Davis addressed a full sanctuary in the keynote speech for a Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration sponsored by the Anniston-Calhoun County Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
“Thank you for four decades of speaking truth to power,” Davis said in paying tribute to the chapter’s membership.
Mixing spiritual exhortation with acknowledgement that Alabamians are living through tough times, Davis’ speech expressed faith that support from voters will put the Democratic candidate on the Statehouse steps in Montgomery next year to take the oath of office as Alabama’s next governor.
“I happen to believe one year from now, if God’s children rise up and mobilize, we might have change come in the state of Alabama,” said Davis.
“Every campaign is a storm, but I’ve got a God who rules over it ... If he has a place for me, I ask that he be the wind beneath my wings.”
Davis also took note of Anniston history in his remarks by asking his audience — which included Mayor Gene Robinson — to remember a time when a mayor didn’t have to go to west Anniston to get elected.
“I believe,” Davis continued, “God has blessed us to lead us to a time when if you want to get elected, you have to go everywhere.”
Davis’ comments regarding King also touched on Anniston history — specifically referring to how people in the cold grip of poverty would benefit more from knowing about the King who suffered hardship, not the King who’s memorialized in a holiday.
“It may be cold in Anniston tonight,” he said, “but I bet it was colder when Freedom Riders came through here.”
Davis offered no specific proposals of policy, although he did say it’s time for a “gut check” in the state, calling for the same sort of rewards that are bestowed upon star athletes to be bestowed on scholars as well.
The speech came about three-quarters of the way through a full service of praise, worship and passing the plate for the SCLC.
The Jacksonville State University Gospel Choir opened with a stirring rendition of “How Great Thou Art,” and three young boys, Jemeal Christian, Terrace Christian and Carlos Costelano, expertly recited memorized passages of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
Alabama District 32 Rep. Barbara Boyd, whose birthday was Sunday, recited a favorite poem, and Robinson offered Davis an endorsement for his gubernatorial quest.
Calling Davis “the most intellectual candidate,” Robinson said he’ll need help to get elected.
“Let’s support Mr. Davis and make Mr. Davis the next governor of the state,” he said.