Culpepper, Jacobs address crowd at ‘LOVE TRAIN’ Unity Concert

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Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper, left, and Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs, right, speak on stage at Friday night’s LOVE TRAIN Unity Concert in Depot Park. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Folks gathered at Depot Park Saturday night for “an evening of good music, food and love” at the LOVE TRAIN Unity Concert hosted by local artists Terrell Jones’ Smooth Fondu, the Lamont Landers Band, Sarah Weeks and Dr. Reginald Jackson.

Aside from the music, the concert featured as special guest speakers Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs and Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper, as well as Jones’ close friend, Will Peterson, who came from Colorado to see the concert.

The event was held in response to the discord around the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police custody, which sparked peaceful protests, damaging riots and a new call to remove Confederate monuments and monikers.

Prior to Friday’s concert, Jones told The Tribune, “Plain and simple: love and unity (are) what I’m trying to implement. It’s what I’m trying to get people to recognize, that we need more of that in this world. It’s a twisted world; we need it. My goal is if I can just get one individual to open their mind and heart, to change in that direction, then I’ve done my job.”

Culpepper shared passionate words with the crowd of about 50 people gathered at the park.

“The best thing I thought I can say is that, ‘I don’t know,’ and profess my ignorance,” he said. “I’ve been a police officer for 42 years. A lot of times, your beliefs and what you know are what you’ve seen and what’s happened to you. I know what it feels like to pull a car over on a back road and be afraid walking up to the car as a police officer that I might get shot. But I’ll say I don’t know what it’s like to be pulled over and be worried that the police might shoot me because of the color of my skin. I don’t know. I know what it’s like from my experience to go tell the parents of a young police officer that he’s been shot. But I don’t know what it’s like to go tell the parents of a young black man that he’s been shot by the police. I’ll admit it: I don’t know. I’m ignorant. I know what it’s like to go to the funeral of a police officer that’s been killed in the line of duty, but I don’t know what it’s like to go to the funeral of a young black man that’s been killed by the police. I don’t know. But you know what? I admit my ignorance and I’ll tell you; I want to know. If all of us wanted to know how the other person feels, we’d have a whole lot better world, I think. That’s the message I wanted to give out: let’s just try to know each other.”

Said Jacobs, “I look out, and we’re all leaders in one form or fashion or another. In one form or capacity, we’re all leaders. History will judge us as it sees fit; however, history has never looked unfavorably upon leaders who lead with compassion and care for their fellow man, and this is how we should make our place in history in such a pitiful time as we are in now. Lately you’ve seen the term ‘sheep’ and people being judged as weak as being ‘sheep. In terms of weakness, we can wear that with honor, because we’re led by the good shepherd and he led his sheep.’ Even if you think that some of the things in the world today are not justified, they still exist and we have to deal with it. Our lesson is simple. We should be diligent in our effort to be unified against these things. Jesus did not insult or belittle those who were afraid or faced with challenges or with adversity; he went out of his way to come alongside them. Doing this, he showed his way to show their lives matter to him, and we must do the same because all lives matter and they should matter to us.”

Jones smiled, “Thank you to everybody that played a part in making this happen and helping us make this happen. I’m going to try and do this again, and hope you guys will participate again with us!”

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Smooth Fondu’s Terrell Jones is seen performing at the LOVE TRAIN Unity Concert Friday evening in Cullman. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)
Vocalist Sarah Weeks is seen performing at the LOVE TRAIN Unity Concert Friday evening in Cullman. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)
Dr. Reginald Jackson of The University of Alabama at Birmingham is seen performing at the LOVE TRAIN Unity Concert Friday evening in Cullman. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)
Lamont Landers of the Lamont Landers Band is seen performing at the LOVE TRAIN Unity Concert Friday evening in Cullman. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)