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Wake Up Macon

 

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Inauguration Of Macon’s New Mayor Held At Macon City Auditorium

 

 

 

 

By Amanda Smith

 

The inauguration of Robert Reichert, Macon, Georgia’s 41st mayor, was held on December 11, 2007 at the Macon City Auditorium.  Mr. Jim Crisp emceed the event, which began with the Presentation of the Colors by the combined Color Guard of the Macon Police Department and the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department.

 

Jimmy Mills, Jr. and his talented choral group, the Southwest Philharmonic Society performed The Star Spangled Banner and the Rev. Jacob Parker of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Macon gave the invocation.  After Reichert took the Oath of Office, he gave his Inaugural Address and the Rev. Marcus Tripp gave the benediction.

 

Find below Mayor Reichert’s inaugural address in its entirety.

 

Mayor Ellis, Madam President, Members of Council, Members of the Judiciary, Distinguished Guests, and Ladies and Gentlemen:  Well, can you believe it?  Mayor Reichert.  I find it hard to believe, and I know many others who are also scratching their heads and saying they can’t believe it either.  Maybe they are friends who knew me in high school when I had my ’55 Chevy hot rod; maybe they were my teachers or college professors who had to give me failing grades; but that was then and this is now.  So, here’s what I want to say to you tonight; since we are here and this is now, let’s

 

MOVE ON, MOVE IN, MOVE UP, MACON!

 

Before I begin, I must take a point of personal privilege to thank those people who are responsible for my presence here tonight.  First, I want to thank my family: my wife, Dele, my daughter, Bowen, and my son, Thomas, for sharing me with the community.  My time in service to the community has taken away from my time with them, or at least, modified it.  We used to take the children on family outings by going door-to-door campaigning!

 

Also, my parents and my brothers and sister-in-law have been so supportive and have inspired me by their example of service above self.  I want to thank my wife’s parents, her brothers and sister and their families for their continuing interest and commitment to this effort.  As my wife’s mother, Helen Dunwody, would say, “If your mother-in-law is for you, who can be against you?”

 

Next, I need to say thank you to all the people at the law firm of Anderson, Walker, & reichert.  Without their initial approval and support of this campaign, I would not have started this journey.  My leave of absence from the firm while I serve as Mayor will have a direct financial impact on them, yet they have all been willing to see me serve.  They are truly committed to this community and to excellence in their work.  If you need a good law firm, go to Anderson, Walker & Reichert.

 

Finally, I need to say thank you to all the campaign workers and supporters who have raised money, designed leaflets, hosted parties, addressed postcards, stuffed envelopes, gone door-to-door, waved at intersections, and helped craft and spread the message of this campaign that “Together We Can”.  Without your help, we would not have been successful in pulling this community together.  Thank you, each and every one of you, for making this happen.  “Together, We Can” has become a reality, and now, “Together We Will”.

 

SO, LET’S MOVE ON, MOVE IN, MOVE UP, MACON!

 

This theme occurred to me after I attended revival services at St. Paul AME Church to hear Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright.  He had two great messages: the first night he spoke about “In a time of change in leadership, location, and lifestyle, God will be with you”; the second night’s message was that we need to “Learn from the past, Live in the present, and Look to the Future”, and again, God will be with you.  His messages seemed to be directed at me, and they have given me the courage to share with you some of my innermost thoughts and recent revelations.

 

I am not a preacher, but I am a committed Christian.  I believe strongly in the Methodist doctrine that God’s grace is preeminent, sanctifying, and perfecting.  It’s another way of expressing Jesse Jackson’s maxim that I am a work in progress and “God is not through with me yet.”  But as I pondered the significance of our primary election victory, I was led to a passage of Scripture that I want to share with you tonight.  I almost shared it on the night of our general election victory, but I felt the time wasn’t right.  Now, I believe it is.

 

From the book of Nehemiah, and a time when the people of Israel were returning from captivity in Babylon to their city of Jerusalem, which lay in ruins with its walls torn down and city gates destroyed, Chapter 2, verses 11-18:

 

So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days.  Then I arose in the night, and I and a few good men with me. And I told no one what God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem.  I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire.  Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass.  Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate and so returned.  And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work.

 

Then, I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned.  Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.”  And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the King had spoken to me.  And they said, “Let us rise up and build.”  So they strengthened their hands for the good work.

 

To me, the parallels to our current situation here in Macon are startling; oh, not literally, perhaps but figuratively for sure.  For example, we don’t have city walls that need to be rebuilt, but we do have mental walls of racism and classism that need to be torn down; we don’t have city gates that have been destroyed by fire, but we do have neighborhoods that are desolated and abandoned leaving damage that is, in some ways, worse than fire.  We don’t have city gates that need to be closed, but we do have imaginary lines on the ground we call City Limits that separate us and keep us from being more open-minded.  More to the point of tonight’s message however is the admonition by Nehemiah to the people, that we need to come together and restore our community and the people’s response.  Upon hearing the call, they said, “Let us rise up and build”, and they strengthened their hands for the good work.

