My Two Minute Speech at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Roanoke


    On Easter Sunday, my wife April and I went to Easter services at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Roanoke. This was our second visit to an African-American church during the campaign, and both experiences have been rich.

    I’d spoken earlier with Reverend Dwight Steele, who’d told me that he’d give me two minutes to introduce myself, as a candidate for Congress, to the congregation. Last night, during a waking spell, I composed my remarks in my mind, and when I was called up to the pulpit, I delivered what follows here below. (I wrote down afterwards what I’d said.)  Here it is.

    “My name is Andy Schmookler, and I am the Democratic nominee for Congress in this District where we live.

    I make you two promises.

    “First, that I will speak the truth to you, as I understand it. I make this promise because a force has arisen in our politics that want the lie to defeat the truth, and it is damaging our nation and injuring us, the American people.

    “I promise also that I will treat the well-being of every American –including the vulnerable, and those for whom life is a struggle– as being just as important as that of the richest and most powerful. I make this promise because there has arisen in our political system a force that’s seeking to use the power of the state to enable the few to exploit the many, to take from us that birthright described by Abraham Lincoln as a government that is “for the people and by the people.”

    “I know you’ve heard promises from politicians before. But I am not a politician. And as I approach my 66th birthday, I can say: I have never broken a promise. And I will not break these.

    “I’ve never run for political office before, but I am running now because I have been called to undertake the quest. I have been called to fight against the destructive force that is hurting America. And I feel called to speak out for those qualities of righteousness –justice and compassion and honesty– we need to fortify if we are to leave to our children and grandchildren a nation worthy of America’s ideals.”

    Andy Schmookler is running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District of Virginia, challenging the incumbent Congressman, Bob Goodlatte.  An award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, Andy moved with his family to Shenandoah County in 1992.  He is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.  


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