Celebrating Black History...Week 1
Where We Were...Where We Are
Throughout February and the year, we will surely experience occasions and events that will call us to re-visit lessons learned and resiliency gained over our 402 year history in this nation. At such times, it may be necessary for us to proclaim for all to hear and know that the foundation of this nation was made strong.
Our present reality requires that we remind ourselves and others of the rich heritage and possible royal lineage embedded in the memories and souls of our ancestors who crossed the Atlantic in the holds of slave ships. Accompanying these souls was a plurality of their talents, skills, abilities, and intellect. However, the wealth generated from their plurality was often willfully seized or stolen to prosper the greed of others.
Yet, by grace, our ancestors survived and endured. Without plan or intention, they created a powerful story, rich with heroic and historic names. Others names were never written in the annals of history but were no less heroic. Take, for instance, those who kept alive the structure of vilij (village). From vilij came strength to endure and incentive to survive, knowing the vilij would enfold, embrace, encourage, and even empower.
With emancipation, vilij evolved but its ideal remained. Free, our ancestors built their own houses which became homes to rear families who grew into communities which needed buildings for commerce, and education and worship. In their places of worship, freedom prospered! They were free to shout aloud, to dance in the Spirit, and to sing their songs of pain with praise, of sorrow with joy of defiance with hope, and of equality with intent.
Now twenty-two years into the 21st century, there are some seeking to turn our direction backward. We declare, "We are moving forward!" We have journeyed too far from 1619 to be turned back. With a history of bondage and a present of legal efforts to deny and strip us of gains made, there is power in knowing God delivered our ancestors from the bonds of slavery...proving we are more than conquerors through Him. We are overcomers in God. One hundred twenty-two years ago, James Weldon Johnson captured our enduring faith:
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
To be continued