By Reann Huber contributing writer
Members of Morgan, Putnam, and Jasper counties gathered for the Tri-County Prayer Breakfast in Eatonton to hear attorney and author, Andrea Young, give a speech on the “unprecedented possibilities” these communities have and to take part in this celebration of black history. Pastors and bishops from the three counties said their prayers for the communities, all emphasizing the need to bring the three together for this celebration. Mayor Walter Rockford of Eatonton and Mayor Fred Perriman of Madison also showed their thanks for this event and sent out their own prayers. Young was welcomed wholeheartedly by the members of these communities and introduced by Pastor Velde T. Hardy from Putnam County. “I’m a morning person,” Young starts.
“It is a sign of a commitment to be here this morning.” She continued to shed light on how Hardy is trying to do great things in unity for these three counties. “Dr. Hardy is committed to doing something for this community,” says Young. “Your presence today shows your pull to the community. Young spoke of her childhood and how she was always met with loving arms. In the small town of Thomasville, her father was a pastor at church a block away from the parsonage she lived at, and her mother was a teacher at the school down another block. Young was known in her community and there was a strong sense of caring among them. “I would go from one loving arms to another,” she says. She expressed how there should be a circle of caring among the tri-county area. “How wide are our arms? Who is included in our circle of caring,” she asked the crowd. “We feel everyone is experiencing this circle of love. As adults, we know there are too many people outside of our circle.” There is potential for these communities to make their circle bigger and more inclusive. Young talked about the progress that she has seen since the 1960s. Her family moved to New York early in the 1960s but then moved back to Atlanta in 1961 as her parents were drawn by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s movement.
During this time, Atlanta was transforming from a segregated community to the connected and international community that it is today. Young was there for these changes. This was a place to come together and be celebrated. The younger generation were seeing the issues of race take place and they were ready to do something about it. Young stresses, “The young people are saying ‘this is not working, we could do better, we need to do more.’” “We revisit that dream,” Young says in reference to Dr. King’s speech, “ending racism, war, and poverty. In a beloved community, we have to address these things.” But we have seen change and just how great black history has progressed. Young discusses that since 1960, there has been a tremendous increase in African-Americans who have bachelor degrees. In 1960, there was no voting rights act and now everyone is eligible. Even our presidential candidacy shows how much we have progressed. With having a woman, an African-American, and a Hispanic, this has been the most diverse presidential candidacy in our history.
“Our kids think this is normal,” Young says. Young closes her speech by saying these communities have so much potential to come together and that everyone has “tremendous opportunities to make change in [their] community.” “Our possibilities expand when we bring people inside our circle,” Young says to the crowd. “When our communities expand the circle… we create unprecedented possibilities.” Those in the community know they should unify. Pastor Bernard Hamp from Morgan County says, “We find our unifying factor in Jesus Christ. I pray for unity.” When asked what he would like to bring back to Madison after hearing Young’s speech, Mayor Perriman says he would like to bring “a spirit of hope, peace, love, happiness, and a spirit of togetherness.”