We’ve Come This Far By Faith

Steve and Karen Mohr

This is the picture that inspired this teaching. I think of these heroes who never made the news and never sought fame or leadership. They did what they were called to do without assumption. I work on race issues, so the selfless giving of these people is seeking to gain dignity in a world that does not accept Black people. 

 

SO the Black woman says to the white woman "when you look in the mirror what do you see?" and the white woman says "i see a woman". The Black woman says "You see, that's the problem for me because when I look in the mirror in the morning I see a Black woman. To me, race is visible. But to you, race is invisible. You don't see it. " And then she said something really startling. She said "that’s how privilege works. privilege is invisible to those who have it.”

 

Michael Kimmel

 

 

 

I use white reference points when I speak. When I say 'we" it often means "white people." I try to include the adjective white when I mean white people but sometimes I forget. I want to thank Sito for maintaining a Black presence in our thoughts using the Listserv during the month dedicated to Black history.

 

 

LORD what is Worship? What are its Rhythms, its Tones and Pitches, and what is it to You? 

My Children, WORSHIP is the awareness that I exist, and that I AM someone to be Acknowledged and Revered; it is a Request for Me to come among You. Worship is drawing close to Me, and giving up SELF to do so. You there on Earth Sing Your Worship, and clamor musically on instruments meant to give voice to Your idea of Worship; and yes, if You read My WORD a certain way, this holds some truth, making a joy filled noise gets My Attention. But to give Me true WORSHIP, one must add to this a HEART that is Opened to Me, a Heart that will not lie, a Heart that will forgive the wicked, feed the hungry and give refuge to the poor; for you see My Children, the PUREST WORSHIP is what You DO, not what you SING. Every act of Mercy is a Song; every act of Compassion, is a Musical Note to Me, and every act of LOVE is a Symphony greater than anything produced by Beethoven or Mozart. My Son SANG the greatest Worship ever played out on Earth, and NEVER Voiced ONE musical note; never even spoke of it, because He was DOING IT with Every act of Kindness, Every Healing, Every Sermon and Every time He touched the untouchables and corrected the priests. Worship My Children, is to be DONE, and I will then Hear the Music of the Deeds and pour out Blessing on You; I will SURELY come among You then; Your WORSHIP will compel Me to do so! AMEN and AMEN!!!

 

Avon Bellamy 

 

When I think of Black people doing things I think of the many blessings they have given to uplift the oppressed and use the gifts God gave them.  I would like to play a song I love called Blessings on Blessings as we celebrate the lives of our Black heros!

 

Blessings on Blessings - Anthony Brown & Group therAPy

 

I want to bring wholeness to our community. Wholeness in awareness. Wholeness in sensitivity to others not like us. I want to imbue respect for value systems that may clash with our individual or community value systems. I want to bring understanding and faithfulness. I reach out to you Yahweh for nurture as I seek to abide your will within my spirit. I want to abide in your wholeness.

 

I want to say the names of Black heroes celebrated overtime. Not just the entertainers, poets and athletes. We white people are often aware of the comfortable stories with athletes excelling in a world opened by Black pioneers. I want to hear about those who actively wrote about the struggle and participated in the change.   MLK was one part of a larger picture.  There was a vast movement around him. White people always preferred MLK as a counterpoint to someone like Malcolm X. The movement was underway before MLK and continued afterwards.

 

“SAY THEIR NAMES”

Eldridge Cleaver

 

Black Panther / Activist

 

Malcom X

 

Black Power Activist

Assassinated

Frederick Douglass

Abolitionist Movement Leader

 

 

Fannie Lou Hamer

Activist

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired”

 

Harriet Tubman

Underground Railroad

Codename Moses, illiterate, “If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there's shouting after you, keep going. Don't ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”

 

Ewuare Osayande

 

Anti-racism trainer

 

Dr Huey P Newton

 

Organizer

Murdered

Marion Barry

 

Politician

 

Dr Huey P Newton

Anti-racist and Feminist Activist

 

