By Shedrick Byrd
“Unity!” was the word most used at a congratulatory breakfast for the newly elected Honorable Mayor, Kenneth Cooper Alexander. The breakfast was held Saturday, July 2nd at the First Baptist Church Bute Street, Murray Center.
Black Pastors and community leaders from throughout the city were invited to attend. The atmosphere was joyful and filled with excitement. The Mayor made the rounds to each table of the 150 or more participants. He thanked them and gave table members the honor of taking pictures with him.
I have never experienced or heard of any newly elected Black Mayor having such an event. The Mayor used the event to give the Black community access to him through the Pastors and community organizations. He shared his understanding of the needs of all the people in the city, especially Blacks. He and others gave expressions, of how he grew up in the city and was always dependable on doing what he promised. He shared at one point how Solomon was exalted by the Lord. The Lord offered Solomon anything he wanted, but Solomon asked the Lord to just give him wisdom. Mayor Alexander said he wanted to be like Solomon. He would seek the Lord first.
The Mayor told the gathering he could not do it alone and that communities must come together in unity. In unity there is strength. Things go better when you do them together. He said he pray for unity.
The Chief of Norfolk Police and the Police Chaplain were in attendance. The Mayor recognized the Chief of Police and stated that he and the Chief were already working together to solve many of the woes of the city crime problems. They have already established coalitions and training programs to deal with issues in the Norfolk communities.
Reverend Robert Murray, the Pastor of Bute Street Baptist Church, welcomed members of the clergy and said he prays for wisdom for the Mayor and is confident that the Mayor will be successful. At the end of the program Murray led all Pastors in encircling the Alexander family in prayer.
The event was most exciting because the representatives and leaders of the people in the community who often feel powerless to have a voice were assembled to hear the words of the new Mayor. He wanted them to know that he understands and respects their needs and desires. Through Pastors and community leaders he has given Black people in Norfolk an opportunity to have their voices heard. Norfolk’s population is 44 percent Black and we therefore should have a voice in decision making that impact the well-being growth and development of the city. This is historic for Black people in Norfolk let us not waste this opportunity, less unify and make our voices heard.
The breakfast was truly soul, the food, the music, the camaraderie. It was to me a historic and cultural experience. I loved it!
Mr. Mayor I am sure that everyone who was present at that breakfast has your back. So go ahead and take care of business!
Shedrick Byrd is a frequent contributor to the New Journal and Guide.