But if there is any legacy or uplifting lessons left by the 60s, it is that we must resist these new forms of unfreedom and falsification of history and continue to wage struggles of liberation on every level of life. For these struggles are clearly the indispensable way we understand, free and fulfill ourselves and the aspirations of our ancestors. Indeed, these are struggles demanded by our inherent right to freedom, our natural need for justice and our irrepressible longing for a liberated life. And it is a struggle for and longed for life that yields ordinary and special spaces in which the human spirit is nurtured and constantly renewed, and we and other human beings know ourselves as sacred and at the center and subject of every day and hour of history we make.
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The year 1965 began on an ominous and unsettling note—the assassination and martyrdom of Malcolm X, the Fire Prophet. Even in the white and winter cold of February, it was a sign of the coming fire. Indeed, it pointed toward the fiery fulfillment of prophecy which Malcolm, himself, had predicted. It was there, too, in the title of James Baldwin’s classic, The Fire Next Time. And it was the topic of countless conversations around the country. Baldwin had taken his title from a line in a Black gospel song which says: “God gave Noah the rainbow sign, no more water, the fire next time.” And this, for us, was the fundamental time of turning when the fire would be this time. ... read more »