Barack Obama has been an inspiration to many, but for the almost 40 million African Americans, his presidency has been personal. The 8 successful years in the Whitehouse was achieved through the prayers hard work, and dedication of millions of people, black, white, Latino, Asian and God’s beautiful mixtures. Jews, Christians, Muslims, contributed to this achievement. Over 10 million people were transported, out of the African continent, and sent to the Colonies in the new world. Only 5.8% or about 600,000 ended up in the land that was destined to become the United States of America. We celebrate that 600,000 for the sacrifice and contributions made to this nation in progress. In celebration of the Obama presidency, the seniors at the Martin Luther King Senior Center in Hackensack New Jersey, had gathering. Dr. Delores E. Harris Harrison was the keynote speaker, here is part of that speech given in 2008.

 

 

The voices of our ancestor’s calls out from our turbulent past and say Halleluiah, Halleluiah, Halleluiah; you are a little farther up that mountain. We as a people, do not claim victory until that last soul has reached his highest potential without hinder or restraint. We knew we could run the race, but we just did not know where the minefields were. We knew that we had the intellectual skills necessary to achieve levels of greatness, but we needed people to go ahead of us and scout out the pitfalls. Martin Luther King Jr. was called to be a scout, a guide and a way pointer. He walked the minefields of America and opened up the soul and image of America to the world, and to itself. America pointed fingers at other nations regarding their human rights policies, and the world pointed fingers back at America and said, clean your own house before you talk about the dirt in ours.

Martin was called by God to do a special mission in the world. He was to be America’s lamb of sacrifice, the one selected to carry the blame and shame of a society that said one thing and lived another. He never said a mumbling word as he bore the cross of suffering.

The Cross, which represented the disconnect between the vision of our Founding Fathers and the reality of what it was like to be a person of color living in this so called land of the free and the home of the brave, which was really the land of the white free and the black brave.

Martin led a brave army of men and women, black and white that marched up to the capital of our nation, and pulled the scales of injustice and blindness from the eyes of our country’s leaders. He knew that he would die for the sins of the nation.

Martin told us that we as a people would get to the constitutional promise land. He told us, just like Moses, that he would not cross over with us, but we would get to the place where we belonged.

Today, nations of the world speak his name in honor, but we as a people know that that honor was earned at a dear price. Every fruit that hung from a tree surrounded by men in white sheets, paved the way for this honor.

The struggles of a Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Jessie Jackson, Elijah Mohammed, and the true Christians, the Quakers, who conducted the underground Rail Road, paved the way for this honor.

It is important to say here that this is not just a victory for peoples of color. This is an American victory. It could not have been won without our white brothers and sisters marching and working shoulder to shoulder with us in the struggle.

The blood of black men and white men flowed in the streets of America, they shared the same jail cells, and many shared the final resting places together. To those who carried the struggle for white America until laws could be passed and hearts could be opened – this too is your victory.

               Dr. King took the struggle against injustice, to Bible Belt of a country, and forced to look at itself through the eyes and hearts of those who called themselves Christians.

Martin was paving the way for the one who would come later. Martin lanced the boil of racism- and let fluids of injustice and fears spill out – so healing could begin. We thank you Martin for your sacrifice and courage. We thank you Fanny Lou Hamer, for your courage to call attention to the injustice in the Mississippi delegation at the 1964 Democrat convention – Where you told the people that you were, “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” – We thank you Rosa Parks for being sick and tired of sitting in the back of the bus. – Fanny Lou Hammer rose up to her feet, and with eloquence and grace let the delegation know that they may try to keep us as a people down, but in the words of Maya Angelou, — still we rise. From the moment the first African stepped off the boat – as an indentured servant in Virginia in 1619 and later made a slave for life – he has risen to the challenges of making this land a better place.

I don’t know why God reached into the heartland of Africa and selected people to come to this part of the world – perhaps he knew that those who came from a part of the world – where creation of life began – would be best suited to bring into existence this newest experiment in human living.

The 600,000 men women and children selected out of a population of ten million, to come to the British North American colonies – were to play a major part of the development – of what was later to become the United States of America. – Martin Luther King Jr. ancestral roots can be traced to that group.

