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The Passing of Giants of the Human Spirit: Brother Jerry King

April 26, 2017 by Herbert Daughtry

Part One

For reasons that later became known, I returned from Jersey City, NJ to Brooklyn, NY on Thursday, April 13, 2017. Usually, when I am in Jersey City, I stay in New Jersey. I was attending our weekly community organizing meeting that evening. We are one week into our endeavor of attempting to establish truce among the gangs in Jersey City until Mother’s Day. Jersey City seems to be in competition with Chicago as a community killing field among our people. We intend to visit the hot spots or war zones on Saturday at 1:30pm, starting at The House of the Lord Church (427 MLK, Jr. Drive, Brooklyn, NY); and, on Sundays, return to the same place for a prayer vigil.

We are hoping that if we can have a truce in Jersey City for six weeks, we can have it for six months, and maybe for six years, and maybe forever. Participating in the planning and the activities is “A Mothers Pain.” They are a group of mothers who lost their children to violence.

As I drove by the church, my daughter, Sharon Daughtry, the Executive Director of the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA), was coming out of the door. She was finishing up the Sweepstakes Event of DBNA’s Community Tickets Program. As a part of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), in negotiation with Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), we were able to secure not only tickets for events at the Barclays Center, but also a Health and Wellness Center (we are presently in negotiations with sponsors); an Intergenerational Initiative (which would house seniors, daycare children, and youth); a Gallery (to house historical data regarding both the CBA and the development of the Downtown Brooklyn); and, funding for community groups. (The Atlantic Yards/NETS/DBNA Community Foundation and the DBNA Capacity Building Grant Program are now accepting applications. If a Brooklyn-based organization is interested in being considered for a grant, please visit our website at www. thedbna.org.)

Sharon came to the car and informed me that Jerry King, a member of our church, was in the hospital, and they didn’t think he would make it through the night. I was torn between going to the hospital, or going home and visiting him in the morning. It had been a long, grueling, and exhausting week.

A few days a few days earlier, I received an emergency call to come to the bedside of a dying woman. I prayed for her as she was passing away, kissed her forehead, and bid her farewell. She was Mary Francis, an activist/artist.

On Tuesday, April 10, 2017, I had participated in a Memorial Ceremony for the victims who lost their lives at the churches which were bombed in Egypt. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams had called for a Ceremony to show support. The ceremony was held at Coptic Orthodox Church of St. George. During my Remarks, I referenced the four little girls who were bombed into oblivion while they attended Sunday school at a church in Birmingham, AL. As I have mentioned, I have been working intensely with mothers of slain children. Now, there was Jerry King, an old, trusted, loyal, and dedicated member of our church for over 20 years, and he was passing away.

In my physical, spiritual, and mental state, I am not inclined to visit hospitals, pray for the sick, or do counseling unless I feel an overwhelming presence of God directing me to do so. I started home. A few blocks away from the church, I received another call from Sharon, informing me that Jerry didn’t make it. I would not have made it to the hospital in time, even if I tried. Perhaps, that is the reason I did not feel that divine compulsion. There was no use.

I remember I had the same conflict when Tupac Shakur died. When he was shot five times, he sent for me. He was at Bellevue Hospital. He was barely conscious – seemingly hanging onto life by the tiniest of threads. I prayed for him, told him that God would heal him, and that we would have a father-son talk. Before I could return to my church, half an hour away from Bellevue, I was met at the door by the late Deacon Leroy Applin, who informed me that Tupac was up and left the hospital. When he was shot in California, I wanted to go to his bedside, but felt compelled to remain in Brooklyn to address important matters. We know the history. There was no need for my going to California. Tupac had died.

Jerry may not be known to 99% of the population, but to us, at The House of the Lord Church, he was an indispensable member for over two decades. He was so unassuming, unobtrusive, private, and self-enclosed that few people really knew much about him.

We did know he was dependable, loyal, and humble. Most of us didn’t know that he was brilliant, talented, and very wise. He taught his sister Calculus while she was in college, and he was in high school.

To me, he was super special. He was the first one at the church in the morning usually around 5am. It is my habit to arrive at the church at 5:30am, and no later than 6:00am. Jerry would have already been there. He would put street cones to secure parking places in front of the church that the city allows.

If it was winter or cold, the church would be warm. If it was summer, the air conditioner would be on. There would be four Daily Challenge Newspapers on my desk if my article was in the paper. (I write at least two articles every week.) Every morning, there would be the Daily News. Jerry was far from being a rich man. The Daily News best suited his pocketbook. I tried to stop him. I insisted on buying the newspapers, but Jerry would have none of it. He wanted to do this for his own reasons.

… to be continued.