Coretta Scott King speaks at a peace demonstration in Washington, D.C., 1970.
BLACK NATIONAL ANTHEM
Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
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.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.
Words: James W. Johnson
Music: John R. Johnson
It is black history month, and sadly, just before it began, we lost the rock of our struggle, the woman who stood behind the man, Mrs. Coretta Scott King... May her Spirit, alongside her husband’s, the late Rev., Dr. Martin Luther King, live on through us, just like all of those who’s names we may not know, but whose purpose filled lives have forever altered the courses of our own…
This time of year means so much to so many, and oddly, not enough to many more in our generation. However, I feel as though no writing summarizes more eloquently who we are, where we have been, or where we are going with the strength of our faith in GOD, than "The Black National Anthem". I am so full every time I sing it, whether as a solo, or with a group or congregation. I often wonder how anyone could sing these words and not feel SOMETHING!
I am sure there will be infinite and cliché opportunities for ALL of us to educate ourselves, celebrate ourselves, watch ‘us’ on TV, read about ‘us’ in every magazine, etc. during this, the shortest month of the year...
However, please make it your business to take pride in whom and what you are, whatever your ‘box’ (or lack thereof) may be, and ESPECIALLY if you are in any way a part of the African Diaspora. We are a strong and beautiful people.
Feel an obligation to those who paved the way for you through blood, murdered dreams, torture, slavery, Jim Crow, Apartheid, and even death. Feel obligated to dream and to pursue those dreams at any and all costs. Feel constrained to take advantage of education, voting, housing, every opportunity you can get your hands on to better yourself and your community. Feel mandated to create possibilities for your self and for others; to continue the fight for TRUE equality for ALL because the war is FAR from over! Feel blessed that you can date outside of your race, go wherever you please, say whatever you'd like to whomever you please and not end up as "Strange Fruit”. Feel privileged that you can go to the school of your choice: your grandmother probably couldn’t. Feel honored that SOME people regard you as an equal, and feel compelled to teach those who are still too ignorant to understand the basic principals upon which this great nation was built: ‘We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created EQUAL!”…
Starting today; the beginning of Black History Month 2006, make a choice to honor your people, your ancestry, your God, your SELF with the life you live, with the rights you exercise, with the God-given privilege you exploit that others fought and died for. Use your life to pave the way for others... Celebrate the skin you’re in! Honor your heritage by making your ancestors proud! Realize that you will not live forever and it is up to you to leave a legacy… The way things are shaping up right now, the legacy our generation leaves behind would NOT honor the rich legacy set out before us by our predecessors… Let's work to change that one life at a time!
Chase and Live your dreams...it is the least you can do for yourself, for the pillars of our past, and for the children of our future!
And most of all, from the small voice of a queer, black, mixed, church girl:
"Let Freedom Ring"!