Organizing yourself in the midst of a worldwind

Posted by Al Hathaway Saturday, July 18, 2015

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!

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