United you stand, divided you fall

Published 12:16 pm Tuesday, February 10, 2009

If Gates County is to follow Washington County’s lead in preventing the United States Navy from building an Outlying Landing Field, it will take the efforts of all Gates citizens.

That effort took a giant step forward on Feb. 7.

During a meeting held at the historically black Stoney Branch Missionary Baptist Church, people of both major races came together under one roof for one cause.

As noted by Stoney Branch Pastor Bryan Johnson, it marked the first time in the history of his church, one founded nearly 150 years ago by freed slaves, where a “salt and pepper” congregation was present.

It appears from the mixture of races present at Saturday’s meeting, citizens of Gates County fully understand that the possibility of an OLF coming to their rural county affects everyone…not just the blacks; not just the whites.

If Gates County is successful in turning away the Navy, a combined effort is necessary. All races, all religions, all genders must stand shoulder to shoulder in this fight. United you stand…divided you fall.

The interaction at the meeting and the dialogue shared was very encouraging, particularly from Roper Mayor Bunny Sanders. This African-America female, in office since 1997, rallied her tiny Washington County community against the powerful US Navy. She was able to steer powerful state and federal politicians, white and black, to her side of the issue and the rest, as they say, is history.

If Gates County will steal a page from Sanders’ successful game plan, they too will keep the Navy at bay. But it will take work and a continuation of the unity between the races as noted at Saturday’s meeting to make it happen.

– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald