DURHAM (WTVD) -- Coronavirus concerns are the reason for a mostly empty St. Joseph AME Church in Durham for their second virtual Social Justice Sunday. Pastor Jay Augustine's ongoing series at the church during services focuses on community engagement and political awareness.
On this day, "We deliberately focus on the demographic of African-American men, to encourage them and make sure they have the motivation to get out and vote," Augustine said.
The church, partnered with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated had one of that organization's most recognizable names as a keynote preacher: Bishop William Barber of the Greenleaf Christian Church.
Before addressing the congregation, he told ABC11: "Ruth Bader Ginsberg, quoting Justice Brandeis used to say, "an inert people is the greatest threat to a democracy." People who just sit there and let it happen. Well, we're not sitting here anymore. And for God's sake, we cannot stay here."
Barber cited health care, voting rights, livable wages and related civic ideas at risk during the current election cycle.
That message was echoed by Congressman G.K. Butterfield: "My message to you is that we must vote like we've never voted before. We must vote 100% in this election and leave a legacy for future generations."
Josh Stein, the Democrat who is North Carolina's Attorney General said from the pulpit: "If we march on November 3, the walls will come tumbling down. We will live in a revitalized North Carolina and a restored America."
"Notwithstanding the very deliberate attempts to set us back, America is still a wonderful country and America is still our country," said Augustine. "So we all should be participating in the democratic process that is America."
The word, now spreading online and through landlines: get souls to the polls using absentee ballots, as early voters or on Election Day.