Elder Jason Malveaux
By Elder Jason Malveaux
Bethesda Temple Church
Scripture: Isaiah 51:1
Colored, Negro, Black, Afro-American, African-American are just some of the names used to either describe or define the African American.
Our history is long and storied, filled with the pain of oppression, the courage of justice, and the triumph of overcoming. The great test of our people today is our courage to be.
Without systemic oppression driving us to achieve, will we? Without social injustice driving our history, will we seek justice for all?
It is a story whose chapters are still being drafted. We are still deciding what is important to us. It is these decisions that become what we celebrate year in and year out.
It is these celebrations that become our traditions. It is these traditions that tell the story of our history. It is the telling of our history that shapes the souls of future generations.
Many will, this year, focus on the great African-American inventors and innovators, freedom fighters, and revolutionaries that helped shape the American experience. We will honor Daniel Hale Williams, Mary McLeod Bethune, Elijah McCoy, Dr. Martin L. King Jr., Dorothy Height, Shirley Chisholm, and other heroes, though unsung, who played their role in weaving together this tapestry called African-American History.
We would do ourselves a great disservice if we neglect to recognize that Black History began with Ham, the son of Noah. After God began again to allow people to replenish the earth, God gave Noah three sons, the first of which was Ham. Ethiopia, Egypt, Libya, Babylon, Syria, to name a few, owe their father, Ham, a debt of thanks for their existence.
There is more to Black History that what we often repeat. It is worth looking into what Black People have accomplished throughout the history of the world to prevent us from defining ourselves simply by a 300-year period of slavery and oppression within the context of a 6,000 plus year history on this earth.
Our text jars our thinking by reminding us to, “Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were dug.” Yes, if we would “seek righteousness,” if we would know which is the right path forward we need to “look to the rock from which we were cut.”
I am afraid that as each graduating class seeks to define itself, they do so by looking to their present era, their technologies, or simply rebel against their parents’ ideals. We named generations based on war, the after effect of a war (baby-boomers), the generation without a war (generation X), the generation after X, Y, and now generation i (iPod, iPhone, internet).
In none of these generational definitions do we find the way forward, for it was of the rock of slavery in America that taught us the courage not to fight with our fist, but pray and call on God and be free in our hearts until our feet realized it.
It was in the quarry of Jim Crow-ism that taught us to sing to God until courage raised up like a mighty geyser, springing up into freedom, victory, and triumph.
The African-American is cut from the cloth of the greatest civilizations this world has ever known. We survived hardship in this country and made opportunity for ourselves.
We value our God, our Mama, and our friends. We esteem our brotherhood. We celebrate our sisters. We have the courage, fortitude, and the demonstrated will to overcome anything. We have the courage to be.
Remember who you are, my African-American, Black, brother and sister. Remember the “Stony …road we trod,” not so you can be sad about the road, but so you’ll remember the courage it took to travel it and remember that God gave victory to you and He’ll be faithful to give it again.
Remember first who you are and what you value, then chart the way forward.