We have performed well to march and celebrate the Dream of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and now we prepare to jump into February, Black History Month. I wait with great anticipation to hear and experience what our nation’s President will do to proclaim this month. Will he insult our native land further or disrespect any of our people?
As my mind races through the calendar year, it is programmed, like yours, to expect certain things to take place. After the months of January and February, the Black community goes back to sleep on the many issues we may highlight during January and February. I suppose the hashtag #StayAwoke is useful here. We wake up like a Black bear in the outset of the year to speak up and go back into hibernation.
I am even more interested in replacing hashtags with community meetings where we voice ourselves and determine what needs to be fixed in the communities that we live in. How many Montgomery Improvement Association meetings do we give birth today? I am more interested in hearing the native drum beat that served as a guide to who we are, what we believe in, and what are we willing to do to advance our families. This is a series of questions that we must analyze.
One event that I attended during San Antonio’s “Dream Week” was is the “Black Church Still Relevant?” The inquiry was answered by several pastors, church members, and those who had some familiarity with attending church. The collective response was overall “Yes, the Black Church is even relevant.” The gray area was relevant in what? Saving souls is the first goal, but outside of saving souls for Christ, I’m not sure what the next level of issue does today’s Black church agree to.
I ask myself the question every day, “What’s next?” What’s next for me, for my family, for my community, for the city, for my state, for the nation, for my world? What's coming next? Because I was born Black, I do have a dissimilar set of experiences that I encounter everyday as we do not live in a color free world. There are those who act in my favor or act against me, but because of what I look like. Maybe, just perhaps, after I open my mouth or act, the person is for me or maybe even more so against me. This is true whether I encounter a soul who shares my color, features or someone who is opposite.
I wrestle with my religious belief which teaches Love and does not deal with how does a nation atone and make up for the deficits created by individuals who inflicted pain and hatred? Is Heaven a today thing (on land) or tomorrow thing (when I go)? How are people supposed to act who never personally enslaved me or my people, supposed to recollect, even as they think about these issues from places that were built from wealth passed down and from the free work and labor of slaves who are my ancestors of less than 150 years ago?
When I think of quotes that hold true meaning to me, the top one for me is “Jesus wept” (I memorized that for Sunday School in church) followed by Rev. Dr. King said that we, “Black people are poor people.” He stated this as a reminder, that collectively since slavery and our freedom, we were not freed into the land of milk and honey. The quote also reminds me that the journey to true freedom is one that helps Black people, and Black families to be able to deliver the same good things in life as every other type of people can enjoy. So with that in mind, many of you ask me what is my motivation, and why do I do what I do? Look at my two quotes that I have internalized to help propel me through life.
Jesus Christ wept because he took on all the bad nature of the fallen man. He understood every situation His creation would ever face that He would have to Die for to save us. I believe for Jesus, he would not be shocked at hashtag movements, #MeToo revelations, or any perceived injustice that mankind cries about. He wept because we cry everyday. Black America does not have a corner on the market for our conditions. In fact, through my travels I have seen epic poverty in South Dakota on Indian reservations. I have been blessed to see issues around the world that seem to be negative.
As a finale to the MLK Holiday, I ask you to write down “What’s next?” And list out some matters that you can agree to advance. One of the revelations for 2018 MLK Holiday is we are not on the same shared journey. Black America doesn’t hold a shared goal set. Our leadership is splintered, and our messages are likewise. Should we yearn for our full human rights, civil rights, and economic rights (to include reparations)? How we see ourselves within America and Black America is very important for us to analyze.
Gerald D. Givens Jr. Civil Rights Leader, reminds of what Dr. King wrote in his 5th book, Why We Can’t Wait, Dr. King said, “We did not hesitate to call our movement an army. But it was a special army, with no supplies but its sincerity, no uniform but its determination, no arsenal except its faith, no currency but its conscience.” Givens went on to say, “The 10 weeks before Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech there were 758 demonstrations in 186 cities resulting in 14,733 civil disobedience arrests.”
Have we become so diverse as Black people through our freedoms, that we have grown apart from the collective voice that freed us? What do we want as Black America? Do we continue to dilute ourselves and gain nothing? Do we go for the rebranding of our Black children who don’t identify with Blackness as much as they embrace being called Millennials? Do we look at a few politicians for solutions or do we mobilize massive armies? What's next #BlackAmerica?