Rev. Dr. Eli Burke, VICPP Board Member, speaks about raising the minimum wage



African American Clergy Will Host Prayer Vigil Calling on Legislators to Support
an Equitable Minimum Wage and Honor Historically Underpaid Workers during Black History Month

Wed. Feb. 19, 2020 at 10:45 a.m.
Richmond – Bank St. sidewalk (between 9th  & 10th Streets)

“We’re tired of symbolic actions from legislators during Black History Month,” said
Rev. Dr. Leo Whitaker, Executive Director of the Baptist General Conference of Virginia.
“We need real actions that raise the minimum wage for everyone in Virginia.”

RICHMOND – On Wednesday, February 19, leading African American clergy from around Virginia will gather at a prayer vigil near the Capitol to share their concerns about the recent minimum wage bill passed by Virginia’s Senators. Under their proposed language, the bill would establish a regional minimum wage, exempt college students, and create a blanket “training wage” allowing employers to pay a subminimum wage to new hires during their first 90 days of work.

The pastors are calling on legislators to support a stronger minimum wage bill passed by the House of Delegates HB 395, and express their concerns about Senate bill SB7, that could lock poor African Americans into poverty by its racist and prejudiced regional approach.

The clergy and church leaders point out that raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 or 2025 would raise wages for 43 percent of African American workers in Virginia and one out of every two African American women would see her wages rise.  “It’s time to stop talking about the need to address income inequality and start acting,” says Rev. Dr. Faith Harris, Vice President of the board of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. “If legislators want to celebrate Black history month, they should go back to the drawing board and pass a bill that does not leave black workers behind.” 

Faith leaders including Rev. Dr. Leo Whitaker, Rev. Dr. Elisha Burke, Rev. Dr. Faith Harris, Rev. Dr. Anthony Fludd, Rev. Rodney Hunter, and others will also meet with Senators to ask them to  address the shortcomings of SB7 and pass a bill that will begin to address the economic disparities faced by African Americans in Virginia.

The pastors draw inspiration from the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “There is nothing but a lack of social vision to prevent us from paying an adequate wage to every American whether he [or she] is a hospital worker, laundry worker, maid, or day laborer.”

Pastors will gather for prayer and preaching on Wed., Feb. 19, in Richmond on the Bank St. sidewalk between 9th  & 10th Streets at 10:45 a.m. as legislators pass to enter the Capitol building.

The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy is an active member of the #RaisetheWageVA state-wide coalition of labor unions and community organizations advocating to raise the minimum wage.

“What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t earn enough money to buy a hamburger and a cup of coffee?” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Link to Fact Sheet on Minimum Wage

Roberta Oster

Communications Director
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy

Rev. Elisha Burke
Director of Health, Wellness, and Social Justice
Baptist General Convention of Virginia

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The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy advocates economic, racial, social and environmental justice
in Virginia’s policies and practices through education, prayer, and action.
VICPP is a non-partisan coalition of more than 750 faith communities working for a more just society.