Race relations event highlights progress

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - As the city marks the anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, an historic church took stock of where the area stands in terms of race relations.  The Hutchinson Missionary Baptist Church hosted its annual Race Relations Sunday during its morning service.

Hutchinson Missionary Baptist Church Pastor G.W.C. Richardson and former Frazer United Methodist Church Pastor John Ed Mathison forged a friendship years ago - one built on faith and fellowship.

'The time was just right to get some things started," said Rev. Richardson.  "Like the bus boycott, the time was just right.  Like Dr. Martin Luther King, the timing was right."

But at a different time in Montgomery's history, a friendship like this one may not have been possible.

"It was not certainly the visibility with those kinds of friendships, and had there been, we might have made more progress, more quickly," Mathison said.

For the fifth year, Richardson invited Mathison to speak at the church's Race Relations Sunday.

Other city and county officials like Probate Judge Reese McKinney spoke at the event.

"We're progressing," Judge McKinney said.  "The only thing we have to look forward for is to have more young people.  Race relations are a very important topic to be discussed and we need more young people involved at this time."

Mayor Todd Strange cited a poll that shows a majority of people in Montgomery think race relations have improved in this area, but he says there's still more work that needs to be done."

"By being invited to come today, to be a part of this, to speak about the things we need to work on, to you know, not hide it under a rock," the mayor said.

It's an effort the reverends say starts not with grand statements or government legislation, but with one- on-one relationships.

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