By Chinta Strausberg, Gary Crusader
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson on Saturday presented Bishop Henry Williamson a Gary Legends award for his contributions to the civil rights movement, including his “One Church, One School” program that has become a national model.
Gary Legends is an honor presented to current or former residents of Gary, who have made significant contributions to the community.
“Bishop Williamson is someone who has started a phenomenal program, ‘One Church, One School’ which has more than 250 partnerships in 25 states and who is a native of our community,” said the mayor.
“It’s always good to see people do well who are from your community but the most important thing is that he didn’t forget and he came back,” Mayor Freeman-Wilson told this reporter.
The mayor and Rev. Jesse Jackson honored Bishop Williamson, a Gary native son, for being the former national president of Operation PUSH and current board member, and for being pastor of the Christian Methodist Episcopal (C.M.E.) Church assigned to the First Episcopal District, overseeing all C.M.E. churches in Tennessee and Arkansas, a total of 180 churches.
But to Freeman-Wilson the most important thing about Bishop Williamson is that he is “a husband, father, grandfather and a man for all seasons.”
During the live PUSH broadcast, Bishop Williamson honored his wife, Doris, whom he married 43-years ago. He also praised Jackson for his 50-years in the civil rights movement, and Rev. Jesse Douglas who worked close to Dr. Martin Luther King. Douglas was never beaten by racists he says, because they thought he was a sympathetic white man. Douglas is Black.
Williamson also gave some advice on Father’s Day for men to “be the pastor to your family…read the Word and pray over your children…teach them the difference between right and wrong…protect your children…discipline them. Don’t try to be popular.”
“In Gary, Indiana, my mother said ‘you will do your homework to my satisfaction’ and when I told her the teacher would accept this, my mother said, ‘yeah, but I won’t.’ Now I can look back…how I got over… and appreciate her teaching me responsibility and to obey authority.” Williamson said our children need to know their history did not start with slavery.
He added that parents need to talk to their sons about driving while Black, and that many have lost their lives running away from the police. The way to change public policy, he said, is to teach about voter education, voter registration, voter mobilization.
“Get ready to put somebody out of office in 2018 … in 2020. Get ready to put in a new governor, a new mayor who won’t close 50 schools but open 50 more schools in Chicago,” urged Williamson. He also said domestic violence should end, and to lift up your family.
During a reception for William- son, Jackson spoke about the disparity in the amount of property taxes between Black and white homeowners and said it is time to fight back.