Spencer Leak, Sr.’s Nehemiah Project Urges churches to take back communities
By Chinta Strausberg
More than 6,000 people attended the Nehemiah Project—an anti-violence crime summit held at The House of Hope, 752 E. 114th St., hosted by Spencer Leak, Sr. Leak called on the faith community to help rebuild the walls of Chicago—a city he says is a “war zone.”
Just as Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, Leak said it is his goal to rebuild the walls of this city in dealing with crime. Referring to the Nehemiah prayer, Leak said he prayed for forgiveness “for what his forefathers” had done 120 years before he was born.
“They are responsible, he said, for the walls of Jerusalem being torn down,” Leak told a cheering audience. “Nehemiah said forgive my forefathers…forgive me indirectly for what my forefathers have done.
“That’s the Nehemiah prayer which says forgive me for I am just as responsible even though what happened in Jerusalem happened 120 years ago.” Leak said “just like Nehemiah, I declare that the walls of Chicago are coming down. The gates of Chicago are burned, and the people of Chicago are in great distress and reproach because Chicago is a war zone.”
Leak presented the way people—young and old—have adjusted to the lifestyle for fear of being shot. “Our children can’t go to school without looking over their shoulders for gun shots,” Leak bellowed. “Our elderly parents sit on the back porch in the cool of the evening….”
Leak, who said he was tired of burying African American children, asked the attendees to join him “so that we can rebuild the walls of Chicago…. We must take personal responsibility for the condition of the walls in the city of Chicago…. You must take personal responsibility.”
Part of his Nehemiah Project plan is to buy 200,000 bibles to be placed in the Chicago Public Schools.
Leak has joined Rep. Mary Flowers (D-31) who has introduced HB 4666 calling for bibles to be a part of the schools’ curriculum. It remains in the Rules Committee which many say is the “legislative burial ground.” He said if the state won’t pass the bill, he will go to the City Council. “I will never stop lobbying for bibles to be placed in the classrooms,” he vowed.
Most of the homicides in Chicago over the last decade were perpetrated by students. Leak said, “What I have found is the perpetrators and victims were students of the Chicago Public Schools. If the bible had been in the curriculum, if they had the bible taught or discussed in school, we could have saved a lot of lives because the bible is that powerful of a book.”
According to Flowers’ bill, public school courses involving the study of the bible have spread to at least 43 states and at least seven states including Oklahoma, Missouri, Arizona, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Texas.
Flowers’ bill calls for the inclusion of courses in history and literature of the Old and New Testament for students in the third grade through twelfth.
Turning to the audience, Leak said they have a responsibility to go back to their neighborhoods and “take back your blocks.” He called them “the most powerful group in America.”
“I accept you. Will you accept yourself in the family of the righteous, and if you do, we can make Chicago a city where the church bells ring on Sunday, but the school bells ring on Monday. Chicago, the great city that works, the city with the big shoulders, we can rebuild Chicago….”
Leak presented six Humanitarian Awards during the three-hour program including: Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Father Michael L. Pfleger, Police Supertindent Eddie Johnson, Dawn Valenti, Andrew Holmes and Tom Dart whose award was accepted by First Deputy Chief Marlon Parks.