09 February 2010
Find your voice…
“Lift every voice and sing, ‘Til 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 roaring seas..”
These words are the opening stanza of a song known as the Negro National Anthem. I love the words of this song which speak of the triumphs of the African-American people as they overcame slavery, hardships, the Jim Crow laws, the unfairness and unkind treatment of the pre-Civil Rights era – a time that in our current state of prosperity (and yes, in comparison, even with the recession, we (as a people) are much more prosperous than most of our slave ancestors could have ever imagined being), we forget. We place all this in the back burners of our minds – until February of every year. Black History month. A month to celebrate the triumphs, contributions, and impact that coloreds, Negros, Blacks, African-Americans have made on this country. There are heroes that are pulled out and admired every year: Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Harriett Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and now, of course, Michelle and Barack Obama. The achievements of these people are great and should be remembered.
But there are “little” people throughout history who made impact – and there are those of us making impact today who are often unsung and unnoticed by popular media or the history books. Like Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, NJ, who took the initiative to turn his city around because he believed in the greatness of his city and the people who lived there. Like Mary Eliza Church Terrell, who in 1896 founded the National Association of Colored Women to assist colored women with financial assistance and a voice on the national stage for issues like segregation, bans to voting, economic inequality and lynching. And like Robert S. Abbott, who founded the Black newspaper, The Chicago Defender, because he felt the Black population in the Chicago area needed a stage in which to air their grievances.
We each can make an impact with our voices. Some of us have already found our voices and are doing the things about which we are passionate. I think of my good friend, Victoria Joiner Miller, and the work she and her staff are doing at WJOU out of Huntsville, AL. I think of my college classmate, Hallerin Hill, and his radio ministry and work out of Knoxville, TN. Of course, I think of my godsister, Linda Anderson, and her work as a lay minister and motivational speaker as well as her new found acclaim as author of a devotional book, FRAGMENTS. I think of my girlfriend, Hillary Roy, who, in her quest for love and all its many facets, co-authored a book entitled JOURNEYS OF LOVE, VOICES OF THE HEART that is an awesome and inspiring read, even for the cynical and love-challenged reader, like me. And then there is my girl DJ, who inspires me with her “foodie” blog and the unending battle we suffer when our love of food impacts our health, fitness and mental well-being. I think of my cousin, David Watkins, and my friends, Rashaad Pressley and Jeff Taylor, who every Friday night work with the young people in our church, honing their voices to sing praises to our Lord and Savior. I see them encourage unlikely candidates to sing solos and as a congregation member, I cannot tell you how many times I have been blessed by the music of our youth choir, Majestic, since these men took over the leadership of the choir. I think of my young(er) friends who are making an impact with their blogs and other online musings: Theron Thomas, Edward “IV” Goodman, Joice Kelly … making a statement now in their corner of the world as they matriculate through college before they “blow up” in whatever professional fields they choose to pursue. I have faith in them and will be watching.
We all have a voice. We all have a passion. God made each of us with a purpose. Our duty and responsibility is to discover what that purpose is and then to fearlessly step out, speak up, write, sing, mentor, blog, take pictures, advocate, preach, whatever it is…do it. And even if you don’t live to see the fruits of your labors, know that God is recording it in heaven – and His reward system is out of this world! (hahaha)