 

Bobby Seal

 

Black Panther party for self-defense

 

 

James Baldwin

Writer / Activist

 

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

 

Harold Vines, Stephanie Harding, Mike Hopkins, Pam Ford, Terry Thompson, Karen Mohr, Florence Parkinson, Ernest Crosby

Racial Justice and healing Mission Group / Activist

8th Day

Dr Nyle Fort

Writer

 

“I do not hate white people; I hate the system of white supremacy that gives them asymmetrical power and unmerited privilege”

 

Fannie Leflore

Activist / Organizer

 

Langston Hughes

Poet / Writer

 

Dr. Lenard Jeffries

Pan-African Afro centrist

“Whoever controls the images, controls your self-esteem, self-respect, and self-development. Whoever controls the history, controls the vision.”, 

 

E. Ethelbert Miller

Poet, Teacher, Literary Activist

IS THIS THE HISTORY OF AIR?

 

"I can't breathe" he said. But there was no air. Only the absence of trees and rope. The swaying of history over another black body.

 

Michelle Alexander

Civil Rights Lawyer, Advocate, Legal Scholar, Writer

 

 

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness — the bestselling book that helped to transform the national debate on racial and criminal justice in the United States.

 

 

Ruby Sales

Activist / Organizer

 

“What do white people lose to racism?”

 

Dred Scott

 

Enslaved African American man who sued for his freedom.

Litigant

 

 

Harriet Jacobs

A mother and fugitive slave, and Writer

 

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, written 1861 an autobiography.

 

Mae Jemison

 

Astronaut

First Black Woman in space

Henry Louis Gates

 

Historian / Professor / Filmmaker

 

 

John Lewis

Congressman

American politician, statesman, and civil rights activist and leader who served in the United States House of Representatives for Georgia's 5th congressional district

 

 

Rosa Parks

 

civil rights

 

An activist who refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her defiance sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Its success launched nationwide efforts to end racial segregation of public facilities.

 

 

Dr WEB DuBois

 

 

American sociologist, socialist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, writer and editor

 

Known forThe Souls of Black FolkBlack ReconstructionThe Crisis

 

 

Sojourner Truth

Abolitionist, Women’s Rights Activist

Born into slavery, she escaped with her daughter and went to court to recover her son and became the 1st black woman to win her case against a white man.

 

Aint I A Woman speech!

Paul Robeson Jr.

Author / Activist / Historian

 

Medgar Evers

Civil Rights activist in Mississippi, the state's field secretary for the NAACP, and a World War II veteran 

 

The national outrage over Eversmurder increased support for legislation that would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964

 

Marcus Garvey

Jamaican political activist, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator.

 

Committed to the Back-to-Africa movement

 

Florence Parkinson

Educator, Activist

 

Barbara Jordan

Lawyer, educator and politician who was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement.

 

She was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first Southern African-American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives.

 

Madame CJ Walker 

African American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political and social activist

 

Wealthiest self-made black woman in America

 

Henry “Box” Brown

19th-century Virginia slave who escaped to freedom at the age of 33

 

He arranged to have himself mailed in a wooden crate in 1849 to abolitionists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 

Ijeoma Oluo - author, 

 

Seattle-based writer, speaker, and Internet Yeller

 

She is the author of So You Want to Talk About Race

 

Avon Bellamy Sr 

 

Local activist / writer, 

 

 

F.D. Reese 

 

American civil rights activist, educator and minister 

From Selma, Alabama.  Selma Voting Rights Movement

 

 

Jamal Muhammad - 

 

local radio host, 

 

Bayard Rustin - 

 

nonviolence/gay/anti-racism activist, 

 

Joy DeGruy - anti-racism trainer

author, academic, clinical psychologist, and public speaker 

 

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

Stacey Patton 

 

author, journalist and child advocate, 

 journalist, writer, author, speaker, commentator, and college professor

 

Richard Allen 1760-1831 - 

minister, educator, writer,

 

Founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME)

 

A Philip Randolph - 

organized first predominantly Black labor union

 

Fredrika (Fredi) Carolyn Washington 

American stage and film actress, civil rights activist, performer, and writer.

