I had the pleasure of interviewing Rev. Williams. He is a resident in Atlantic City and serves as a pastor in a local church. His church helps to feed the hungry on Saturday’s and they give clothes to them sometimes, too. Talking with him gave me a deeper understanding of Atlantic City. I wanted to be a part of his interview group because I know we share the same religious beliefs and I wanted to get his take on the things that were going on; particularly in Atlantic City. One of the common themes of his entire interview was him talking about the cost of making changes in the area and to who? His concern was always the residents and how it would affect them. He does not just talk about the citizens but he is very active in town meetings, social media, speaking to those in power and bringing up some of these important issues; being involved. He greatly wants to see equality for all of the residents, he wants opportunities and he wants things to be fair. During the interview, he made that very clear. He also showed his viewpoint by sharing what he feels his duty is and he said “I feel part of my ordained job as a clergy and a citizen is to speak truth to power and to also encourage power to make the changes for the people”. Rev. Williams spoke of the social injustices and how there is so much of it in the county, but no one speaks of it because they want to keep up the revenue and the economy. He believes we should value humanity more than the bottom dollar. This also goes back to the point of what will the cost of the changes be and who will “pay” for it. He is clearly concerned about the state of the county and the citizens and has shown us the ways in which he is contributing to making as many lives as possible better.
I did not know much about Atlantic City other than it being famous for the boardwalk and casinos; at times I even avoided the area. I did not realize the needs of the people there and how more than anything, they need a voice. When we actually got to go down to the church in Atlantic City and feed the hungry and homeless, I felt such sorrow and sadness. I think that opportunity was more important than anything because instead of just talking about what went on, we actually witnessed it and participated in it- something that Rev. Williams does regularly. We also were able to see his church and get the story behind it. One of the most important things I noticed was how they kind of changed the image of the church a little bit to feel/look more like them. Listening to his explanation of everything and how far they have come, I realized how those who may have more wealth than you or who are privileged, have more resources and are seen more than if you do not have much. It seems like you have to fight ten times harder to get to the same level and that is really sad. That also relates to him talking about those being in power not doing much to help with the problems that the citizens face in Atlantic City, because they do not want to “ruffle the feathers”. He also mentioned that some of these people and institutions that are in power are even supported by the citizens. Rev. Williams has made some connections and relationships with some people in power and uses those relationships to also bring up some real issues in the city and bring change.
Moreover, we asked him about his trust for the power and government and he mentioned the takeover bill, which is one of the most recent issues facing Atlantic City. He was able to meet with the man that is supposed to take over the city and he said that he talks a good game, but he does not trust him. Rev. Williams spoke of some of the things that are supposed to be accomplished in Atlantic City such as decreasing debt, increasing tourism and revenue, making this a place that is safe for families, etc. He believes that these conversations are mostly positive but do not really turn out the way it was spoken originally. It ends up hurting some citizens, especially economically and making sacrifices that cost those who already do not have a lot. His constant question is how to balance that? Having a good environment, but not hurting anyone. Overall, this interview has helped me understand that the power in your environment affects how you interact with others and what resources you have.