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Last year, this year, and beyond: the virtual roundtable hosted by Congressman Hank Johnson

On Thursday, January 6th, Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04) hosts a public policy roundtable. An interfaith themed series, the virtual roundtable discussion "Root Causes of the Insurrection: Securing Democracy for All" is part of the larger series of a national day of observances given the riots from the January 6, 2021 abhorrent-laden and ill-intention driven actions by an uncouth collective, including the person who is put in a position of leadership, but clearly is lacking (click HERE to read our op-ed).

The 1.5 hour civil, engaging, thought-provoking, passionate, and professional conversation is moderated by Dr. Cynthia L. Hale (Founder/Senior Pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, GA) and includes a diverse cross-section of the faith and academic communities. Bishop Reginald T. Jackson (from the AME 6th Episcopal District of Georgia), Dean Lawrence Carter (Dean of the MLK Jr. Chapel at Morehouse College), Inman Plemon T. El-Amin (Iman Emeritus of Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam), Rabbi Ellen Nemhauser (President of Interfaith Atlanta), Dr. Allan Abramowitz (Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science Professor-Emory University), Rev. Amantha Barbee (Oakhurst Presbyterian Church in Decatur, GA), and Dr. William H. Boone (Professor of Political Science-Clark Atlanta University) serve as the panelists for the virtual seminar.

While the panel fields two questions, they are very necessary in looking back at what took place at the US Capitol Building, along with understanding where we are presently and where we are trying to go as a nation. In fact, the first question is not only timely given last year's events, but opens up a myriad of thoughts and concerns:

How have the events affected us as a nation?

All contribute something to the dialogue to help identify core and root causes to better assess where things truly are and raise concerns of things which can be done to better address a national climate which still has elements of discontent.

Here are a few key takeaways we gather from each of the panelists given the aforementioned opening question (make sure to view the video to watch the entire seminar):

  1. Dean Carter: Inhumanity is inherent in the United States' DNA (when you consider the actions taken towards Native Americans, people of African descent via the Middle Passage, the hijacking of the intent of Reconstruction, and Womens' Suffrage among other events).

  2. Professor Abramowitz: Who are they (meaning the Republican Party) focusing on (when it comes to voter suppression)?

  3. Dr. Boone: This country is not the exemplar it thinks it is (note the actions and responses of too many state legislatures as it relates to voting access). In plain sight, democracy is being undermined.

  4. Iman El-Amin: There is a lack of discourse and civility; war makes strange bedfellows (in looking at the Republican pushback of the Obama era and their clear deal with an inhuman element in the conquest for power), including the attempted cloaking of extremism as patriotism.

  5. Rev Barber: It appears too many care less about humanity. Likewise, an adoption of a "we'll show you" mentality culminates in the destructive actions of January 6, 2021.

  6. Dr. Hale: America seems more divisive and divided.

  7. Rabbi Nemhauser: We should look at other countries as how to reconcile (i.e. Germany and other countries). Why can't America do the same?

  8. Bishop Jackson: If the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (among others) aren't passed, the future of democracy (in America) is at stake.

Other themes and topics discussed to help look at the why and eventually, the how to better address current issues, stem from the following thoughts and notions:

  1. Backlash against Obama, including the reactions of Donald Trump at the DC reporters' roast where everyone laughed at the commentary except him (Bishop Johnson).

  2. Everyone has a role to play; what can we do and how can we save our nation (Dr. Hale)?

  3. A lack of emphasis at the K-12 level (including Critical Race Theory) and lack of dealing with the truth is hurting more than helping (Dr. Boone).

  4. White silence leads to denial (of the truth) and hampers reconciliation efforts (Dr. Carter).

  5. Too many younger adults have feelings of disillusion and a lack of empowerment (Rabbi Nemhauser).

  6. We have to start at the truth and stop accepting lying about history (Rev. Barbee).

  7. Our understanding of God's truth is relative, but we have to focus on seeking out the absolute (Iman El-Amin).

  8. We have to defeat those who don't care (Dr. Abramowitz).

Continued engagement on all levels and better connecting with moderate elements of the Republican Party are other factors that have to be considered (this comes from the panel and not from Congressman Johnson). And even the faith community has to reconnect with its roots.

"The church has lowered its voice to deepen their pockets", notes Dean Carter.

The hope is through thoughtful dialogue, more thoughtful action can take place.

As noted, it truly takes all of us.

Notes: the full video is approximately 1.5 hours long (compliments of the YouTube for Congressman Hank Johnson). The flyer noting the programming for January 6, 2022 is compliments of the office for Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04). To learn more about his work, visit his website (click HERE).


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