Evanston Own It, a group of Evanston's African American clergy leaders, held a Father’s Day march yesterday that began at First Church of God Christian Life Center and wound its way through Evanston’s 5th ward, stopping to acknowledge several historic Black churches along the route.
Evanston Own It was established in 2015 to encourage residents to claim ownership of their home, block, and community by adhering to the 'Evanston Own It' proclamation: that every resident deserves to live in a safe, caring community and must take ownership of everything that happens throughout the city regardless of where they live.
Led by First Church's Senior Pastor Pastor Monte' L. G. Dillard, Sr., Pastor Kenneth Cherry of Christ Temple Church, and Pastor Zollie Webb of Friendship Baptist Church, the march drew about 150 people. The crowed, with men and boys in suits and ties, gathered outside the church at 2 p.m. for the march, dubbed "Black Excellence Evanston."
"This year Fathers day has a little more oomph on it," said Dillard. "Those of us of African descent, we in our community have been pressed."
A prayer service that preceded the march, entitled How Fathers Fight, was offered by Pastor Monté Dillard to his congregation and streamed on Facebook Live.
The march was open to all, but, said Dillard, the goal was specifically to minister to African American men.
In his sermon to his congregation before the march, Dillard read from the Book of Exodus, telling the story of Moses and how his father, Amram, is hardly mentioned in Moses' story, although Amram, along with his wife, hid Moses to save him from Pharoah's decree that all Hebrew boys would be put to death and whose parenting and faith helped enable Moses to become a courageous leader.
"Who raised a man like Moses, who put that kind of faith in a man who looked Pharaoh in the eye?" Dillard asked.
Moses was only Moses, said Dillard, seeming to allude to current events, "because his daddy, in a crazy set of circumstances, knew how to fight Pharaoh. He knew what to do, he hid [Moses]."
"Amram said, 'Pharoah wants me to obey him, but obeying him would destroy my child. I'm supposed to do what he says to the detriment of my child. That priority is out of order.' You got to prioritize and protect your child's wellbeing," Dillard said.
"I came by here today," Dillard said, "to honor and give some big ups to all of the fathers out there. Thank God for all the Amrams out there who might get looked over and not get the accolades. Keep going man of God because we can see you know how to fight. Stand up, square your shoulders, walk with your head held high, because Moses ain't Moses without his daddy. "
Dillard spoke about how he confronts teachers during parent-teacher conferences.
"My wife will tell you the teachers hate when I come to parent teacher conference. They hate it. But I'm supposed to sit here and allow Pharaoh to determine a system, my child's wellbeing?" he asked. "I'm supposed to just let Pharaoh destroy mine? No bro. We prioritize and protect. That's how we fight. Not in the flesh, but through an investment in our house. The bible is clear about obeying authorities in the land, until they ask you to do something that God opposes."
Since its inception, Evanston Own It's centerpiece has been a rousing annual Evanston Sings gospel concert, led by Pastor Zollie Webb and held in ETHS' auditorium, to raise money for the Mayors Youth Summer Employment Program. Give yourself a treat and watch these videos. Hopefully, next year the concert will be back on track. It's a fantastic time for a worthwhile cause.