 

It is my fervent hope and prayer that YOU will rise to this occasion and meet the challenges we face as a community.  Let’s learn from the past, live in the present, and look to the future.  However, if all we do is change the leadership, we will not accomplish anything; the good people need to step forward and put their shoulder to the wheel to get us moving ahead as a community again.

 

LET’S MOVE ON, MOVE IN, MOVE UP, MACON!

 

Let’s Move On!  One of the main things that is holding us back is the simmering stew of race relations.  Like a pot of beef stew on the back burner of the stove in the kitchen, the smell permeates our hose and subtly, but constantly, reminds us that something is cooking, and we can’t forget it.  The ingredients in this stew are many, and the presence of some had a violent history.  Our stew of race relations is rooted in slavery, and some demand an apology for that before we can reconcile and move on.  In my mind, it’s not quite accurate or meaningful to apologize for something that you personally did not do, but I do believe it is right to issue a statement of remorse and regret for this catastrophic chapter in our nation’s history.  Slavery is a stain on our nation’s fabric that cannot be bleached out or covered up.  I do sincerely regret that it happened.

 

More to the point for me, personally, however, is the need for me to apologize for what I did do, or failed to do.  I grew up in the 1960’, and I was a witness to the civil rights struggle.  I didn’t personally participate in opposing the civil rights movement back then, but I sat on the sidelines and did nothing; for years.  I am haunted now by my failure to speak up in support of the efforts of those who were trying not only to end segregation, but to promote integregation.  Martin Luther King described it as “the appalling silence of the good people” and for that, I stand guilty as charged.  And I have remained silent for too long.  For that, I can truly say that I am sorry, and I ask for your forgiveness.

 

However, I would also say, like Jeremiah Wright, “That was then and this is now!  Martin Luther King said that desegregation takes only a change of the law; integregation takes a change of the heart.  My heart is changed, and I hope to inspire and lead others in this community to demonstrate their change of heart.  Actions speak louder than words, so even if we can’t find the appropriate opportunity to verbally express our feelings, we can act them out.  As a community, we all need to actively participate in the celebration of Martin Luther King Day; we need to take a lead role in the completion and operation of the Harriet Tubman Museum; we need to join the small groups conversation on race sponsored by the Center For Racial Understanding; and we need to aggressively pursue all appropriate opportunities to get to know our neighbors, not move away from them, and from the city.

 

LET’S MOVE ON, MOVE IN, MOVE UP, MACON!

 

Let’s Move In!  Many in-ton neighborhoods are in need of a few families, and we need to create an atmosphere that will attract them.  That will require a quality of life and standard of living that is second to none.  We can make that happen if we move into the City and work together for the common good.  The elimination of a sub-standard house has a positive effect on the entire neighborhood; creating safe streets adds value; revitalization of the downtown area adds charm; enhancing public parks and recreational facilities adds appeal; and enhancing public transportation makes the entire community more attractive.  This creates additional value for everyone.  This is not a new idea for Macon.

 

Imagine the civic-mindedness that must have accompanied the initial layout of the new downtown area for Macon in 1823, with wide boulevards and center median parks, or construction of the City Auditorium, the Terminal Station, or the Coliseum.  Look around you; facilities like these have caused Macon to prosper and grow and attract private colleges, businesses, regional care facilities, and provide support for fine arts programs and performances.  We are all better off because of these developments.  It gives us an identity and a purpose that we should all support.

 

LET’S MOVE ON, MOVE IN, MOVE UP, MACON!

 

Finally, let’s Move Up.  Macon should move up on the chart of livable communities and be rated as one of the best places to live in America.  We can do this if we work together, but it will cause us to re-examine our expectations of our city.  What is it that you want to see your city become?  If all you want from your city is essential government services to protect your investment and personal property, I think you need to think again.  One thing is certain; we can’t maintain a status quo.  If you live in Macon, you obviously have a vested interest, but if you live outside the city limits of Macon and think you will not be adversely affected by negative developments in Macon, you are wrong.  We are all in this community together.

 

If our community is to be successful, our city should have not only an identity, but also a mission to provide opportunities, economic, cultural and social, not otherwise available.  That, in turn, will produce more optimistic and responsible citizens and a better quality of life for us all.  In that regard, Macon is like great lady who has nurtured generations of citizens and provided a safe, healthy, and productive environment in which to live.  This great lady has stumbled and been pushed down, and it is up to us to come to her aid and help her up.  If we all work together, we will lift Macon to a new level, build a more attractive city, and make this community one of the best in the country.  If we are to succeed, we must

 

MOVE ON, MOVE IN, MOVE UP, MACON!

 

So tonight, here and now, let’s begin anew and recall the closing words from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address:

 

“With a good conscience our only sure reward,

With history the final judge of our deeds,

Let us go forth to lead the land we love,

Asking His blessing and His help,

But knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

 

Thank you.

 

You are Visitor #  Hit Counter   Updated Wednesday April 05, 2006 12:40:42

 

 

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