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The Rev. Henry Lyons



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Letters to the Editors

©St. Petersburg Times, published September 14, 1997

Let's stop using race as an excuse

Re: The price of Lyons' redemption, Sept. 7.

I enjoyed reading Bill Maxwell's column. I agree that we blacks need to come to our senses and cease foolishly playing the race card because it is getting to be ridiculous.

Supporters of the Rev. Henry Lyons need to be reminded of Watergate. Two reporters with the Washington Post became famous and wealthy because they did what good reporters are supposed to do: They followed the story wherever it took them which ultimately caused the president of the United States to resign. By comparison, who in the (expletive deleted) is Henry Lyons?

In Washington, D.C. the federal government has temporarily taken control of the school system and most D.C. government agencies. Mayor Marion Barry and his supporters are saying that it is because he and many of the top officials are black. The truth is almost nothing was working.

When Marion Barry was caught on tape several years ago smoking crack, blacks were more angry with law enforcement officials than they were with Marion Barry. The "Man" just wanted to bring another black man down.

Mel Reynolds, a former black congressman from Illinois, had sex with a black female minor who was working on his campaign staff, and he got caught. His defense was that he was being charged because he is black. He is in prison where he belongs. Incidentally, Dan Rostenkowski, a former Illinois congressman who is white, is now completing a prison sentence in a halfway house for a wrong he committed, which punches a hole in Reynolds' theory.

At least six women accused the Army's black top enlisted man of attempting to seduce them. He is saying that he is a victim of racism. Absurd.

I could go on, but what's the use?

Let's just stop it.
-- George A. Persons, Longwood

Ashamed for humanity

Re: The price of Lyons' redemption, Sept. 7.

I want to congratulate you for publishing Bill Maxwell's wonderful column. In a few brilliant words he summed up the gist of the whole sad Lyons affair: "It has undermined the integrity of bona fide issues and instances of race."

But there is more to be said. Maxwell is ashamed because Lyons, like himself, is black. Yes; but may I add that though I am white, I, too, am ashamed. Ashamed for the human race. Ashamed for all humanity!

Lyons has done damage, not only to African-Americans, but to all of us who value probity, honor, compassion and service. So not only black Americans, Mr. Maxwell, but all Americans can feel disgraced that one of us has wronged so many.
-- Abigail Ann Martin, Valrico

Standing against racism

Some while back, when Bill Maxwell first appeared as a guest columnist in the St. Petersburg Times, I was very much impressed by his impartiality. His article, then, prompted me to write you to express my favorable reaction.

I applaud him again, this time for his column of Sept. 7, The price of Lyons' redemption. He hit the nail on the head when he wrote, "... the National Baptist Convention... has undermined the integrity of bona fide issues and instances of race."

My upbringing fostered my anti-racism, still retained these many, many years, and there are people of his kind that help me maintain it, in spite of all the senseless happenings of recent date.
-- Frederick N. Kisbany, Redington Shores

Bringing things into focus

Re: The price of Lyons' redemption, Sept. 7.

I am neither a fan of Bill Maxwell nor am I a critic of his writings. However, I offer my congratulations to him for his recent column. It's more than obvious that Maxwell has stayed in close touch with the travails of the Rev. and Mrs. Henry J. Lyons, their transgressions and, most recently, the forgiveness appeal that they both made to their followers.

"Forgive me, forgive me, forgive me... and give me a second chance." This is what the Rev. Lyons chanted to his flock in Denver. But Bill Maxwell can see through Lyons more than most of us when he states: "I am ashamed -- but hardly surprised -- that the National Baptist Convention USA, America's largest black organization, has forgiven its president, the Rev. Henry J. Lyons, his unethical behavior, and his shoddy, perhaps even criminal, activities."

Who could better bring into focus the psyche of the Rev. and Mrs. Lyons other than another African-American such as Maxwell?
-- Jack Keller Sr., Belleair Bluffs

Another Pecksniff

I write to commend Bill Maxwell's erudite appraisal of the workings of the Rev. Henry Lyons at the recent Baptist Convention meeting in Denver. Very thought provoking.

This man of the cloth is indeed clever. Maxwell's description of him as a conjure man is apt. Another adjective to describe him is "pecksniffian." This word came into our dictionaries through the novel Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens. In it the character Seth Pecksniff was selfish and slick behind a display of seeming benevolence and good works.

On the lighter side maybe Lyons, if he saw any late-night, old W. C. Fields movies, was merely following the precepts of that old master when he, out of the corner of his mouth, said, "Never give a sucker an even break."
-- Ed Sempert, Spring Hill

The race factor

Re: Lyons plays the race card, but who dealt it? by Elijah Gosier, Sept. 10.

In the aftermath of the Denver Convention I could not believe that the Rev. Henry Lyons was absolved of his actions by thinking people. But, Elijah Gosier, has clarified the reason in crystal clear, believable language: That the majority of black people are going to defend their own, irrespective of the facts, if the accusations emanate from the perceived white majority. The previous egregious example was the first O. J. Simpson trial.

I agree that "slavery" ended 30 years ago, not 130. I believe that if whites do not do all they can to treat blacks fairly and if blacks do not do all they can to accept responsibility for their actions then each publicized episode will heat up the race issue. I credit the Simpson and Lyons cases with substantially widening and worsening the racial gap in this country with harm done to both blacks and whites . . . but probably it will, in the long run, hurt blacks more.
-- John Christy Clement, Tierra Verde

Who gets in?

I wonder... If the Rev. Lyons and Mother Teresa showed up at the pearly gates late one night and St. Peter said there was only room for one more in heaven, which of God's workers would be admitted?
-- Brendan "Sully" Sullivan, Largo

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