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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Keeping the Heat On

Sometimes when organizing, a few small actions can be useful to let people know that our efforts are not going to die out and just go away. Today I was part of one of those kinds of small actions as part of the 10% Is Enough campaign. The two banks that we are focusing on most in North Carolina are Bank of America and Wachovia/Wells Fargo.

In meetings with Wachovia executives so far, we have made our case and carried on some helpful conversations. However, they remain fairly intent on ignoring the primary issue we are bringing to them: usury. We are insisting that there comes a point when interest rates are too high and therefore predatory. There is a form of lending practice that becomes debt-sharecropping, dragging people into a permanent debtor status.

I sent the following report to the folks in Durham who are working on economic issues as part of Durham CAN.

Hey, folks,

Today members of the Economy Action Team handed out information about the 10% Is Enough campaign along the sidewalks outside the Wachovia Bank branch at the corner of Ninth Street and Main Street.

Because of the cold weather, not many people were out walking. Most of the information was handed to people leaving the bank parking lot when they would roll down their windows to briefly talk with us. There were a few longer conversations with people walking down the sidewalk. Dan Rhodes and Denise Rowson even managed to get some people to fill out the petition cards and give them back to turn in. Jennifer Suggs did a great job of getting people to stop and converse with her.

We can discuss the details and evaluate the action at a later time. For now, we are glad to have given out information to probably a hundred or more people in a way that brought attention to our ongoing efforts to hold banks accountable to their communities.

Watch for news concerning a meeting with the City Manager concerning stimulus funds. In January we will support the Clergy Caucus and Strategy Team in next steps to build momentum in the 10% Is Enough Campaign. Kohar and I attended a strategy and planning meeting in Baltimore earlier this week, and our progress with the large banks shows we have their attention. Our next moves will have to make them see that we are not merely a minor annoyance, a passing fad, or a clanging cymbal.

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