It’s definitely something that can only happen in Birmingham, but I didn’t attend. I’m sure there are some that are wondering why I didn’t attend last night’s “It’s Time to Pray” summit at Boutwell Auditorium on Friday evening.
We actually didn’t have any plans to cover it on The Terminal since I didn’t know if I could get photographers to attend and figured focusing on other area events (and admission to the Friday Night Applause dinner I received for myself and Bets) in Linn Park instead would be more relaxing given our current financial situation. I ended up receiving a phone call from Mojo Denbow leading to the photoset run on the site late last night. I also ended up running into an old college adviser/friend that I hadn’t seen in more than 8 years by attending the ONB Magic City Art Connection‘s dinner instead – something I valued much more right now than anything else.
We ended up making a very bland post, at least compared to The Birmingham News and the Birmingham Weekly. I hadn’t attended the event so I felt all we could do was say it happened. People had already voiced their concern for several days leading up to it – though it actually took someone almost 2 days to catch the informational error in my editorial. I actually thought it was going to be sooner…
Now I’m as God-fearing as the next United Methodist raised in Catholic school, but for some reason as much as the tenet of religion from what I understand is to spread the Word, I’ve come to believe that it can be done without acting “as the hypocrites do”. Many of those in attendance, from what I could tell, were not necessarily trying to be hypocrites but were folks willing to try anything to curb a homicide rate that is on pace to be higher than it was last year. This city is quite well known for having its actions speak louder than its words and I have a feeling that, for better or worse, this should have been one of those times as well. There is no doubt that the sense of community needed to move us forward needs to be fostered, but there may have been another way that would have been less polarizing (or perceived to be as divisive).
Those that chose to protest the event did so for reasons close to their heart, most notably a wanting for a clear separation between church and state and a desire for visual changes to start occurring. While they were few in number, their voice was definitely heard and noticed. I only wish I had pictures of that as well. Most of the news outlets, save Birmingham Weekly, treated it as an issue of “OK, it happened, we have to report about it.”
I think that most in Birmingham actually protested by their lack of presence – the estimated crowd of “over 1,000” equals less than 1% of the city’s total population and probably consisted of more visitors to our fair city than some may want to admit. Now maybe it had to do more with Talladega this weekend or the crowds of people at the ONB Magic City Art Connection until late in the evening, the opera performance or the Black & White gala in Ensley, but it was definitely a statement nonetheless.
Perhaps the idea of wanting to see tangible effects of change is more important than words being spoken. Many are tired of the words and want to see action pursued instead, especially since they want to see in order to believe that their city is great. There’s a part of me that can’t really blame them. Can you?