Religious Leaders Support the "HOPE for Africa Act" (H.R. 772)

February 25, 1999
(click here to see list of signatories)

Dear Representative,

We are a group of religious leaders who share with other leaders, scholars and activists, grave concerns about the proposed "Africa Growth and Opportunity Act" (H.R. 434).

We support an alternative legislative proposal, the "HOPE for Africa Act" (HOPE meaning Human Rights, Opportunity, Partnership and Empowerment) being introduced by Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. This bill has been developed over the past four months with colleagues and other social activists, human rights and community groups in Africa and the United States.

Unfortunately, the proposed "Africa Growth and Opportunity Act" (H.R. 434), nearly identical to the "Africa Growth and Opportunity Act" from the last Congress which we opposed, has been put on a fast track through Congress. We view this controversial bill, which was accurately dubbed the "African Re-colonization Act" last year, as contrary to the interests of the majority of African people. We would consider a rush to pass such a bill as an added injury, given its sponsors refusal to address the concerns of its prominent critics, such as Rev. Leon Sullivan (author of the Sullivan principles), TransAfrica President Randall Robinson, Professor Ron Walters, President Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Rev. William Campbell, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice.

Over the course of the last Congress, African American leaders and organizations concerned about Africa studied the provisions of and concepts underlying the proposed legislation, and discussed these with a wide ranging diversity of interested groups and persons. Growing understanding brought growing opposition until the corporate bill proved so controversial that it stalled in the U.S. Senate.

Analysis of the bill reveals that although it is wrapped in rhetoric about helping Africa, this corporate bill is designed to secure U.S. business interests, often at the expense of the interests and needs of the majority of African people and at the expense of African nations' sovereignty and self-determination. It has thus been rightly designated as a corporate bill rather than a bill for economic development and fair trade.

Given our opposition to this approach and our strong desire for mutually beneficial U.S.-Africa policy, African colleagues participated in developing a proposal aimed at promoting equitable, sustainable, sovereign African development. The key elements of "The HOPE for Africa Act" are the African priorities of debt relief, self-determination of economic and social policies best suited to meeting the needs of African people, including strengthening and diversifying Africa?s economic production capacity (for instance in processing of African natural resources and manufacturing), and fair trade in sectors (unlike textiles and apparel) promising a long term opportunity for African economic development.

We urge you to support the forward-looking "HOPE for Africa Act" that would meet the needs and interests of the people of both Africa and the United States.


Rev. Dr. Benny D. Warner, United Methodist Church, Camden, Arkansas

Rev. Amos Brown, Third Baptist Church, San Francisco, California

Rev. William Monroe Campbell, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), Los Angeles, California

Rev. Ronald Wright, Senior Pastor Emmanuel Church, Los Angeles, California

Rev. William Smart, Phillips Temple CME Church, Los Angeles, California

Rev. Leonard Jackson, First African Methodist Church, Los Angeles, California

Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer, Faith Central, Los Angels, California

Rev. M. Andrew Robinson-Gaither, Faith United Methodist Church, Los Angeles, California

Rev. Richard (Meri Ka Ra) Byrd, Senior Minister Unity Center of African Spirituality,? President of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches (LAM), California.

Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith Senior, Senior Pastor Allen Temple Baptist Church, Oakland, California

Rev. Dr. A.D. Iverson, Pastor of Paradise Baptist Church of Los Angeles, California

Pastor Leroy Brown, Wesley United Methodist Church, Los Angeles, California

Pastor William Brent, Evening Star Baptist Church, Los Angeles, California

Rev. Paul G. Tellstrom, Mt. Hollywood Congregational Church, UCC, Los Angeles, California

Rev. E. Winford Bell, Mount Olive Second Missionary Baptist Church, Los Angeles, California

Rev. Al Cooke, Fort Mission Fruit of the Holy Spirit Church, Los Angeles, California

Pastor Wellton Pleasant, South LA Baptist Church, Los Angeles, California

Pastor Maris L. Davis Sr., New Bethel Baptist Church, Venice, California

Pastor Robert Arline, Bethesda Church, Los Angeles, California

Rev. Joseph Curtis, United Gospel Outreach, Los Angeles, California

Rev. Eugene Williams, Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches, Los Angeles, California

Pastor Larry D. Morris, Mount Gilead Baptist Church, Los Angeles, California

Rev. Xavier T. Carter, Revived Faith Community Baptist Church, Los Angeles California

Dr. Roy S. Petitt, Miracle Center Apostolic Church, Los Angeles, California

Seba Chimbuko Tembo, Temple of Kawaida, Los Angeles, California

Seba Tulibu Jadi, Temple of Kawaida, Los Angeles, California

Luther Jackson Chairperson, Monterey County Interfaith Council for Social and Economic Justice (organization listed for identification purposes only), San Jose, California

Pastor Benjamin Reynolds, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Rev. Arthur T. Jones, Senior Pastor Bible-Based Fellowship Church, Tampa, Florida

Pastor Rudolph McKissick Jr., Bethel Baptist Institutional Church, Jacksonville, Florida

Pastor Rudolph McKissick Sr., Bethel Baptist Institutional Church, Jacksonville, Florida

Rev. Dr. Walter Kimbrough, Cascade United Methodist, Atlanta, Georgia

Ndugu G.B. T?Ofori-Atta, Director, ITC Religious Heritage of the Africa World, Atlanta, Georgia

Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., Senior Pastor Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, Illinois

Father Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina, Chicago, Illinois

Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, United Methodist Church, Chicago, Illinois

Bishop Woodie W. White, United Methodist Church, Indiana Area, Indianapolis, Indiana

Bishop Charles Wesley Jordan, United Methodist Church, Iowa Area

Dr. Ben Poage, Associate Minister Kentucky Appalachian Ministry, Richmond, Kentucky

Rev. Dr. Curtis A. Jones, Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, Maryland

Rev. Dr. Vashti McKenzie, Payne Memorial AME Church, Baltimore, Maryland

Rev. Douglas B. Hunt, Washington and UN Representative United Church of Christ Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility, Wheaton, Maryland

Rev. Wendell Anthony, Fellowship Chapel, Detroit, Michigan

Bishop Alfred L. Norris, United Methodist Church Northwest Texas/New Mexico Episcopal Area, Albuquerque, NM

Bishop Ernest S. Lyght, United Methodist Church, White Plains, New York

Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition, New York, New York (organization listed for identification purposes only)

Rev. Dr. Jerry L. Cannon, Pastor, C. N. Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church,? Charlotte, North Carolina

Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson, United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, Cleveland, OH

Rev. Monte Norwood, Imani UCC, Cleveland Area, Ohio

Rev. Lewis Tait, Pastor Harambee UCC, Pennsylvania

Dr. Lyle Weible, Conference Minister, Penn Central United Church of Christ,? Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Rev. Frederick D. Haynes, III, Senior Pastor Friendship-West Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas

Rev. Dr. John Kinney, Virginia Union University, Richmond, Virginia

Bishop Felton Edwin May, The United Methodist Church, Washington DC

General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church

National Black Presbyterian Caucus

8th Day Center for Justice


Africa Faith and Justice Network

United Church of Christ Network for Environmental and Economic Policy

Sisters of the Holy Cross

Washington Office for Faith in Action, Unitarian Universalist Association of ??? Congregations, Washington DC