• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

‘Silence is not an option’

More than 100 people attended the Friday Nights Under the Lights rally at Community Stadium last Friday, June 19, (aka Juneteenth) that featured a wide variety of speakers discussing COVID-19, racism and the power of prayer. The event was also carried live on several Facebook pages and recorded for later posting. The rally was the brainchild of Chantel Bingham, the executive director of the Versailles Housing Authority. Among the other speakers – 20 in all – were several area pastors (black and white), community leaders and Judge-Executive James Kay, Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift and Versailles City Councilmember Mike Coleman. Young volunteers stood at the entrance to the field, making sure attendees wore protective masks and offering masks to people who didn’t have them. Throughout the two-hour event, most continued to wear masks, even when they were more than six feet from others. Andrea “Bug” Brown, the area representative for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, read verses in Hebrew that speak of the importance of such gatherings: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” Bingham was introduced by her husband, Vince, who joked that when she approached him to say something was moving in her spirit, he did what any attentive husband would do while watching a favorite television program – he grabbed the remote and turned up the volume. Turning serious, he explained how she insisted that God was asking her to do something, and he turned the TV off and listened. The conversation took place in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. (Left unsaid was the fact that the conversation occurred before several instances of police brutality and racism that sparked nationwide protests.) Bingham thanked her “inspirational” husband for his “comedic introduction.” She said the rally was a vision God gave her and that while some of her comments would cause some to squirm a bit, they shouldn’t worry about betraying their feelings, as they were wearing masks. Those anecdotes came later. Bingham first spoke of the three P’s of prayer – provision (“God will supply all of our needs”), protection (“God will protect us from dangers seen and unseen”) and perseverance (“No matter how difficult it seems right now, God will see us through this”). “This virus has connected us all together, in many ways, just like God. You can’t see this virus, but you know it’s there and you can catch it. You can’t see God, but you know He’s there, and if your heart’s right, you can catch the Holy Ghost,” she said. Bingham said wearing masks was a way to show respect for one another and protect each other from the virus. “When Gov. Beshear asked people to wear masks, they showed up at the capitol toting guns,” she said. “It’s for your own good, so thank you for wearing your mask tonight.” Bingham spoke of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others at the hands of police and the way the Black Lives Matter movement helped bring attention to larger, related problems. “We all know, without a doubt, that all lives matter. But right now is not the time to say that to anyone who is black, because, you see, our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters and mothers and fathers are publicly being murdered live on camera because of the color of their black skin,” she said. Bingham spoke about problems she and her family have had with police – an unpleasant incident with an officer while in the apartment of a housing authority tenant suspected of using drugs, and the time her son was followed home by an officer who didn’t seem to think he lived in a certain subdivision. She also spoke highly of the way Versailles police leaders followed up on those incidents. “Silence is not an option, because silence means consent,” Bingham said. The second-to-last speaker was Joann Brown, the mother of Bug Brown, who sang, “He’s Got The Whole World In His hands.” (Joann Brown also sang at the June 1 rally at the Versailles Police Department.) The final remarks were delivered by Pastor Floyd Green, the longtime leader of First Baptist Church. “And I hope that this is not just an event, but it will be an event that will develop into a process that will bring us together in community,” Green said. “What we have witnessed tonight is a time of responding to the changes and challenges that we are enduring …” Green read a few words in Latin, then explained their meaning: “One for all, all for one.”

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