Tuesday, August 16, 2005


UP FRONT News August 16, 2005
Published by Tom Weiss
Editorial Advisor: Willard Whittingham
“The paper that can’t be bought and can’t be sold.”


Manhattan-centric New Yorkers might generally assume that a reference to Prince Street refers to a short thoroughfare that crosses Lower Manhattan through the neighborhoods of Soho and Little Italy. There is at least one other Prince Street in New York City, also a short street that runs north south from Northern Boulevard to Roosevelt Avenue a block west of Main Street in Flushing, Queens. Prince Street rises generally as one walks north from Roosevelt Avenue and then descends, passing in front of the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.

The Pastor of that church, the man known in the community and throughout the much wider African-American diaspora as “The Prince of Prince Street, is Rev. Dr. Timothy P. Mitchell. I’ve known Rev. Mitchell for over 25 years, having first met him during the budget-cut (“fiscal crisis”) rampant days of the 1970`s. At the time, I was a social worker and an elected member of the Queens Hospital Center Community Advisory Board and was involved in whistle blowing open a high level cover-up of budget cue-caused patient deaths and psychiatric abuse at the City-operated facility. Rev. Mitchell was known as an important community activist on issues including health care, housing, police brutality, and human rights in general. Over the years I got to know him better, both at his church and in the streets, I learned that Rev. Mitchell served as one of the principal strategists and peaceful warriors in Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign. Indeed, Rev. Mitchell worked closely with Dr. King during the early days and nights of the civil rights movement in places like Albany, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama.

It was both Rev. Mitchell’s sermons, which vividly describe Jesus as the ultimate human rights revolutionary, and his full-time commitment to human rights, that, over a period of time made me realize that it was time to get myself baptized – without in any way “converting” or abandoning my Jewish roots. Indeed, at my baptism at the church, Rev. Mitchell made it a point to remind those present – and anyone else who might be interested – that Jesus was a Jew.

Rev. Mitchell recently celebrated his 75th birthday with a quite exuberant banquet at the Sheraton Hotel in Flushing. Among those present was Les Payne, the editor of New York Newsday. Mr. Payne, who may be writing the only significantly “alternative” column in a mainstream newspaper, said the following words to an assemblage that included Mayoral candidate Virginia Fields and City Councilman John Liu. Referring to his successful career as a journalist and believer, Mr. Payne reiterated several times his conviction that “I owe it all to Rev. Mitchell.” Taking into account the fact that Mr. Payne (whose column appears in the Sunday editions of Newsday), goes places where the papers dare not tread and who, as an editor, has his staff cover issues – e.g. homelessness in the outer boroughs, Lyndon LaRouche, Jr., political murders of young children in Columbia, and, at least on a number of occasions in the past, me – that other mainstream media avoid, his testament to Rev. Mitchell means something to all of us.

Putting it in a somewhat hopefully catchy way, Les Payne understands that, considering the human condition, experiencing Rev. Timothy P. Mitchell can lead to “less pain.”

Those ready to hear Rev. Mitchell can experience him speaking at the United Homeless Organization’s prayer/vigil event in honor of the 42nd anniversary of the King-led March on Washington and the “I Have a Dream” speech at City Hall Park at around 5:00 P.M. on Sunday, August 28. His sermons are delivered most Sundays at the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Flushing. Take the #7 train to the last stop (Main Street), walk one block west from Main Street to Prince Street, turn right and, as they say in the country, "You can’t miss it."



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