Dr. Jamal Bryant began his spiritual path at an early age. The Boston native was raised by his Bishop father and a Reverend mother. He graduated from Duke University in North Carolina with a degree in Master of Divinity. He furthers his education by studying Political Science at Morehouse in Georgia. Bryant went on to graduate from the Graduate Theological Foundation with a Doctorate of Ministry degree in 2005. At the age of 18, Bryant preached his very first sermon at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore. He relocated to Atlanta, Georgia where he was named the new senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Bryant and his members have worked closely with various community leaders to provide aid to those in need. As well as being side by side with his Morehouse classmate, Rev. Raphael Warnock during the U.S. Senate election in Georgia. Bryant has always been vocal about empowering stance on political and socio-economic issues while being involved in many powerful movements.
Q: You have been highly active in the social justice and civil rights movement. What was that experience like for you to be involved in these powerful movements?
Dr. Jamal: It just felt a part of who I am. Before I was a pastor, I was the National Youth in College director of the N.A.A.C.P. My parents were activists, my grandparents were activists. So that is the environment I wished I were raised out of. It is as natural to me as Michael Jackson’s moonwalk and that is what I feel like I am supposed to be doing.
Q: Most recently, you were a part of various protests surrounding the death of Breonna Taylor and you gave the benediction during the memorial service for George Floyd. Why do you think it was so important for faith leaders to use their words to move those who were completely still at that time?
Dr. Jamal: The Black Lives Matter movement is the largest civil rights movement since the life of Martin Luther King. So much as this is being led by young people, if the church was not involved, then we would not be in the equation of what is relevant for the culture. We had to participate like our life was on the line, because literally, it was.
Q: When you spoke about the pain in the community of those who were feeling so many emotions, was there a moment where you felt that same pain? If so, how did you heal?
Dr. Jamal: No, I think that pain still lingers. Because we have no resolve, and we have no closure. I think that is why so many are still hostile when we see what happened in DC recently, and how passively those that domestic terrorists were handled, compared to the peaceable Black Lives Matter protests. So, there has got to be something. That is why the heaviness of the responsibility and expectation on President-Elect Biden and Vice President Kamala is so heavy and high up because they are going to have to address it head-on.
Q: Your church, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, was able to provide aid where it was needed, what were some of the things you all did?
Dr. Jamal: We were able to give groceries to a half million people in Atlanta, over those 35 weeks. We were able to give free COVID-19 tests to some 5000 people. We started an urban garden for those who were dealing with food insecurity. We were able to do a whole lot of job placements and tutorial for those who were in Middle School. I am just so grateful! We had 150 volunteers who are working tirelessly for 40 weeks. We just gave them the month of January off, but the first Saturday in February, we are back into it in high gear.
Q: Tell us about how you and Dr. Damon Kimes teamed up to provide COVID-19 testing’s and reliefs.
Dr. Jamal: It was great to see the whole household pull up because we did it from their cars. Multi-generations, they just rolled down their windows, took that swab and had their results within 48 hours. People were so appreciative because a lot of them did not have health care, did not have insurance, did not have a primary doctor. So, to be able to get access was a welcome relief to so many families.
Q: The U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia was the most talked-about election since the presidential election. You and Rev. Raphael Warnock were classmates at Morehouse, how did it feel seeing him win this election?
Dr. Jamal: It is breathtaking and all inspiring. He gives the evidence that God can use anybody, and you never know how he is going to do it. Some would have assumed that getting to be the pastor of Martin Luther King’s church would be the pinnacle of your career, that there is nowhere else for you to go. Now, eclipse that by being the very first pastor in the senate since reconstruction, it is absolutely mystified about how the grace of God works.
Q: What do you think was the turning point of this election besides going from red to blue?
Dr. Jamal: It was surreal to know that I was not just witnessing history, but I was a part of it. So, I am just grateful to God, that I was able to see it happen in my lifetime. When is the last time one race changed the helm of power for the entire country? So, I was glad to be a part of it.
Q: It is a new year with new blessings, what are some of the changes within the community you are ready to see?
Dr. Jamal: I am looking forward to being around family. I am looking forward to worshiping in person. I am looking forward to traveling, I am looking forward to being able to embrace my members and my friends. I am looking forward to going out to dinner! So, it is the little things that you take for granted and I am looking forward to COVID-19 being something of the past.