Hundreds attend interfaith gathering to work for justice, save health care law
Hundreds of people from about 50 faith-based organizations filled a Jamaica Plain church Thursday night to renew a call for equality and justice at a time of uncertainty under President Donald Trump.
The event, entitled “For a Time Such as This,” was put on at Bethel AME Church by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, and drew several city councilors and top state leaders, including Senate President Stanley Rosenberg.
Nearly 900 people filled the church pews, and sat in adjacent rooms, to call on leaders to embrace criminal justice reform, create affordable housing, and more urgently, save the Affordable Care Act.
“This terrible political tide wants to take healthcare away from 20 million people, “said Stephen Rosenfeld, the Interim Executive Director of Healthcare For All, a nonprofit advocacy group. “We’re going to loses this battle unless people like us stand united.”
Trump has vowed to repeal the healthcare law, commonly known as Obamacare, and replace it with something else.
Rosenfeld said people must convince elected leaders, particularly Republicans in Washington, that the law is worth preserving.
“Our leaders . . . want to do the right thing,” he said. “Our first fight is to try to find three Republicans to stand up and fight.”
He received loud applause from people who sat with congregations identified by signs, such as Old South Church in Copley Square and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church of Dorchester.
Guadalupe Mota, a member of the interfaith organization’s healthcare team, shared his personal story of relying on Obamacare after earning a graduate degree in business from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Two months after graduation, Mota had a severe episode relating to hemophelia, a condition first diagnosed when he was a child in his native Mexico.
“The doctors stopped the bleeding because of effective medicine,” Mota said. “The Affordable Care Act saved my life. I was able to get insurance once I graduated.”
Others spoke of the need to create more affordable housing through the newly adopted Community Preservation Act. The 1 percent surcharge on property tax bills, approved last November, is estimated to generate up to $20 million for affordable housing, recreation and open space, and historic preservation.
The Boston City Council is currently working on an ordinance to create a committee to enact the tax. A City Council committee hearing regarding the ordinance is scheduled for Feb. 13.
“We have some elected officials here tonight and we want them to here why we are here.” Said Jumaada A.H. Smith, a member of the GBIO strategy team. “This process is starting now and we are here tonight, hundreds strong. We want to hear from the city council that they will be partners in this work and that they’ll appoint the right people.”
The ordinance will appoint nine representatives to the committee, five of them will come from housing, historical, or parks organizations.
“we need to restore the wealth taken from our neighborhoods,” said Councilor Tito Jackson, a candidate for mayor. “Two generations of wealth were swallowed up and It’s our job to get it back.”