22 October 2010
Reverend Melvin Whitley is an Ordained Outreach/Prison Minister with Ebenezer
Missionary Baptist Church and Board member of Action NC. Action NC is a non-profit
working community to “organize the fight for Justice and Equality.”
Reverend Whitley represents how life events you may not understand prepare you for your purpose. His background in Urban Planning offers an insight that helps people see the “big picture” of their local problems, plan, address issues of concern and vote to get the resources needed.
Project Vote was one of his first jobs after college. He coordinated churches and neighborhood groups to turn out the vote in Richmond, Virginia. Six months later, Project Vote ended and as life purpose would have it, he worked the next seven years as a City of Richmond Social Worker. A chance conversation with a Nun who asked, “Have you ever considered working as a Community Organizer?” began another part of his life. The job was with Richmond United Neighborhood (RUN). He was trained by ACORN in St. Louis. If you can help people recognize and use their voices in the political process, it empowers the people to change their communities for the better. Reverend Whitley taught people how to advocate for themselves “through community direct action, negotiation, legislation, and voter participation.” Now as Chair of ACORN, significant events have come full circle. With his For-Profit Company, TellMelvin Consulting, Reverend Whitley provides public policy strategic planning, managing campaign and research.
Reverend Whitley’s other civic duties include serving as Board Member for various Grassroots and public policy groups. With Democracy NC, he educates multi-cultural churches on local public policy and assisted with political questions concerning immigration, education and resources and environmental issues. His work with the Durham Voter Coalition increased voter registration and coordinating transportation so the people could vote. Area mortuary businesses took the people to the polls in Cadillac cars.
His Stance on Community Organizing and Community Education: “I am Here and I am Ready to Serve.” He feels that people are more comfortable with the voting process when they see how it works. If you don’t see the return on your vote (investment), you may not have the incentive to continue in the process. His other community involvement includes Former Political Director of the NAACP, Chair of the Dix Committee to prevent the closing of Dorothea Dix Hospital and addressing neighborhood improvement to politicians.
Other examples of his Leadership include his active participation as President for the Durham Planning Commission, Y.E. Smith, Neighborhood Association, Member of the Durham Crime Cabinet, Clean Energy Durham Board, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, The Durham Religious Coalition, Durham Capital Improvement Advisory Council, Northeast Central Durham Leadership Council, Holton Center Advisory Group, Area Board of Mental Health and Co-Chair of Men in Recovery (Homeless Veterans) and Durham Planning Board.
A Raleigh native, he enrolled in the Theology program at Shaw University, he was drafted into the United States Marine. He completed one (1) tour of Vietnam and earned a Purple Heart for service in Combat. He resumed his education and changed his major to Urban Planning at NC State University.
Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church offers many different Ministries to assist the Congregation and Community with a holistic focus. The church has strong numbers in voter registration polls and continually promotes participating in the election process in its Ministry. Among more than twenty (20) programs are Spiritual dance, Youth Development and Self-Esteem workshops, limited healthcare services, sharing their message through radio and television, scholarship aid and transportation.