Pres. McMickle Co-signs Statement on Voting Rights Legislation

On July 18, 2013, President Marvin A. McMickle, Ph.D., co-signed an op-ed addressing the ongoing immigration reform debate and the recent Supreme Court decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act in June. It was published in The Huffington Post on behalf of African-American and Latino faith leaders from across the United States.

As Christian faith leaders, two of our deepest values are love and justice. Informed by our Christian heritage and legacy of our shared histories in pursuit of a more perfect union, we know our nation is deeply enriched by the inclusion of a great mosaic of people in our democracy. Our eyes are on the prize of a democracy that reflects the universal principles of love and justice. However, two recent developments in our national landscape have called us to speak-up about the direction of our shared democracy.


Just weeks ago, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. Since 1965, the Voting Rights Act has been the shield that has protected the rights of racial-ethnic minorities to vote against state efforts to discriminatorily limit their voting strength. Several of the nine states that were previously covered by the requirement have begun to implement changes in voting procedures, such as restrictive voter ID laws, that will negatively impact, and potentially disenfranchise, Americans in the communities we serve. We should build bridges, not hurdles to the voting process. As we approach the 50th year of the March on Washington and Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington D.C., the present initiatives around the country to restrict voting rights are a retreat from the promise of that dream.

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New Satellite Course to Be Offered in Buffalo, NY

CRCDS will now offer two courses remotely  during the 2013/2014 Academic Year. One course shall be taught each term at First Shiloh Baptist Church in downtown Buffalo on Wednesday evenings from 6:00pm to 9:00pm with a mid-point break for prayer and reflection.

  • Place: First Shiloh Baptist Church
  • Where: Buffalo, New  York
  • When: Wednesdays, 6:00-9:00 pm during the 2013 / 2014 Academic Year

In the Fall term our President and Professor of Church Leadership Dr. Marvin A. McMickle will teach “Preaching On Contemporary Questions: From Social Issues to Public Policy.”

In the Spring term past President and Robert K. Davies, Professor of Systematic Theology Dr. James Evans will teach “Thurman, King and the life Of the Spirit.”

Contact Melissa Morral, Vice President for Enrollment Services, at 585-340-9633 or to enroll.

"The national agenda must focus on the poor"
Pres. McMickle's Guest Commentary in City

This is a guest commentary by Pres. McMickle that was originally published in City Newspaper on January 9, 2013.

mcmickle-city-news-portraitDuring President Obama's first term and again in his successful re-election campaign, virtually nothing was said or done about people in the United States who are trapped in a cycle of poverty and despair. The focus was on middle class families and their concerns.

This is not to say that the nation should ignore its need for a strong and vibrant middle class. But another sector of our society is being overlooked and underserved: individuals and families living in poverty. The true character of our society is not defined by the tax breaks we give the wealthy or the tax incentives we give the middle class. The truest character of our society involves how we care for the poorest and neediest people among us. These are the ones Jesus referred to as "the least of these."

President Obama has largely ignored the issue of poverty. Mitt Romney actually showed contempt for people living in poverty with his 47-percent comments, implying that all people living in poverty want nothing more than government funded entitlement programs.

I can vividly remember growing up in a single-parent home in an impoverished neighborhood in the inner city of Chicago. I know from personal experience that Mitt Romney's comments paint a false picture about people living in poverty. The issue is not about people desiring government-sponsored entitlement programs; the issue is people desiring help in creating stronger and more stable families, jobs that pay a living wage, access to health care, safe and effective public schools and, most of all, an enlightened and progressive criminal justice system.

President Obama should charge the relevant Cabinet officers and government agencies to consider a national emphasis on programs like Nurse-Family Partnership, a program created right here in Rochester. This program has a proven track record of improving the health of expectant mothers and equipping them to be effective parents. This results in children with reduced rates of child abuse, lower rates of criminal behavior and arrest, and a higher success rate in school.

The intervention of one nurse with one family can often mean the difference between another generation being born into a cycle of persistent poverty, or children being able to finally escape poverty and have a chance to attain a bright future. The investment made in such a program today can result in enormous savings to our society in years to come.

Reducing criminal behavior is especially important, because a felony conviction is the single greatest contributor to persistent poverty in this country. As revealed in Michelle Alexander's book "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," the United States not only requires people to serve their time through incarceration or parole. Those same people are then haunted and hindered for the rest of their lives. A felony conviction limits them in terms of further education, future employment, military service, the right to vote, home ownership, and a stable family life: all of the things that are essential to climbing out of poverty.

To add insult to injury, the vast majority of felons in this country are non-violent drug offenders who would be better served by referral to a drug treatment program. That means an annual $5,000 cost per patient and no felony record to complicate their future, as compared to incarceration at an annual cost of $25,000 per inmate followed by a lifetime of poverty-prolonging prohibitions.

Finally, President Obama must keep working to defend the programs that serve the poor, the sick and the needy; these cannot be cut no matter what argument is made for retaining tax cuts and shelters for our country's most affluent.

It was not entitlement programs serving the poor that created this mess, it was two wars over the last nine years that have cost this country $15 billion every month since 2003. Our nation is not made strong when the defense budget is bloated with spending items that are neither requested nor required by the Pentagon. We will only have a stronger and safer nation when the voices of the poor are heard and when the policies that can dramatically reduce poverty are funded and implemented.

