Labor in the Pulpit Addresses Gentrification
Every Fall, the Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy (FAME) puts on Labor in the Pulpits, an annual tradition in which local congregations hear testimony from people struggling for justice in their communities and workplaces. This year, FAME teamed up with workers and residents from East Oakland to discuss the critical issues of gentrification and displacement. The proposed Coliseum City development threatens to push many people out unless there is a community benefits agreement with the developer that includes affordable housing, good jobs, accessible transit, and a healthy environment.
During Labor in the Pulpits, people spoke during 21 services at 17 different congregations. They shared stories of rising rents, eviction notices, and homelessness, offering a prophetic vision of how community activism could ensure people power in all planning decisions. Congregations responded warmly and emotionally, with many people sharing personal experiences with the Bay Area housing crisis.
Congregants were encouraged to sign postcards demanding “Public Land for Public Good!” on Coliseum City. FAME volunteers collected over 850 signed postcards that will be delivered to Oakland City Council and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. In total, our program reached over 2,500 people over two weekends!
We are so grateful to all the congregations who opened their doors to us, as well as to all the volunteers that accompanied speakers. We are especially humbled by these speakers, who delivered heartfelt personal testimony with passion and grace. This event would be nothing without their courageous spirit. Inspired by their example, we will keep working until we are guaranteed a Coliseum City that works for ALL!
The congregations who participated in this year’s Labor in the Pulpits include:
Acts Full Gospel Church of God in Christ
Cosmopolitan Baptist Church
First New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church
Friendship Christian Center
Greater St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church
Imani Community Church
Israelite Missionary Baptist Church
Kehilla Community Synagogue
La Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana
Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church
Oakland City Church
St. Jarlath’s Parish
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Temple Beth Sholom
Victory Baptist Church
Wings of Love Maranatha Ministries
Speakers who testified during Labor in the Pulpits include:
Anthony McRae (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment)
Blanca Smith (UNITE HERE! Local 2850)
Guadalupe Salazar (East Bay Organizing Committee)
Jacqui Stanford (Oakland Community Organizations)
Jorge Coronado (UNITE HERE! Local 2850)
Paula Beal (Causa Justa::Just Cause)
Rayna Smith (Urban Peace Movement)
Ruby Buttler (Oakland Rising)
Sharon Montgomery (East Bay Housing Organizations)
Tony Evans (UNITE HERE! Local 2850)
Towanda Hiba Sherry (Causa Justa::Just Cause)
Willie Saabir Lockett (Oakland Rising)
Yolanda Carmona (UNITE HERE! Local 2850)
And thank you to the many volunteers who accompanied speakers to weekend services!