By Rev. David Denham, SW Virginia Poor People’s Campaign
I wear three hats in Roanoke: minister; organizer for RepresentUs, local and statewide; lead person for the SW Virginia Poor People’s Campaign.
Represent.us is about big money influence in our politics. In 2015, the Roanoke City Council passed an AntiCorruption Resolution to which all current council members have committed. It has been named that the plot of land in question on Henry St would be sold by Roanoke City to the Higher Education Center for $1. Also, reported is that the Higher Education Center would receive via Governor Northam $500,000 from his PAC that includes significant dollars from Dominion. Locally, the trauma of urban renewal remains.
On Sunday, one Gainsboro citizen shared with me that he stills experiences PTSD from that environmental devastation that has kept citizens from seeing their history—their schools, churches, homes, businesses, and unable to visit a family grave-opportunities that most of us still have. So, first the big money influence here is unsettling and not a suitable basis to proceed.
Secondly, the Poor People’s Campaign, a National Call for a Moral Revival, is a reminder that all of decisions, publicly and privately, are called by our Creator to be moral. As you prepare for your vote on Tuesday, will you ask yourself “does my vote meet the moral test.”
As a minister, I would submit that the moral test should be The Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I am clear what my decision would be, if I were in your seat. My “no”, though, would not be my final response here. I would submit that to carry out the Golden Rule would be to set up a plan for comprehensive economic redevelopment of Gainsboro, planned by Roanoke City leaders and Gainsboro citizens.
I am asking that you reject Governor Northam’s corrupt money, do the moral path to vote “no” to this Henry St land deal, and act proactively to reestablish a vibrant Gainsboro community.