 

Refused to pass as white to get acting roles.  (Imitation of Life), 

 

Lee Daniels

director, producer, and screenwriter.

 

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Eleanora Fagan

“Billie Holiday”

Jazz Singer

Strange Fruit

Vincent Thomas 

Local educator / anti-racism activist,

 

 

Dr Gladys West 

American mathematician

 

(hidden figure) NASA, 

 

 

Known for her contributions to the mathematical modeling of the shape of the Earth, and her work on the development of the satellite geodesy models that were eventually incorporated into the Global Positioning System (GPS).

 

Annie Esley

Computer Scientist

Worked for NASA

Valerie Thomas

Scientist

Invented the illusion transmitter

Alice H. Parker

Inventor

Known for her patent for a gas furnace

 

 

These are Black thinkers and activists. They took extra action for the greater good.  These voices represent a part of the descendants of Abraham spoken about in Romans 4.  Each individual had to step out in faith to be the first in their area of expertise, or to raise their voice as a black person in the minority.  The road was not easy and in some cases led to their death.  While I do not know the faiths that each individual , I practiced, I’m certain that God used them to speak truth to the world.

It’s easy to hear the people who speak of diversity and idea of everybody getting along. The challenge is dealing with the anti-racism trainers, the writers of straight talk like Malcolm X and James Baldwin. We have to learn the language of the movement and recognize when it applies. I’ve pointed out when I see tone-policing and other white supremacy in action in real time. That’s a skill that takes a lot of effort to build. We all have our gifts to give to the movement for Black lives. <We also have to fill the roles that are most needed>. Fighting racism requires special skills and knowledge and racism changes constantly. Lifting up Black lives lifts us all up. Lifting up Black lives LIFTS US ALL UP.

 

When I think of this list I realize

Every one of them was likely called nigger. That would not be surprising. Everyone had family who were American enslaved Africans. Police were violent to their communities and threatened their lives. They were denied the privilege of full citizenship. They had to fight internalized white supremacy. Their families had a legacy of being kidnapped and brought to the America against their will. In an important way they were not immigrants and shared that status of not being immigrants with Native people. Immigration is a choice. Enslaved Africans were given no choice. Even after obtaining legal status as free in 1864 there was no official status for their 3/5 existence in America. There was no protection afforded them in freedom. In fact, they were likely more vulnerable in “freedom” than they were in slavery because of lack of economic opportunities and basic protection. What they did gain could quickly be stolen by authorities. Not only was there no economic opportunity, but they were vulnerable in court, in employment, in housing, in education. Every one of them overcame the impediments of being human, of being American AND being identified as being Black on top and beyond it all the other problems in human suffering. Not only did they rise to the occasion, but they excelled beyond existence to be a primal force for human dignity of all people. 

They rose each day with the same handicaps we all face, the same issues we all deal with. They were susceptible to human suffering, classism, sexism, money problems, education issues, mental illness, drug addiction, health, sexual violence, work problems. But on top of that they suffered the Black tax. Being second guessed, having to work twice as hard to be respected half as much, police violence, KKK, white supremacy, poorer opportunities. 

The people on my list weren’t satisfied with just surviving and helping their families and communities. They chose to thrive and make the world a better place for all of us, to make a nation that God told Abraham about millennia ago. Because they loved their neighbor. They created turmoil and division in their families because their success was an immediate burden on those around them. MLK himself had rifles at home as a final protection from the violence because he couldn’t count on police. But all of these heroes and more unnamed heroes persevered. They persevered and they thrived. And the world was all the better for it.

NOTE: 

Charles Yates book project

Create an audiobook version of: American Slavery As It Is, by written by the American abolitionist Theodore Dwight Weld, his wife Angelina Grimké, and her sister Sarah Grimké, published in 1839.

 

White people are racist sounds bad until you realize that