensure our facility, signage and public materials were ready. And to top it off, support from Rev. Dr. Frank Reid and The Bethel Nation that provided the people power and the security which clause a multi-racial audience to come and go safely.

Third, I was blessed by a thoughtful family, my wife, my sister, my son, my daughter, my nephews, and my brother-in-law were my nuclear unit. They comforted me, criticed me, convinced me, and eventually consolidated and concretized by plans and helped me to execute a near flawless plan.

Fourth and most important, I did not forgo my personal meditation and reflection time with God. I got up even earlier in the morning to seek God's inspiration and to bask in His love.

I'm reading the reviews of the event in the New York Times and Baltimore Sunpapers. All mention the historic venue of Union Baptist Church as the placed that launch what is destined to be a national book seller, "Between the World and Me."

How do you organize yourself in the midst of a worldwind? You do it by leaning on the everlasting arms of God!

An Amazing Five Days

Posted by Al Hathaway Sunday, July 12, 2015 0 comments

Everyone has segments of life that outdistance other moments. Special days, special weeks, or a special period of time that seems to elevate your life in a very spiritual way. I challenge all of you to never become so cynical of life that you fail to enjoy the spectcular moments it does brings. The shooting star, the double rainbow, the full moon, the bright Venus, or the after blast of the Blue Angels flying through the sky; I don't know what moments may arrest your attention, but I do know you do have them.

Beginning Saturday, July 11th through July 15th I find myself experiencing an amazing five days. It began with the extravaganza of The Baltimore City College Alumni Choir; it continued with the Youth of Union and Community traveling to Hersey Park for a summer outing; the spiritual reunion of the Class of 1975 of Polytechnic Institute lifed my spirits and was encouraging to my soul; and the crescendo continues and concludes with the national book release of Ta-Nehisi Coates' "Between The World and Me."

Throughout this experience I'm meeting wonderful people, I'm witnessing my church family congeal into a cohensive unit, and watching efforts become magnified on a national level.

Your period of amazement may not be similar to mine, but I serve a God who turns random moments into a symphony of opportunity to experience Him anew.

I recommend you begin to write in your journal the amazing moments of your life and I believe you will discover God moving you to higher heights and greater growth in His presence.

If you want to experience the power of excellence in signing and the drama of spirited worship and praise, do not miss this Saturday's July 11th concert of the Baltimore City College Alumni Choir at Union Baptist Church, 1219 Druid Hill Avenue beginning at 4:00 p.m.

You can get your free ticket or VIP tickets from 

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/baltimore-city-college-alumni-choir-reunion-concert-tickets-17534187226?aff=ebsavedevents

Come and have your spirits revived!

On being fired

Posted by Al Hathaway 0 comments

To anyone hearing the words, "You are fired," that can be nerve wrecking. Losing your economic lifeline, wondering what you will do next, and dealing with the lost of confidence in your ability to continue in a position are the outcomes of being fired.

I can't imagine the torment. I'm unable to process the disappointment. I'm at a lost for words as to what you say to your family and friends when you have been uncermoniously dismissed, fired, or terminated.

Most people do not have the benefit of a serverance pay. Most people do not have the luxury of kinds words being uttered as you depart and pack your bags. Most people do not have their names printed in the media or they faces posted as well. Most people are simply shown the door with their badges and privileges taken away.

I'm reflecting upon the goodness of God who never says, "You are fired!"

What God says to each of us is, "You are redeemed!"


Reflections of Meeting with Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford

Posted by Al Hathaway Wednesday, July 8, 2015 0 comments

"Boyd K. Rutherford is the ninth and current Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, since January 21, 2015. Rutherford was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as Associate Administrator, U.S. General Services Administration, 2001-03. Rutherford then joined the administration of Governor Bob Ehrlich, serving as Secretary of General Services 2003 - 2006. He was again appointed by President Bush to serve as Assistant Secretary for Administration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he served from 2006 - 2009. Rutherford is the third African American in a row elected to the office of Lieutenant Governor in Maryland." source wikipedia.org 7/8/15

Against this backdrop, I joined with members of The Baltimore Interfaith Coalition in a meeting with the Lieutenant Governor and Mr. Keiffer Mitchell, Special Advisor to the Governnor. With me were Bishop Denis J. Madden, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Maryland; Bishop Wolfgang Hert-Lane, bishop of the Delaware-Maryland Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Mr. Michael Brady, COO of Abacus Corporation and Maryland Stake President of Church of Latter-Day Saints; Iman Earl El-Amin, The Muslim Community Cultural Center of Baltimore; and Father Albert Scharbach, Mount Calvary Church.