"Weekend Reflections on the Recent Events in Newtown, Connecticut"

A Statement from Pres. Marvin A. McMickle:

Twenty-seven wooden angels commemorating the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting.
Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

I have waited a few days to write out my thoughts about the terrible events that occurred last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. There are no words that can help us understand the depth of grief that has encompassed that school and those families that lost loved ones, both children and adults. A peaceful community will forever be linked to other sites of mass killing like Oklahoma City, Columbine, Aurora, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin and a mall in Tucson where public officials and innocent bystanders were shot and killed.

The fact is, what happened in Newtown is different in its targets, but not different in its causes and consequences. Innocent lives were taken by a disturbed individual that was in possession of a weapon of mass destruction. In Oklahoma City it was an explosive device. In all of the other cases it was guns. Not a pistol for target practice or self-defense or a rifle designed to meet the needs of sportsmen in the woods. In every case the weapons of choice were high-powered, automatic and semi-automatic weapons more suited for a battlefield than as part of the culture of a 21st century industrialized society. Without easy access to such guns it is possible to imagine that none of these horrific events would ever have occurred. Crazed and/or cowardly people do not become mass killers without access to such weapons.

Supporters of gun control gather on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, during a vigil for the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct., and to call on President Obama to pass strong gun control laws. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

I am comforted by the fact that our public officials extend their "thoughts and prayers" to the families of those that have lost their lives in this spiraling cycle of gun violence. Now I wish those same public officials would expand the breadth and depth of their courage and invite our nation to embark upon a serious discussion about gun control. I can already hear the response from the gun lobby that "guns don't kill people; people kill people." The easiest response to such a knee-jerk comment is that people without assault rifles and other automatic guns do not kill nearly as many people as we have seen in the last few months and years in this country.

Did the founders of this nation really mean that the Second Amendment should give us the right to purchase, own and carry around guns that can penetrate the bullet-proof vests of police officers? Could the patriots of the 18th century–whose weapon of choice was a single shot musket–blame us for wanting to control guns that discharge 10-to-12 bullets per second?  Is it too much to expect that a criminal and mental health background check be performed before a gun can be purchased? We demand an ID to buy alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, but do not expect rigid but reasonable guidelines for purchasing guns. Bear in mind that this is not a call to criminalize guns in America; it is a call to wake up to the fact that the level of violence we see in this country on account of the ease with which guns can be acquired is out of control.

Jillian Soto uses a phone to get information about her sister, Victoria Soto, a teacher at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn. on Friday, after a gunman killed more than two dozen people, including 20 children. Victoria Soto, 27, was among those killed. (Jessica Hill/AP)

It may be that our political leaders lack the courage to actually lead on this issue. Maybe they come from districts and regions of the country where gun enthusiasts are plentiful. Apparently the mother of the young man who killed 26 people in Newtown was herself a gun enthusiast. Her son killed her with one of her own guns. Despite the tragedy and irony of that fact, CRCDS and other seminaries and divinity schools ought not be muted in addressing this issue simply because it is politically incorrect. We are not running for reelection to a position in government. We are not looking for a 100% approval rating from the National Rifle Association. We are called to be prophets of protest in a sinful society where many are now saying that the best response to gun violence in the schools is to arm teachers with guns of their own. Is that really where we as a society are headed?

We are in the midst of the Advent season. The themes of Advent are joy, hope, love and peace. All of those themes have been challenged by events in Newtown and other communities. Someone must challenge the nation to reflect on its values and repent of its views. Rather than rush out to buy a gun, may I invite us instead to ponder the lines of the song that says, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." This is our calling. This is our mandate. This must be our moment to stand up and be counted! As Edmund Burke said, "The only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good men (and women) to do nothing."

"Human rights forum examines racism, segregation,"
(Democrat & Chronicle article)

This article was published on December 11, 2012 in the The Democrat & Chronicle newspaper in Rochester, NY.

Before destroying racism and mis-education, you must first know they exist.

Which is why a small but committed group of area activists met at the Downtown United Methodist Church Monday night, on the 64th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to discuss points made in the the book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander.

Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School President Marvin McMickle delivered the keynote address, recapping the history of segregation in America.

McMickle shared a personal experience from his youth, when his family was forced — with other blacks — to move to a segregated train car in Cincinnati before heading into the southern states.

He went on to say a family member was shot to death in Kentucky in 1930 when trying to register to vote.

Panelists, Rosemary Rivera, director of Citizen Action of New York, Ricardo Adams a community activist, and Maurice Miller, a college student, each spoke of their experiences growing up with societal pressures and temptations of crime and making wrong choices.

“Sure, I made some bad decisions, but there were some traps set for me,” said Adams, adding that segregation today is still pervasive, though less obvious to some. “The only difference between the Jim Crow now, and the Jim Crow previously, is that slaves knew they were living in the times (of) Jim Crow. A lot of us today don’t know.”

Rivera said some white community activists are too attached to their downtown protest comfort zone to go into black community.

“We have to reach out to the African-American community. We have to reach out to people of color where they’re at.”

Miller, 24, said mixed messages from his father, his friends and the streets complicated his decisions and continue to make it hard for young black men to avoid the “prison pipeline.”

Monday’s effort sprung from a book club, but Rochester activist Ream Kidane, 32 said an organizing meeting seeking to build a coalition to end the mass incarceration of blacks, who statistically are far more likely to be jailed than other Americans, will be held in January.

 – Gary McLendon (