We Shall Overcome Foundation

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I recently posed a question to a large African American church choir: 

"Who freed African American slaves from bondage?", I asked. 

Their answer (by one person...after a long silence): "Abraham Lincoln". I was quite surprised by this answer.

Consider Abraham Lincoln's words in a letter he wrote to the New York Times, a few weeks before signing the Emancipation Proclamation:

"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union, and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union." -Abraham Lincoln

"Wrong answer", I told the choir.  You see, American slaves did not pray to Abraham Lincoln for freedom, nor did they sing "Go Down Abraham" for comfort, they turned to GOD... for justice and freedom from cruel and inhuman treatment by their sadistic American overseers and owners. 

So why is it then, that when asked, African American church members seem to struggle to come up with this relatively simple answer? In fact, it wasn't until I asked the same choir a follow up-question; "Who freed the Hebrews from Pharaoh?",  that the lightbulbs went on and they answered; GOD.

It seems as though we haven't heard our leaders evoking God's authority in our movement lately. Perhaps because it is no longer politically-correct to do so. Not since April 3, 1968, the day before Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated has God been credited for leading our cause. Perhaps for this reason, we have been wandering. -Wandering like the Hebrews of Egypt who, after being delivered from bondage, lost faith in God'd power and authority to lead them into the Promised Land. Perhaps for nearly 50 years, our people have been wandering the desert of inequality and discrimination for not acknowledging God's power and authority in our long journey in search the Promised Land. 

Perhaps the promise made to African Americans by God, that they would "Overcome", has not yet been fulfilled for this reason. Perhaps our political and religious leaders have intellectualized this struggle with their own words and understanding, hoping, perhaps, to gain notoriety by politely appealing to America's sense of reason. Perhaps they have forgotten what Ephesians 6:10-12 teaches us:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” 

Lastly, consider the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s final prophetic sermon on April 3, 1968 in Memphis Tennessee - the day before his assassination:

"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.

And I don't mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! 

And so I'm happy, tonight.

I'm not worried about anything.

I'm not fearing any man! 

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!"

-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

-Isaias Gamboa
We Shall Overcome Foundation

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