D.C .Mayor Adrian M. Fenty campaigned in Northeast Washington Thursday night where a New York City preacher and former congressman blasted the Washington Teachers' Union and chastised residents for not standing by Fenty, who he said has been forced to make tough decisions.
Rev. Floyd Flake, who spent a decade in congress before returning to his 25,000 member congregation in Queens in the late 1990s, headlined a Fenty rally at the Holy Comforter Missionary Baptist Church.
"Somebody has to step up," said Flake, adding that "one of the biggest barriers" to education reform is the agenda of the union. "If it were their children, they would want them to have the best education."
He spoke to the audience of about 100 of the virtues of residents and officials charting their own future, especially as it relates to gentrification, a concern among some D.C. residents who fear they might be priced out of the city.
"I support this mayor because I believe in this moment in history he is the only one that gives you some hope of being able to have a community that would have some hope, that would look like us, still living here in the next generation," Flake said. "...He is the one who has the foresight to see the future, rather than holding on to the past."
Northwest resident Delores Freeman said city residents don't give Fenty enough credit. She and several other Northwest residents attended the rally wearing Fenty T-shirts.
A row of Northwest residents wearing Fenty T-shirts.
"He has done a lot for the city and people should give him the credit that he deserves," said Freeman, a retired federal worker.
Rev. Steve Young, the church's pastor, read from a pamphlet listing seven of Fenty's accomplishments -- including recreation centers and new libraries. "Seven is a sign of completion," Young said.
Fenty spoke at the event and highlighted some of his administration's projects in Northeast Washington, including the construction of a new H.D. Woodson High School and the opening of the new Deanwood Public Library and Recreation Center.
"Professionally, what drives me is to make sure that our city, the one we all live on, is a beacon of excellence where people from around the country can say that that is our nation's capital, where they get things done," Fenty said.
The event was billed as a faith rally for Fenty, and four other preachers attended. One preacher, Rev. Michael Bell, came and left with Flake and two ministers sat in the audience, but did not speak.
Flake, who serves on the board of a New York charter school, highlighted the improvement in city's education system. And he said too much has been made of the firing of some D.C. teachers.
"The best change agent for Washington D.C. sits in this room," he said, referring to Fenty.
-- Hamil R. Harris