Reverend Willie Bodrick, II joined Yahoo Finance to discuss his thoughts on the upcoming Presidential election and what it means for the future of the country.
SIBILE MARCELLUS: Welcome back to "2020, A Time for Change." I'm Sibile Marcellus. Both President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden say they're fighting for the very character and future of this nation. But what does saving America look like once the smoke clears after November 3? Where does that leave the millions of Americans who lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and still can't find work?
Joining us now is Reverend Willie Bodrick. He is a senior pastor at the 12th Baptist Church Historic in Massachusetts. Now Reverend, you are deeply involved in this election. You're a senior advisor to Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, who's up for re-election. Should Americans vote with their wallets? And who would help us get a faster economic recovery, President Trump or Joe Biden?
WILLIE BODRICK, II: Well, thank you for having me. And I think Americans should not just vote with their wallets, but they should be voting with their hearts, with their conscience. It was John Lewis who said that the vote is the most powerful nonviolent change event that you-- that we have in our democratic society. And this election, I really do believe, will determine the destiny of our nation.
And this could be the difference for so many, as we know, between life and death. There's no joking about this matter because 9 million people, to this point, have contracted COVID-19. 228,000 people have lost their lives. And their families will never be able to see them again. And disproportionately, Black, brown, and low income communities have felt the brunt of this.
And so I think we have to also not only think about what's happening with us economically, but what we're doing each and every day as we live in community with one another. And I believe that is what's going to be most important. I believe Joe Biden does have the best plan moving forward to make sure that we are getting back on the right track.
But I think it goes beyond economics. We're talking about economics, but we're also talking about healthcare. We're also talking about the environment. We're also dealing with so many issues as it relates to state action violence against Black bodies. And so I think Americans are going to the voting booth. They're thinking critically more so about every aspect of their life, and not just their wallets when they go in.
SIBILE MARCELLUS: In a June radio interview, you said that the country needs to repent. And you said this around the time that there were George Floyd protests happening in Boston. Is it your belief that President Trump or Joe Biden needs to repent?
WILLIE BODRICK, II: Well, I think all of-- America needs to repent. I mean, when I said that in that interview, I meant seriously that we have continued a cycle of violence against Black bodies. And this is rooted in what I believe is systemic racism. And I think both the president, who has continued to stoke the racial climate in this country, and even Joe Biden, who has admittedly said that, you know, there were some things that he's made mistakes on.
And so, as a Christian, as a pastor, I believe that the first step of becoming whole again is repentance, acknowledging and introspectively looking at what you've done and being able to step forward. So that we don't have, like we just saw in Philadelphia, the Walter Wallace, Jr, situations and we don't have George Floyd's and Breonna Taylor's. And we can actually move towards healing this nation.
I believe that though both-- and they need to repent and this country needs to repent for the sins against those Black bodies and other bodies in this country who have not been able to be healed and brought forward to a fullness of the Americanness that we all are striving towards.
I deeply believe that right now, we are seeing the racial flames stoked again by our president. And I think that has added to the reasons why people are turning out. Some 85 million people have already voted. And they've stepped up, firm, knowing that they've made a decision. And we're praying that we can step closer towards unity when we need it most.
JEN ROGERS: When you talk about those voter turnout numbers, and earlier, we had Ben Jealous talking about registering voters, and especially Black men, to get to the polls, and to hear you talking about the president turning people out right now with the flames being stoked, maybe that can happen. What happens in 2021? What happens in 2022? Do you think these voters will continue to come back? Or is this just a vote against President Trump?
WILLIE BODRICK, II: Well, we know that there's been an ebb and a flow. I mean, I think we can't have this conversation seriously without having a conversation around voter suppression writ large. Since the 15th Amendment in this country was granted to Black people the right to vote, what we know very critically is that there's been a constant attack on Black voting efforts historically.
We also know that our foremothers and forefathers fought fervently to ensure that the Voting Rights Act was there in 1965 and it was passed. But even now that is under attack. And so I think that voters will turn out. People will see their real lived experiences.
But we also must acknowledge that there are tactics that are continually affecting the voter turnout in many communities, particularly in communities of color. We have to deal with not only just the international interference that we're seeing in our elections, but we're also talking about misinformation. We're talking about gerrymandered districts. We're talking about automatic voting purges. And we're talking about voter ID requirements and barriers for those brothers and sisters that are returning citizens from incarceration.
So there are a lot of issues that we must address. I don't think that this is just a flash in the pan. I really do believe that voters are tuned in. And this pandemic has done something very interesting. It has really focused us to really look at what really matters. Who are the people who are being most affected? This really lifted the veil off of those pre-existing systemic conditions that we know that we have already been there pre-COVID for many Black and brown communities.
And so I think 2020 is just a sign that we are going to see a more engaged voter base and a more engaged populace. And we're going to continue to keep doing that work in churches and our communal organizations, advocating for the right to vote for each and every person.
SIBILE MARCELLUS: Well, America is definitely watching and can't wait for Election Day and see who wins. Reverend Willie Bodrick of 12th Baptist Church in Massachusetts, thanks so much.
WILLIE BODRICK, II: Thank you very much for having me.