Pastor's Weekly Message July 3, 2016
"African Americans and Independence Day"
African Americans stand in a creative tension regarding Independence Day. This tension was highlighted in a much heralded speech given by actor Jesse Williams last week at a BET Awards show (click here to view or read Jesse's speech). On the one hand African Americans join with Frederick Douglass when he prophetically challenged America on the blatant inequalities toward blacks in America in his 1852 speech "What to the Slave is the 4th of July?" Douglass said:
I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.
On the other hand, Langston Hughes captured the hope and determination that African Americans also possess about country when he wrote "I, Too, Sing America." There is no doubt that African Americans have had to maintain a sense of hope for the future for our country in the face of continued oppression and injustice. However, as African Americans continue to sing the Lord's songs in the midst of a strange land, we will indeed make it to that New Jerusalem.
On this Sunday, in addition to celebrating the birth of our nation, we also commemorate the sharing of Holy Communion. We celebrate both national independence and our spiritual independence from sin by the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Happy Independence Day!
Peace and Blessings,
Pastor Kip Banks, Sr.