ADL/URBAN LEAGUE PRESENT $100,000 TO HEAD OF
NATIONAL BLACK CHURCHES TO DISTRIBUTE TO ARSON VICTIMS
New York, NY, July 17, 1996...The Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
and the National Urban League today presented a $100,000 check from their
"Rebuild the Churches Fund" to the head of the Congress of National
Black Churches (CNBC) for distribution to congregations victimized by the
recent church burnings. The contributions, along with letters of support
to the congregants, poured in from all over the country as part of the tremendous
response to ads that ran nationally and in local newspapers. The presentation
took place at ADL National Headquarters in New York City.
"As we witnessed the burning churches on our nightly newscasts,"
said David H. Strassler, ADL National Chairman, "we knew we had to
Over the months, ADL urged the Justice Department to investigate the arsons,
lobbied Congress to enact tougher legislation, provided local law enforcement
with expertise on hate groups and worked with communities to increase security
at their institutions, yet "we knew we needed to do more," added
"As far as we are concerned, one black church victimized by racially
motivated arson is too many," said ADL National Director Abraham H.
Foxman. "We believe Americans of all races and religious backgrounds
want to help comfort the victims and support their efforts to rebuild. The
enormous outpouring we have received in response confirms that we are right."
Referring to the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht) in Germany when Nazis
brutalized Jews and smashed their synagogues and shops, the ADL leader said,
"If only someone had run ads on November 9, 1938, perhaps millions
of innocent Holocaust victims would have been saved."
Receiving the check, Reverend H. Michael Lemmons, Executive Director of
CNBC which represents 65,000 churches with a worldwide membership of more
than 19 million, expressed his "sincere appreciation for your contribution"
which "sends the message that we are all affected by the church burnings."
The Reverend explained, "Historically, the African American church
has been more than a place to gather and worship...the church has been the
focal point for everything from human services and civil rights to economic
development...it was the church that was the womb of our community where
great leaders, community activists, artists and orators were born, nurtured
and developed to become experts in their respective disciplines."
In closing, Reverend Lemmons said, "we are strenghtened and encouraged
by your visible and very tangible demonstration of solidarity."
The National Urban League's Senior Vice President Mildred L. Love said,
"This is indeed an opportunity to rebuild the churches -- but also
to bring together different people and reduce the racial divide in America,
understanding that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
From Maine to California, and from Alaska to Florida, thousands responded
to the ads, which ran originally in The New York Times, The Washington Post
and The Atlanta Constitution. Subsequently the ads appeared in newspapers
around the country, including the Black and Jewish media. The smallest donation
was for $1 and the largest was $12,500, with the average contribution being
$50. Among the outpouring of letters were several from a class of 9th graders
who had just finished studying civil rights in the United States. "Nobody
has the right to keep a person from worship," wrote one of the 14-yr.-olds.
"Although you have no place for gathering to worship, you do not need
one. You can praise God anywhere, anytime....I hope for a fast recovery
for you and your church family. When this is all over, we will all be stronger.
We will not let this stop us."
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.