After meeting with Lt. Rutherford, I left with the impression that he is a very competent administrator and interpetor of public policy. While he clearly communicated he was fiscally conversative, it was balanced with a sense that he understood goverment's role in providing a safety net for its most vunerble citizens. He communicated that choice is a value every person should have and that redemption and restoration should be operative in public policy and practical in public implementation. It wasn't long before he opened up and shared values transmitted to him from his father: education, hard work, family, and service to the community. His passion was genuine and his laughter was inflectious. I left the meeting realizing I was dealing with an African American male with unusual qualities. Even in our disagreement, he articulated his position in a clear manner; so that you understood the premise upon which he operated. I left recognizing this man in this position is someone who will listen and someone with whom I can work to improve life for residents of Baltimore City and The State of Maryland.

Stay tuned you will witness Baltimore Interfaith Coalition (BIC) doing much good for residents of this great state.

Meeting Later Today with the Lt. Governor of Maryland

Posted by Al Hathaway Tuesday, July 7, 2015 0 comments

Life has allows me the opportunity to meet with many people and to discuss issues, policies and programs that uplife people. I've learned through reading the prophets of old, they were never afraid or intminated by status or position. I have also learned from them that the only favor you need to incur is the favor of God. There is nothing man can give you except it is ordained by God.

I will be joined by leaders of religious denominations. Its an unusual alliance, but it is one borne out of prayer, trust and mutual respect. We are at a pivotal time in the life of our City, State and Country. It is important that people of faith and good will coalesce and work together to produce positive outcomes for people. Real leadership stands the test of time. Real leadership is willing to work for results. Real leadership is accountable to God.

I'll share with you in my next post my impressions of the Lt. Governor of the State of Maryland.

Restoring a broken spirit

Posted by Al Hathaway Monday, July 6, 2015 0 comments

"There's a broken spirit about Baltimore," he said, "and we have to rebuild it." by Loring Cornish
In today's Baltimore Sun you will find the above quote from Rev. Loring Cornish. He is restoring a police substation in Baltimore using his creative mosiac glass art technique. 
In reflecting on the essence of this statement, I find during my prayer moment, we should all pray for a restored spirit among the people of Baltimore, Maryland and the world. Too much anger, distrust, and mean spiritedness exists. Too much suspicion, separation, and stupidity exists as well. God may we all examine ourselves and eliminate all sort of evil thoughts, actions and deeds. "Create within each of us a new heart and renew within each of us a right spirit."

4th of July, Independence Day

Posted by Al Hathaway Saturday, July 4, 2015 0 comments

I'm in Baltimore listening to firecrackers being exploded by novices. Given the increase in gunshots and violence, hearing the sound of mini-explosions produces an erie feeling. Should I duck, lay on the ground, look out the window, or hold my hands to my ears; the sounds, instead of being enjoyable and exciting, they are scary and somewhat terrifying. July 4th celebrations should not produce those kinds of feelings. We should feel the excitement of being free!

Maybe the tenseness I feel is due to the fact we are not free. We are revisiting old conversations and pulling the scab off of old wounds, particularly as we talk about taking the Confederate battle flag off of pole on the grounds of the Capital in South Carolina and elsewhere. This flag is a symbol of defiance and degradation.

Maybe we are not free when we are hiding in our homes because of the increasing killings occuring in urban setting throughout America. Is the issue police violence, without identifying violence that any type is evil? It is ironic that people are moving about their communities fearing the police officers and the element that is producing violent outcomes, as well.

As I honestly reflect, I'm free because the God I serve through His Son Jesus Christ has set me and all of us free. This is the ultimate sense of freedom. It is greater than civic or historical freedom: it is the spiritual freedom one achieves when you acknowledge in your spirit that Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

Happy Independence Day! July 4, 2015 begins a new era in our journey towards Him.

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