Rev. Walter Fauntroy Endorses Vincent Gray

Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy | 9/12/2010, 5:21 p.m.

The Statement of The Honorable Reverend Walter E. Fauntroy
Member Congress, 1971-1991
Endorsing The Honorable Vincent Gray For Mayor of Our Nation's Capital

The election of Vincent Gray to the office of Mayor of our Nation's capital would fulfill in my senior years one of the dreams of my childhood growing up on the very streets surrounding this church, the church that Vincent has chosen as the site for the most important rally for any campaign for election in America or anywhere in the democratic world: the Get-Out-The-Vote rally.

For Vincent Gray is the kind of mayor that Martin Luther King, Jr. and I envisioned in an all-night session that we had on the day that we met when I was a freshman at Virginia Union University back in 1951.

I embraced his dream and plan for non-violent social change and the passage of a "Civil Rights Act" that would take down the "For White Only" signs across the Southland and a "Voting Rights Act" that would secure our right to vote across the South.

He promised me that once we got a Voting Rights Act, he would work tirelessly with me to get two million new Black voters registered to vote with whites of goodwill across the South and across the nation to end the infamous coalition of Southern Democrats and conservative Republicans in the U.S. Congress that blocked for a century our right to elect our own Mayor and City Council here in the District of Columbia.

I kept my pledge to work as his personal representative to the presidents of the United States and the leadership of the U.S. House and Senate to pass a Civil Rights Bill and Voting Rights Bill; he kept his pledge to make the first place that we would go to register voters would be the Sixth Congressional District of South Carolina.

The rest is history. Black voters in that District, in coalition with whites of goodwill, defeated Representative John McMillan, the Chairman of the District Committee who had blocked Home Rule legislation here for thirty-three years. Within a year and half of my election to Congress in 1971, President Nixon had to sign the Home Rule Act for the citizens of our nation's capital.

And now I am on the "threshold," with your intensive work over the next three and one half days, of the election of one who is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh: Vincent Gray. Like me, he is a native of Washington, DC who grew up among the poor of the city and who was educated in its public schools, most notably, Dunbar High School, our common alma mater.

I say "on the threshold" because as an experienced campaigner for mayors of my choice in Birmingham and Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and, yes, South Africa in the 1970s and '80s, I know that "IT AIN'T OVER TILL IT'S OVER!"

I am a city boy but I know this much about the country: "in the splitting of a log, every blow of the ax counts; but it is the last blow that spits the log." If my dream and Martin's dream of electing a Mayor like Vincent Gray is to be realized, we have got to use the ax of hard work to "Split the Log" in the next three and a half days!" If everybody does a little, nobody will have to do a lot.

What do I mean by that? Brothers and sisters, take it from me, the stakes are extremely high for the future of our quest for peace and human dignity on Tuesday. We have got to get people in our neighborhoods to vote for the Living, the Dead and the Unborn! You need to get the people in the precincts to which you have been assigned to vote for the living whose burdens will be made lighter when Vince Gray is elected.

I want them to vote for the Dead. I'm going to vote for Martin Luther king, Jr. because I know that if he were alive and able to vote on Tuesday, he'd vote for Vincent Gray.

Somebody needs to vote for Harriette Tubman or Sojourner Truth or Frederick Douglass or Mary McCleod Bethune or Rosa Parks or the Reverend Jim Reeb, the assistant minister at All Souls Unitarian Church here in Washington who was beaten to death on the streets of Selma in 1965.

Or Father Gino Baroni that marvelous priest of the Catholic Church in Washington or Father Bill Wendt of the Episcopal Church in our town or Rabbi Eugene Lipman of the Jewish congregations of our town or Sister Clara Muhammad, the founder of so many Muslim schools for the young here in Washington and across the country or Dr. Dorothy Irene Height or Dr. Ronald Walters, our superb Political Science professor at Howard University and then Maryland and Brandeis Universities who breathed his last breath at 7:00.pm. last night at his home - all of whom lived for the sake of the "least among us" and who, were they alive and able to vote, I know would vote for our Vincent Gray on Tuesday.

Finally, somebody needs to vote for the Unborn. Somebody needs to vote the children yet-to-be-born in our nation's capital who will rise up and call you blessed because you will have done your part over the next three and a half days to assure the election of Vincent Gray as mayor of the District of Columbia.

I said to a crowd at the "Reclaim the Dream" rally two weeks ago on August 28th that I have had some great moments in time in my life. Whether it was standing at Martin's side in the White House for the signings of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965 or on the floor of the U.S. House when my colleagues "over road the veto" of President Ronald Wilson Reagan of our South Africa Sanctions Bill that resulted in a prisoner named Nelson becoming President of his nation.

But I want just one more "moment in time when we are more than they thought we could be, when all of our dreams are a heartbeat away and the answers are all up to me" over the next three and one half days. Whitney Houston put it best; she sings a song that I want you to sing over the next three and one half days:

Each day I live, I want to be a day to give the best of me.
I'm only one, yet not alone, my finest day is yet unknown.
I broke my heart for every gain, to taste the sweet I faced the pain.
I rise and fall but through it all this much remains:

I want one moment in time when we're more than they thought we could be
When all of our dreams are a heart beat away and the answers are all up to me.
Give me one moment in time when we're racing with destiny
Then in that one moment in time we shall feel ETERNITY.

You're a winner, for a lifetime if you seize that one moment in time.
Make it shine!
Give me one moment in time when we're racing with destiny
Then in that one moment in time we shall be, we shall be FREE.