By Becky Schlikerman, Chicago Tribune –
CHICAGO — The Rev. Corey Brooks spent three months living on top of an abandoned motel on the South Side of Chicago to call attention to the violence plaguing the community and to raise money for the cause. Now he’s taking his mission on the road.
Brooks said Sunday that he will walk across America — from New York City to Los Angeles — this summer with the same goals.
“You need to know I will be leaving for a little while — you should be used to that by now,” Brooks told hundreds of worshipers at New Beginnings Church. “I believe God put me on Earth to bring attention to violence in inner cities.”
He will begin 3,000-mile walk in Times Square on June 5. Organizers don’t yet know how long it will take to complete the walk, which is to end at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
“I’ll be back,” he told parishioners.
Brooks’ rooftop stand atop a decrepit motel that was a haven for drugs and prostitution drew national attention, as well as visits from politicians and dozens of Occupy Chicago protesters. In the end, a pledge of $100,000 from movie producer Tyler Perry provided the final push for reaching the pastor’s goal of raising $450,000 to buy and demolish the abandoned motel.
With his new campaign, Brooks hopes to raise $15 million to build a community center. “We believe drastic things have to be done, and we’ve got to be creative if we want to eliminate violence,” he said.
On Sunday, Rabbi Michael Siegel spoke to Brooks’ congregation. The rabbi likened the pastor’s mission to the civil rights marches in Selma, Ala.
“When we pray with our feet, we change the world,” he said drawing inspiration from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., in Selma in 1965.
Siegel, the rabbi of Anshe Emet Synagogue on Chicago’s North Side, brought members of his congregation to New Beginnings on Sunday. Among them was Marian Morris, 78, who said she was moved by the pastor’s mission and dream. She called the service “absolutely stirring.”
“The goal this man has set for himself, the dedication, is not matched by many people,” Morris said.
Church member Pamela Allen, 56, said she thinks Brooks’ mission is “amazing.”
“It’s not about notoriety … it’s about stopping the shooting,” she said.
Brooks said he’ll be accompanied by his sons, Cobe and Desmond, and supporters who join in along the way.
Also with him will be the familiar tent that housed him atop the motel. “That’s what we’re going to be sleeping in every night,” Brooks said.