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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Chapter 5 - Stop the Violence, Start the Healing

Judy Cumbee Collins wrote a song back in the 90’s inspired by her travels with the Journey of Hope called Stop the Violence, Start the Healing.  She sings a beautiful rendition with Grover Sheffield on her “Bringing Abolition Day” album in 1996.  This is Judy at her best.  I can hear her voice as I read these words.


Chorus:
We want to help stop the violence, hmmm, start the healing.
No more killing in my name, in my name. (2x)
1)    It’s a wicked, wicked game we play
If we agree to say
“An eye for an eye”
That is old, old, way
Well, an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.
Can’t help anybody to be kind
Stop the violence, start the healing in my name.  CHORUS
2)    In  fury they brought the woman that day
But unto them He did say
“You without sin, cast that first stone”
Don’t you know that love and forgiveness is the way.
To roll, roll those stones away. 


Stop the violence, start the healing in my name. CHORUS
When Judy heard I was coming with the Journey of Hope to Alabama she contacted me.  She asked if I would have any break time in my schedule where I could come to Lanett, in southeast Alabama, for a day or so.
It had been years since I’d seen Judy.  She was really the only person I knew in Alabama.  It worked out with my schedule and I was able to spend 24 hours with her.  We did three events, two before we even got to Judy and Jim’s house.  I spoke at 11:30AM at Auburn Unitarian Universalist Fellowship for a brown bag lunch talk, 2:00 PM at Roanoke Nazarene Church, and that night at the Chambers County Library.  
We arrived a little early for the Nazarene Church event, so Judy decided to pay a visit to the local newspaper.  She had contacted them earlier with a phone call and thought a person visit might even work better for her request that they send a reporter.  She was able to talk with the editor.
Judy’s persistence paid off.  Penny L. Pool, staff writer for Randolph Leader came to the talk.  She listened to the entire presentation and then asked some good questions.   She was taking notes the entire time during my 40-minute presentation, so I gave her a copy of my book in case she needed to check any facts for her story.  I also gave one to the Nazarene Pastor for his daughter.  
Penny wrote a full-page article story on her last minute assignment:

Author Visits With Message of Forgiveness (click to read full article)

It was the most informative article of the 2012 Alabama Journey of Hope, truly capturing the essence of my mission.  Thank you Penny L. Pool, and the Randolph Leader.
I also got to meet with Esther Brown on my day with Judy.  It was such a blessing to meet Esther and get to know her a little bit.  I was fascinated with her work with the men on Alabama’s death row. 
Judy took me back to Shelley’s house in Birmingham the next day.  After a several hour break Shelley drove me to our next event at the Eutaw Event Center (pronounced like "Utah").  A one hour trip turned into a two hour trip when I told Shelley to turn the wrong way when we got off the interstate.  After the talk we drove back to Birmingham, stopping for a trusted meal at Cracker Barrel.
On Friday there was a mass followed by a potluck dinner at Mary’s House.   I met more wonderful people there.  People that try to live according to the Gospels are great people.
I had mentioned to Shelley and Judy how much I would like to meet Senator Hank Sanders.  Judy told me he would be at a conference for the Alabama New South Coalition in Montgomery on my last Saturday in Alabama.  As luck would have it, Saturday was a free day.  Judy talked to Shelley and they came up with the idea that maybe I could ride with Scott Douglas, a local activist from Birmingham, to Montgomery Saturday morning.   I was able to ride with Scott and found out he had been asked to give the keynote speech when it turned out Brian Stephenson could not attend the conference. 
Brian is arguably God’s greatest gift to the State of Alabama.  He is a fantastic speaker.  Poor Scott would have to fill his shoes.  I needed to be in Montgomery for Sunday and Monday I was happy to go a day early to meet Senator Sanders.
I was able to talk with the Senator before the conference started.  I thanked him for his stand for abolition and for his great kickoff of the Alabama Journey of Hope.
Judy Collins is the vice chair of the ANSC and arraigned for me to speak for 5-7 minutes at the opening of the afternoon plenary session.
Scott gave a great keynote address, and I was able to talk with Senator Sanders once again after the day’s events.  Again I was able to thank him for his courage and commitment to introduce the abolition bill.  I also offered the support of the Journey of Hope.
Judy took a picture when I presented him with a copy of my first book, "Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing."