Friday, March 13, 2015

A Reason To Lift Every Voice

A few months ago, I read Allan Cross' book "When Heaven And Earth Collide". The book is a story of the Civil Rights Movement, the Church ... and its inactivity ...  and how Jesus himself had a much better way to handle things that were being done then, had the church only submitted to it.

It was a most eye opening book, very informative, and quite moving. Now, I was a typical clueless Northern white guy when the civil rights movement began, and didn't pay a lot of attention to it. We lived in the Indianapolis area, and I always found it strange that Crispus Attucks High School, an all-black high school. in Indianapolis, wasn't viewed as part of the Indianapolis educational community, informally.

Example: in the big High School Athletic Association basketball tournament that came every year, whatever team won the Indianapolis Regional was always viewed as the "Indianapolis team", through the subsequent Quarterfinals, Semi-State, and State championships. Except when Attucks won the regionals. Then, at least among the white community, that didn't seem to be the case. We'd root for one of the big schools somewhere else before we'd pull for Attucks.

That always seemed strange.

Also, my family's attitude was always "Black people are as good as we are, but I have the right to choose who I live next door to". That also seemed odd to me. And, the specter of decreased property values when a black family moved into the neighborhood kept white folks edgy in our community, and that's really nonsensical, since the values only decrease when people think they decrease. And if white folks thought that was the case, they by golly losing money on their house seemed just desserts, to me.

Thank goodness things have changed. No, we're not in Camelot yet, but black families live in my subdivision and their neighbors see them as neighbors. As do the children.

It began to change for me when I saw a 60 Minutes report about a nursing home in Alabama, occupied by black ladies, in which they slept in chicken-wire cages. That broke my heart and brought tears. That, and a particular joke I heard one day that got me, down deep inside.

Skip to the present, I don't know what to make of what's going on now. I heard absolute OUTRAGE by famous people, after those college kids posted that video of their idiotic "n-word" rant ... my opinion: those kids have a real special kind of stupid.... but when 2 police get shot in Ferguson a couple days ago, nothing is said. That I heard. And no, I don't know the race of the shooter or shooters, but it doesn't really matter. Shooting police ought to bring as much outrage as singing on a bus.....

All of which is by background to introduce a song (from a poem) I happened across some weeks ago. I decided, in light of all that's gone on, to write about it. Perhaps as an indication of the respect I hold for the black community in light of all that led up to and through the civil rights movement. I mean, just look at Negro Spirituals. Not a word of bitterness or revenge that I've ever seen, which is a seldom-noticed and immensely admirable quality..But in this post, I'm not speaking of Spirituals, but rather the "Black National Anthem". Its title is "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and it is the most magnificent song I know ... excepting of course those which tell of the wonders of God and of our Savior. You'll find it linked to, below, and I encourage you to listen to it. Be especially on the lookout for lines which thank God for how far they've come, and most especially the line in which the song implores God to protect them, lest "drunk with the wine of the world we forget Thee".

Wow. Perhaps the most moving line in a song I've ever heard (with the same previously-excepted songs).

Keep in mind this poem, and song, was written during, and with the "Jim Crow" conditions that exited, in 1900!

Here's the video:





Incidentally, you may notice I use the term "Black" and not "African American". The latter term indicates there's more than one kind of American, and there's not. At least not racially. My black friends are every bit as much American as I am. Besides, they've told me that "Black" is the term that the people chose for themselves. I recall that news item, at the time; hence it's the term I use.

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