“Below you will find a very powerful letter written to Harriet by Douglas in 1868.
I am glad to know that the story of your eventful life has been written by a kind lady, and that the same is soon to be published. You ask for what you do not need when you call upon me for a word of commendation. I need such words from you far more than you can need them from me, especially where your superior labors and devotion to the cause of the lately enslaved of our land are known as I know them. The difference between us is very marked. Most that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way.
You, on the other hand, have labored in a private way. I have wrought in the day – you in the night. I have had the applause of the crowd and the satisfaction that comes of being approved by the multitude, while the most that you have done has been witnessed by a few trembling, scarred, and foot-sore bondmen and women, whom you have led out of the house of bondage, and whose heartfelt, “God bless you,” has been your only reward. The midnight sky and the silent stars have been the witnesses of your devotion to freedom and of your heroism. Excepting John Brown – of sacred memory – I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people than you have.
Much that you have done would seem improbable to those who do not know you as I know you. It is to me a great pleasure and a great privilege to bear testimony for your character and your works, and to say to those to whom you may come, that I regard you in every way truthful and trustworthy.Your friend,Frederick Douglass.
“It is painful to write about the shortcomings of the Declaration of Independence. The historic document was officially approved by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776 — a mere two days after the Lee Resolution formally declared the American colonies to be independent of the British Empire. Because the American colonists ultimately prevailed in their revolution against King George III, the document has been immortalized as one of the opening salvos in the ongoing fight for human freedom that continues to this very day. Without this seminal text, every social justice movement that has followed would never have come to pass.Yet despite its overwhelmingly positive impact on history, the Declaration of Independence was also a product of its time — and bears some of the shortcomings of its era, including sexism, racism and prejudice against Native Americans. Here is a look at the events leading up to the creation of that document, as well as involved in its actual signing, which one must inspect for a more rounded look at this period in history: . . .”
“Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed.”
What is the price that a people pay for 400 years of “gaslighting”. Personal engagement, cruel punishment without question, severe poverty, newspapers, government policy, TV, media, music . . . . ?
We will now have an alt-right #SCOTUS There is little that we of goodwill can do about it now. It is too late for those who would, who could have to claim their government. We all know something is wrong – it has been for a very long time. When the horse is out of the barn, it is too late to put up a reminder sign to close the door.
#Trump and his GOP puppets are the biggest and most pressing problem, but not the only ones. We are cornered on all sides. A ruthless sheriff is in town and his deputies are everywhere. Poor people have been targeted among the unwanted. Public spaces and tax-rolled law enforcement are now weaponized to dispose of and make invisible, instill fear and isolation to “otherize” those deemed unworthy. Blatant acts of violations of fundamental human rights have become normalized forms of public policy enforcement and oversight.
Protest marches and protestations of any kind will not turn the time. While we idled in our fear of the Muslims, Al-Qaeda and Iranian powers. Wall Street and Washington’s swamp creatures were sucking the very oxygen from the air. Even your vote has been stolen and put up for sale. The GOP stands behind a corrupt and vile President because they know that their fate is controlled entirely by him – manipulation is expensive. The lifetime of emissaries can be fleeting at best.
As we enter the last era of my broadcast career, our message is profoundly fundamental:
1. Exposing wrongs is not the same as righting them.
2. What we knew as America has been forever changed. What we understood about it, remains the same.
3. Governments are not moved by shame. In this era, neither are politicians.
4. If the House is not turned in November, there will be a seismic permanent shift in the infrastructure of the republic. One where there is no undoing.
5. Comrades and allies must be willing to make all kinds of serious sacrifice. If not, our children and grandchildren will be the sacrifice.
We look forward to being back with you in the Fall of 2018. Do we have what it takes to igniting the rights and dismantling the wrongs, to rescue those who don’t know they need rescuing ? I don’t know. We will see.
“Transforming Truth to Power, One Broadcast At a Time”
The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II with Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and other moral leaders at the US Capitol building on Jan. 9 2017, following a #MoralMarch and protest against the nomination of former Sen. Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General.
Gracious, eternal, and all wise God; Thou who formed what is out of nothing and called us into being to serve You — You, O Lord, who weigh every nation in the balance of Your own standards:
Today, we acknowledge how great Thou art, the marvelous mystery of Your mercy and the excellence of Your name. Because Your Holy Spirit brings all things to remembrance, breathe on us now, that we might remember how gracious You have been to this nation we call America.
As a nation, we have our faith and frailties, strengths and shortcomings, yet You have allowed grace to be shed upon us. When we have honored Your ways and when we have fallen short, You have been a merciful God. Remind us that the history of this nation is more about Your grace than about our greatness. When we are not where we should be, let us hear and follow what You said to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will I forgive their sin, and will I heal their land.”
