It's just really tragic that after all the horrors of the last 1,000 years, we can't leave behind something as primitive as government sponsored execution.
Jack Sullivan Jr., Executive Director of Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation (MVFR)) will be the be the keynote Speaker at OADP Annual Meeting at The Madeleine Parish Hall in Portland on June 22nd. Jack Sullivan, Jr., is a native of Cleveland, OH. He is a racial justice activist, an ordained minister, and, of course, an advocate for the abolishment of the death penalty.
Jack has been justice-focused since 1968, when, as an eight-year old, he joined his family, community and nation in expressing outrage and grief over the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After Dr. King’s murder, the pivotal question that was asked in Jack’s neighborhood was, “Who will replace Dr. King?” Like many others of his generation, Jack indicated his interest in working for justice and peace. During childhood he joined his mother and grandmother as they walked picket lines demanding fair treatment as garment workers.
As a young adult serving as a church pastor, Jack participated in marches and candlelight vigils protesting death sentences and execution dates at Missouri’s state prison in Jefferson City, while working with clergy colleagues to demand the hiring of African American educators in the local high school. He would later lead faith leaders in Washington State as they lobbied elected officials, including then Governor Gary Locke, to abolish the death penalty. Jack worked with these same faith leaders to demand living wages, the exposure and dismantling of systemic racism, the inclusion of sexual orientation as a protected class in discrimination laws, global economic justice, and peace between nations.
Jack comes to MVFR as one whose life has been altered by murder. In 1997, Jack’s younger sister, Jennifer, was slain in Cleveland at the age of 21. In the traumatic days, weeks and months that followed, Jack’s family steadfastly rejected any notion that the killer(s) be sentenced to death if apprehended. No one was ever arrested in Jennifer’s death.
With over 32 years of service as a minister, Jack has led congregations in Kentucky, Missouri, Michigan, Washington State, and Ohio. He has been regional minister (bishop) of two distinct regional configurations of his church body, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) US and Canada. In 2009, while a pastor in Cleveland, Jack worked with ministerial colleagues and congregants in providing pastoral care and economic support for the families of 11 African American women who were murdered by a serial killer.
Jack holds a Bachelor of Science from Ohio University, Athens, OH; a Master of Divinity from Lexington (KY) Theological Seminary; a Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH; and an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Bethany College, Bethany, WV. He is a life member of both the NAACP and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Jack is married to the Reverend Sèkinah Hamlin who is the Director of the Washington, DC-based Ecumenical Poverty Initiative. He is the father of Nia, a college senior, and Jackie, a high school senior. Jack and Sèkinah are in the process of adopting two young children.