May 9th Values Forum with Donna Brazile by Nancy Morgan05/10/06
Lead: Last night, about 150 people attended a program at the Comfort Inn on Busch Blvd. sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tampaâ€™s Defending Democracy Project. The program, called Speaking Out on Moral Values: Setting Priorities That Really Matter, generated lively discussion about what moral values mean to progressives in America. Nancy Morgan reports.
Although the crowd was smaller than organizers had hoped for, those who attended were enthusiastic about the message that keynote speaker, Donna Brazile delivered. Ms. Brazile, a frequent commentator for national media, is the Chair of the Democratic National Committeeâ€™s Voting Rights Institute. As the former campaign manager for the Gore-Lieberman 2000 Presidential ticket, she was the first African American to lead a major presidential campaign. She set the tone of the evening by encouraging people to stand up for what they believe.
Panel Moderator, WMNFâ€™s Rob Lorei introduced the four panel members, Rev. Phyliss Hunt, pastor of Metropolitan Community Church in Tampa, Linda Osmundson, executive director of Community Action Stops Abuse in Pinellas County, Birgit Van Hout, Executive Director of Community Tampa Bay who served with the United Nations Human Rights Office, and Rev. Charles McKenzie, Florida Representative for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Ms. Osmundson framed the values issues around womenâ€™s rights.
Rev. Hunt talked about the definition of â€œfaith-basedâ€? movements.
Birgit Van Hout spoke about the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights as an example of universal moral values.
Rev. McKenzie offered his vision for of what needs to be done.
Questions from the audience prompted discussions on a number of issues including concern for the lack of health care in this country, separation of church and state, and the rights of those who do not share a faith-based ideology, but contribute much to society. Nick Snateslo, newly elected President of the Young Democrats at USF asked how he could best reflect the Democratic Partyâ€™s values when they are not clearly defined. Ms. Brazile responded.
It was Rev. McKenzie who summed up how progressives can set priorities that really matter.
For WMNF News, Iâ€™m Nancy Morgan