This letter is written to refute the recent criticism of Gov. Deval Patrick’s response toward the black community.
An excerpt of a letter printed in the Boston Globe on Wednesday, June 10, 2009, distorts the truth in regard to the governor’s support of the black community. We find the letter at best ill-informed, and at worst self-serving, disingenuous and grandstanding. Although it is reasonable as African Americans to have high aspirations for an African American governor, we must be cognizant of the bureaucratic pace of government.
As members of the African American clergy, many of us have never enjoyed an open-door relationship with previous governors. In the past, both the Republican and Democratic governors of our Commonwealth only allowed a select few clergy to sit at the table and be privy to meaningful discussions regarding the allocation of resources. Under Gov. Patrick’s leadership, many clergy from the African American community have been able to give input into plans for jobs and programs.
During these tough economic times, as clergy we should be in the posture of prayer, not offering undue criticism. The governor has been accountable to the residents of the Commonwealth by displaying integrity and openness. However, we must be mindful of financial restraints caused by a strained global economy. In the midst of the lack of resources, the governor has found ways to support various programs and initiatives.
During a time of a resurgence of violence in Boston, the Patrick administration gave state funds to the city to help curtail the turmoil. Although it is not the governor’s primary responsibility to deal with local politics, he stepped up because he is sincerely concerned about the plight of our urban areas. He meets with young people on a regular basis and has provided them with opportunities for more employment. He has done this outside the glare of cameras and without a desire for personal acknowledgement.
No governor has ever spent the amount of time and effort speaking directly to young people — not for a photo op, but to make an impact — that Gov. Patrick has. Nor has any governor ever spent the amount of time in our churches that he has, whether consoling, inspiring or simply praying with us.
Gov. Patrick’s priorities have touched many underserved communities. These priorities include:
• Violence prevention funding. Even as budgets are being slashed across the board, Gov. Patrick has made it a priority to protect some funding to reduce the level of violence in our communities.
• Jobs. Our governor has fought for jobs in our communities by advocating for summer jobs programs for at-risk youth and private investment in our neighborhoods. Earlier this year, he announced the release of 10,000 summer jobs for youth through the U.S. government’s stimulus package.
• CORI reform. This is the first governor ever to file CORI reform legislation that ensures public safety, but also focuses on reintegration and creating job opportunities for ex-offenders to help break the cycle of incarceration and hopelessness.
• Empowering youth. The Governor’s Statewide Youth Council has given a voice to young people from all walks of life and all regions of the state.
Like others, we desire more resources from government. But we can say with all honesty that even within this current recession, the black community has received more jobs and access to state government from the Patrick administration than from previous governors. Therefore, we can not be sidetracked by individuals who are not working to support the common good of Massachusetts residents.
We often do not see the presence of this lone critic as we bury homicide victims, pray together for peace, walk the urban streets, speak at schools and continue to advocate for jobs. We believe that the latest criticism toward our governor is just another distraction and act of division.
As we move forward to deal with a plethora of social, economic and spiritual issues, we must forge ahead with unity and strength. We support Gov. Deval Patrick as he leads our state during these trying times. We also pray for the peace and prosperity of our Commonwealth and our nation.
Statewide Black Clergy For Unity is a network of urban pastors of Massachusetts that focuses on promoting peace, economic opportunities, social justice and spiritual enrichment throughout the Commonwealth.