A formal response to a reporter's question when asked about a critique of the Anacostia Economic Summit by a few individuals who make the claim that we as organizers were not being "local" enough:
Respectfully, I do not understand the question.
The mayor was my co-chair. The councilmen for Ward 7 and 8 were co-chairs. There was a local summit host committee comprised of many leaders from the community, and residents. We had several prominent speakers from Anacostia on the program. My staff did extensive outreach to leaders in the weeks leading up to the summit and I personally sent out 300 letters to a range of community leaders in the area. This said, there is just no way that you can get around to everyone who believes they should have been invited. Simply impossible. We did the very best we could and we turned no one away. If you did not have a delegate code or an invitation and you went to our website to register or called my office, you were not turned away. Again, of course respectfully, I do not understand the question.
I am comfortable with our effort to be inclusive in every way. And for few who criticized us "just because," I have two things to say; (1) there is unfortunately enough poverty to go around so don’t get fixated on me, or HOPE. We need to all just get to work. We cannot afford the luxury of choosing our friends when it comes to solving our problems. A friend is someone who wants to help, period. Anything else is a game that people are playing around power for themselves, and not progress for the people. (2) Respectfully, “I like what we are doing much better than what other folks are not doing.”
It is much easier to figure out what we are against than it is to figure out what we are for, and then to commit ourselves to doing something about it. Criticism is easy. I invite the entire community, post summit, to join with me and the entire Operation HOPE and “silver rights” family as part of the Anacostia Economic Summit Committee which will work to truly solve problems and create solutions in the community going forward. Anyone sincere about making a change will find that we are the easiest folks in the world to understand and work with. Finally, people should know that God is my boss, and poor people and the working class are my clients. And so if you don’t have a message from God, or a way to help the poor and struggling, I am not the one.
John Hope Bryant, founder of Operation HOPE