The 11th Annual Interfaith Poverty Conference featured the Reverend Aundreia Alexander as their keynote speaker. Alexander drew inspiration for her words from the life and voice of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. Hamer’s advocacy during the 1964 Democratic National Convention was considered so dangerous that President Lyndon Johnson scheduled a televised press conference to upstage her, only to have that backfire when the news stations decided to cover Hamer’s speech on the evening news. Alexander encouraged people to listen to Hamer’s full testimony here.

Fannie Lou Hamer

Alexander is not from Rhode Island, but she has heard of us. For instance, she knows about the controversy in Warwick due to the systemic lunch shaming there, which is national news. She advised those in attendance to go to Warwick and let City officials know that this is not acceptable.

Alexander is extremely quotable as well. “When you get to the least common denominator today, it means you’re not getting a whole lot accomplished,” said Alexander on compromises made when crafting legislation.

She noted that members of affected communities need to be empowered and allied with when tackling issues of poverty and justice, because they know better than anyone what they want and need. When people enter these battles, they don’t always serve affected communities well. “Sometimes those of us in privileged positions are more likely to compromise and settle for less,” cautioned Alexander.

Alexander is the Associate General Secretary for Joint Action and Advocacy for Justice and Peace at the National Council of Churches. You can watch her full keynote speech below:

Reverend Donnie Anderson, Executive Minister of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches introduced Alexander.

Nondas Hurst Voll, Chair of the Conference Committee, opened the day.

Victoria Strang, Director and Lead Organizer of the Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty offered a few words.

Abdelnasser Hussein, the Head of the Islamic School of Rhode Island, presented the invocation.

Judy Seplowin of Temple Beth-El and David Perolman of Temple Habonim, sang.

Immediately after Aundreia Anderson’s keynote, Rabbi Jeffrey Goldwasser of Temple Sinai provided a call to action.

11th Annual Interfaith Poverty Conference

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