African American History Month – reflection 2

As I survey the advertisements and announcements of the coming commemorations around the country of African American History Month, many of the events and activities center on the Civil Rights Era of the mid-1950s-late 1960s. There will be reenactments of the 1963 March on Washington, coupled with recitations of the sermons and speeches of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., most especially his tour de force I Have a Dream of August 28, 1963 and his April 3, 1968, at the time unbeknownst sorrowful valedictory, I’ve Been to the Mountaintop. And reflections on the sit-in demonstrations aimed at segregated public facilities (in our time, vividly, painfully contemporized as “die-ins” under the banner #BlackLivesMatter to protest police killings of unarmed black folk and the inequality of law enforcement conduct in minority communities). And ruminations about the legal and political struggles that led to the passage of the monumental 1965 Voting Rights Act, so powerfully recreated in the current film Selma. And reconsiderations of the function and validity of non-violent vis à vis more forceful forms of protest.

To reflect anew and in depth on all of this is good, lest we fall into catastrophe by failing to abide by that adage, attributed to philosopher and essayist George Santayana, regarding the discipline of remembering former times. (Contrarily, I recall Kurt Vonnegut’s retort: “I’ve got news for Mr. Santayana. We’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That’s what it is to be alive.”)

O’er the course of this month and beyond, I will contemplate this rich history of test and triumph, all of which, for me, clarifies in our time struggles yet to be engaged and victories yet to be won.

I also will draw from the sacred memory of my personal history those whose lives and witness were models for me, taking the clay of my mind and heart, soul and spirit, and, like the hands of God the potter, molding me to be a person of love and justice.

2 thoughts on “African American History Month – reflection 2

  1. I wonder how many victories will be won in the near future? The year 2014 just felt like the year of losses and the undoing of so much that had been won in our past, with the simple non-indictment of two police officers and all the resulting unrest in race relations. I’m wondering how God will indeed mold us to not allow a year like last year keep us from moving forward this year and beyond. I’ve always loved the arts so I’m fascinated by the concept of “molding” mostly because unless you actually “drop” what’s been molded it absolutely stays together and serves its intended purpose. Well done Paul!!


  2. Loretta, your comments help to reveal something that may be driving my personal reflections in relation to AAHM. (I am so aware that much of world is unconscious and that my ready awareness of what I think and feel, intent and do is a smaller part of who and what I am.) Thanks for the insight, which is this: I oft feel oppressed by the outer world of terrible circumstances, hence, I, reflectively, may have ventured inward to explore more closely my experience to seek AND to find evidences, PEOPLE of grace and goodness in my life to provide a counterweight to all the rest. Yes, I believe this is it! Again, my thanks!


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