Martin Luther King jr Day celebrations in Brooklyn and Philadelphia
Above, Jan 17 2015, the Pennsylvania Black Caucus led by Pennsylvania Rep Vanessa Lowery Brown remembers Martin Luther King jr and the struggles that continue. Below, death comes more easily to sons of Africa when confronted by police or by civilians with guns. The Rev Martin Luther King jr talked about that in the 1960s, we are talking about that in the second decade of the 21st century. Bottom video, 2014 riots in Ferguson after a grand jury refused to indict a police officer who had shot dead an unarmed young man.
The Black National Anthem
by James Weldon Johnson
Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land
Martin Luther King jr Day celebrations 2014. SJ Dodgson MJoTA 2014 v8n1 p0119
At the left are the words to the Black National Anthem. Now I have them for the next time I need to sing them. During Kwanzaa and MLK Day celebrations, we sang this song a lot.
And it is a lovely song. Sung after the national anthem. The song was first sung in 1900, 37 years after the proclamation of emancipation, and only 4 years after the Supreme Court ruled that apartheid was legal in its "separate but equal" decision.
This is a fighting song, and after the Trayvon Martin murder and the disemboweling of the school system in Philadelphia, we know the fight continues. And we must always fight to make sure that our children and grandchildren all grow up healthy and educated. Amen.
Celebrations for me started in Brooklyn, when Dr Roy Hastick sr, president of CACCI held the annual CACCI MLK event at Brooklyn Borough Hall on the morning of Thursday, Jan 16.
Four years ago, the celebrations on Friday Jan 15 were hijacked by the devastating earthquake in Haiti 3 days previously. Every elected official threw out their repaired remarks and begged us all to help Haiti. Several broke down, and all got to work gathering donations, traveling to Haiti.
The recent catastrophes, the destructive rains in St Lucia, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines, have been on a lesser scale, but help has been organized from Brooklyn, and pleas for help continue. Brooklyn.
Son of Belize, George Hulse, who is a senior vice president of Healthfirst, was the master of ceremonies, and he told a story of being 8 years old on a visit to a southern state, and being ordered out of a bathroom and being directed to a stinking shack which had the sign "Colored. Men".
George told us that without Martin Luther King jr, without Malcolm X, without Medgar Evers and their legions of supporters, the incoming Borough President Eric Adams would probably be the leader of the bathroom cleaning gang. The memory of unjust indignities goes deep, deep.
The small videos on this page are of speakers I heard at Brooklyn Borough Hall, and on Jan 17, at Philadelphia City Hall and on Jan 18 at the African American Museum of Philadelphia. The Philadelphia events were organized by State Rep Vanessa Lowery Brown, a magnificent warrior for Philadelphians. She is the chair of the Pennsylvania Black Caucus.