There must have been something in the make up of the 600,000, which caused awe and fear from the masses of people coming out of the slums of Europe ravaged with plagues and oppression – Slaves were an investment for successful businessmen- costing the hugh sum of $1, 000 to 1,500 a piece- suggesting that only the very rich – could afford to own slaves – The colonies already had transported a large number of white slaves – and indentured servants – from Ireland- so it did not need more servants- it died however- need the skills and talents of people of people knowing how to work the soil and negotiate business transactions. Africa had the background for the development of new countries and societies – going back thousands of years – our Bible – the history of the world – in North Africa and the Middle East- gives testimony – to the achievements – of the peoples of the black gold continent.

Africa did not send the rejects of its societies to these shores, she sent – the best and talented – and out of that talent – came the foundation of a great nation. Oh yes, in each continuous generation, we rise a little higher and higher. Racism, although rooted in ignorance, comes from a fear of excellence. Racism in America is the systematic plan to stop the performance of excellence in select groups of people. Racism is never directed at a non- achieving group. It is directed at those we fear can take the prize from us.

This land designed by God and called into existence by the Holy Spirit, is large enough to hold all of our dreams. America is learning to release the dreams and songs of all of her people, and stop fearing excellence. We have overcome many obstacle places in our path; we shall rise until the day when America lives out her mission and meaning – of making this country an example- of God’s kingdom on earth. We are the people of God chosen to help bring this about.

England, Germany and America are interesting places, they devoted a considerable amount of their energies into convincing selected segments of their population that they were inferior, and devoted science – history and education – to the task of creating an artificial world of inferior and superior classes of people. But you see, my God don’t do classes. We rise to all challenges. We rise, we rise. My Bible tells me that I am made in the image and likeness of God – so even when the teachers in my high school classes would try to encourage me to take industrial classes, and study to be a hairdresser – my mind and my family said – rise higher – rise higher. Martin had to go through many of the same challenges. He was lucky that he had the foundation of learning from Southern teachers – who were dedicated to the task of preparing him for great things. When he left the protective cocoon of Southern Black culture, where excellence was taught and expected, he ran into the American European roadblocks to success.

The American European culture knew nothing of the survival strengths and secrets of the chosen peoples of God. They knew nothing about the art of deception and disguise. They knew nothing about the skill of pretending and acting dumb and submissive – in order to survive.

They knew nothing of the slave songs that were coded to deliver messages of special gatherings or the schedules of the Underground Railroad to freedom. They knew nothing about the purpose of the colorful and intrigue designed quilts hung on clothing lines outside mansion houses and slaves cabins containing coded maps, transportation routes for run away slaves, and instructions for survival – quilts, which told the men to marry and develop strong family ties, and to follow special landmarks such as wheels and the stars in the sky.

Paul Lawrence Dunbar wrote a poem, which speaks about living and surviving through acts of deception. During periods of heighten racism and segregation, showing signs of intelligence could result in you being the fruit hanging from a tress. Mothers taught their children how to survive with a smile and a grin – while at the same time keeping the fire of truth within. Dunbar writes,“ We Wear the Mask” It says: Why should the world be over wise – In counting all our tears and sighs? Nay let them only see us, while We wear the mask. – Dunbar wrote the poem for the individuals born in and living through Black culture, he knew they would understand. He knew that behind every grin – was an individual struggling to hold it together -so that the seed would survive. He knew that from this people trapped in the land of Egypt and bondage – would come the one who was destined to speak truth to power. A truth that would transform the minds and hearts of those who were so fearful – fearful of the awesome potential of a people coming from a land where the cradle of civilization was formed – people who had the ability to turn upside down their kingdom of privilege. Dunbar writes: We wear the mask that grins and lies, It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, This debt we pay to human guile, With torn and bleeding hearts we smile, And mouth with myriad subtleties – Dunbar points out the duality of the black experience.

