Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / New United Baptist Church Senior Pastor Jeffrey Wilson, center, speaks during a news conference for a coalition of local Black pastors endorsing Wade Hinton in the Chattanooga mayoral race on the steps of City Hall on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

A coalition of African American clergy and community leaders endorsed Wade Hinton for mayor of Chattanooga on Monday.

The group of 30 pastors and other leaders announced their support for Hinton on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one of many matters of historical significance noted in the endorsement.

"We are gathered here today, on this Martin Luther King Holiday, because the Rev. Dr. King's prophetic mandate is alive and well. As we witness the dawn of a chapter in the annals of history, the swearing-in of the first African American and the first woman to hold the office of vice president and the election of the Rev. Dr. Ralph Warnock in Georgia as the first African American U.S. senator from that state," the statement reads. "We African American pastors, ministers and community leaders stand together in hope and belief that Chattanooga and its citizens are not just simply content with watching and reading about firsts, but ready to join the ranks of cities and communities that are ushering in great change and progress."

And, to continue that progress, the group endorsed Hinton, the former city attorney, for mayor of Chattanooga.

"It is our belief that Wade Hinton is the person for the job," they wrote. "He is qualified, he is committed, and he cares about this city, his city, his home."

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African American leaders endorse Hinton

Hinton, who would be Chattanooga's first African American mayor, said he was honored by the endorsement and its timing.

"I am honored, especially on the day we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to receive the endorsement from so many of Chattanooga's most influential African American pastors and community leaders. These men and women lead the heart of our city, and their support shows that we have the momentum in this race," Hinton said in a statement Monday. "It would be a great honor to be elected and to serve as the city's first African American Mayor. I know that together we will make Chattanooga a city we can all believe in — a place where every resident, regardless of their race, their background, or ZIP code, is able to help drive and benefit from our community's progress. Together, we will create an economy that works for everyone and in doing so, build a more equitable and inclusive city."

The statement was cosigned by:

Dr. Jeffrey T. Wilson

Dr. William Terry Ladd

The Rev. Charlotte Williams

Bishop Kevin Adams

Dr. Ternae Jordan

Dr. Ernest Reid

Dr. E Johnathan Thomas

The Rev. Carlos Williams

The Rev. Timothy Careathers

The Rev. J.W. Cole

The Rev. Edward Thrasher

The Rev. Bruce Suttles

Napoleon "Donut" Williams

James Moreland

Irvin Overton

Bette Lynn Smith

Stacy Lightfoot

Vickie Matthis

Rep. Joanne Favors

John "Duke" Franklin

Gloria McClendon

Mildred Moreland

Monica Burke

Bertha Beasley

Carolyn Patrick

Dorothy Taylor

Dorothy Royal

Isabel Lane

Jeffrey Jones

Marble Holmes

Saundra Smith

Todd Lowery

April Taylor

William Jones