Living in two realities and functioning in both. The fire of truth had to be kept burning inside and not dampened – by the powers designed to force another reality on the mind. One of the principles of Kwanzaa is not to let other people define your reality. The media does not define our reality. The textbooks do not define our reality. Social scientist, do not define our reality – we must still perfect the duality of our existence in America. We must always hold the truth about who we are. Dr. Maya Angelou’s poem, “And Still I Rise” helps us to understand where the strength to stand comes from – she writes: “Out of the huts of history’s shame, I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain, I rise

I am a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear, I rise, Bringing – the gifts that my ancestors gave, I rise, I rise, I rise”.

This poem addresses the determination of a people not to be destroyed, regardless of the obstacles placed in their paths. – Society threw a whole educational system at them, – which not only eliminated the accomplishment of most of the people of color, but also textbooks detailing the inferiority and academic failing nature of a select group of people, — and still they rise.

Teachers were educated to expect low academic achievements from students of color, especially in the northern states in the country, but still they rise. Social scientist compares the academic accomplishments of 40 million people – to the academic accomplishments of 260 million people, — and still they rise. Today, Black Americans are the wealthiest most educated people of color in the world, but the media reports their failures, and not the successes.

Millions of black students graduate from colleges and universities, but society reports the numbers that are in prisons.   2.3 million African American students are attending college, but society prefers to record the drop out rate. It is no accident that we had a Martin Luther King Jr. It is no accident that he had a father and mother dedicated to keep inside of him the ancestral flame of who he was, and who he was destined to be. Martin Luther King Jr. was no accident. He came from a long line of Moses, selected to bring a people into the reality of their purpose. Moses did not have to speak to the people about who they were, but rather concentrated on the Pharoses who controlled the movement and the progress of a people. Martin Luther King Jr. told us that we would reach the promised condition in the country, but he would not get there with us. He told us of his dream that one day his four little children would day live in a nation where they would judge by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.   Are you listening Martin, -today this nation, will remember the spirit of your children as we celebrate the daughters of color living in the Whitehouse with their father, a waking dream in progress. Today, we not only celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. We celebrate the dreamer and the manifestation of that dream. Barack Obama. President Obama is the embodiment of the dream. He is the dream walking and talking. He is the dream. Not only of Martin Luther King Jr, but of the Founding Fathers who set out a vision of what they wanted this country to be. There are thousands of Obama’s out there in the heart land of America ready to release their songs of freedom and excellence.

This son of Ireland – Africa and America. Born of the Sod, and the African cradle of civilization, represent the best that America has to offer, and he is just the tip of the ice- berg. The Civil War ended on November 4, 2008, as this cousin of Abraham Lincoln became the first man of color to be elected to the presidency of the United States. We salute him on this achievement, and we life our hands up in prayer and praise and thank God for the dream and the dreamer, and for this country laying down the foundation where the dreamer and the dream became a reality. Martin was the dreamer, and Obama is reality of the dream. We say the torch has been passed on to a new generation.

Thank you Sojourner Truth for keeping the flame alive. Thank you Harriet Tubman, for lighting the way and showing us new paths to freedom. Thank you Marcus Garvey, Robert Kennedy, Edward Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, for signing the voting rights bill. We will not forget Malcolm X, whose threat to take the civil rights movement in a more violent direction, forced the country to go with the more peaceful Dr. King. Thank you for carrying the torch over difficult terrain.

Thank you to our Jewish brothers and sisters, our Catholic and Protestant brothers and sisters, and our Muslims brothers and sisters, we know you have been in the front lines of this struggle We the peoples of color in America are the- red hot- heat in the flame. We keep America’s feet to the fire of truth. We are burned and scarred, and some paid the ultimate price. We know that the torch has been passed on to the new bearer of the flame. May God bless the new president with the vision to lead America where she is destined to go.

The whole world is watching, the whole world is watching, the whole world is watching and we, the people of America celebrate this Obama time. And, to the newly soon to be president, I say If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, – nor talk too wise: If you can dream – and not make dreams your master, If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will, which says to them: “Hold on!” If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a – Great President our son! ( and he was)

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Hallelujah , Hallelujah. Hallelujah

 

 

 

 

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