In our land we need healing. For a land so blessed by grace, there is too much poverty, too much sickness, too many children dying, and too much war. We need a healing. A tax bill that guts government to give a windfall to the wealthiest when income inequality is greater than it has been since the Gilded Age is more than bad policy; it is a symptom of spiritual sickness and a moral malady. We need a healing in America.
In Your word You have said that those who rule the nation must be just, and if we are to please You, we must learn to do justice, care for the fatherless, support the widow, loose the bands of wickedness, pay people what they deserve, care for the sick, the homeless, and the hungry. If we are to please You, we must hope to hear you say, “For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”
Trouble the soul of this nation as in the days of Amos so that no one is at ease in Zion. Use our prophetic words and our prophetic actions to remind those in the seats of power that they are not God. Trouble this nation with the voice of concern and the voice of compassion. Make us mindful of the thousands without paths to the pursuit of happiness.
Shake the foundations of our conscience until we cannot help but change our course. Move on us to study war no more. Cause us to live our lives to serve others. Teach us that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness requires justice and hope and help and caring. Expand our morality beyond the narrowness of personal piety into the broadness of public policy. Give us the strength to challenge racism, poverty, unchecked militarism, and ecological devastation.
Empower us with Your Spirit that we might be a nation unto God, not unto fear; show us again that America is only here by your grace.
Show us that grace carries responsibility — that a nation under grace must lead the world, not merely police the world. A nation under grace must care, must remember her past so that she will not be arrogant in her present. A nation under grace must bring the world together and not tear it apart. A nation under grace cannot refer to people as aliens when we all were created with one blood. A nation under grace cannot leave cities decaying and flood victims barely surviving. Grace demands something better than that. So Lord, as you stirred up dry bones in the valley, stir up hope, and stir up righteousness.
Restore the Prophets and the prophetic voices to the land. Revive the spirit of Medgar, Martin, Malcolm, Corretta, Harriet, Rosa, Cinque, Douglass, Dubois, Sojourner, Jordan, Wilkins and Bethune. Call us and challenge us again. Teach even this nation that with all our power and all our resources, we will still have to stand before Your judgment one day. Give us leaders who understand that the purpose of power and influence is to help someone. Grant us a citizenry determined to be yoked together in common humanity. Let us know the only way to a more perfect union is for our laws and policies to reflect Your kind of love.
Let faith be a conviction, not a convenience. Help us, O God, to smooth out every wrinkle in the flag of our common life until we are one nation under God, with one justice system for all, with living wages for all, with quality education for all.
Finally, O Lord, we pray that the mind of the Psalmist will be ours:
Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:
Sing forth the honor of his name: make his praise glorious.
Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.
All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name.
Come and see the works of God: He is terrible in His doing toward the children of men.
He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in Him.
He ruleth by His power for ever; His eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves (Ps 66).
We thank You, O God, that Your eyes still behold the nation. We thank You that You still see injustice, You still see poverty. And because You can still see it, these things don’t have the last word. We thank You God that you still see America. You still see our leadership. You know how to bring down the high and lift up the humble. O God, we bless Your name, we lift up every voice, we declare and rejoice that You are still the God of our weary years, the God who is able to bring life out of death. Help us to know as our foreparents sang,
Time is filled with swift transition, naught of earth unmoved can stand, Build your hope on things eternal, Hold to God’s unchanging hand.
In the name of the Father who sticketh closer than a brother, watches us like a mother, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. AMEN.
If Barack Obama doesn’t represent the end of respectability politics, nothing does.
If the way that man dropped his middle name and lost all accent and did limbo—drinking in Irish pubs and eating sloppy joes and casseroles and killing Muslims and keeping the military industrial complex’s wars and not taking Billy John’s guns; toning down his own swag and terrorist fist bumps, no longer brushing off his shoulder—did nothing to make whyte America feel safe, there’s no argument to be made for appeasing the boogey men in the minds of whyte folks. There’s no PhD that can match the degree of servitude Our Shining Black Hope expressed over eight years in the face of the fears of ignorant, pre-logical, post-factual whyte folks.
The only thing that matches his kowtowing at their runaway imaginations is the utter contempt they showed by coming out of their Middle American caves to the polls two months ago. The only thing that matches the amount of way he gave them is the amount of power rich whyte men wielded to make sure that his crowning achievement would be passing the baton to the least worthy of them as if to say, “A monkey could do this job; an abject failure—more of a failure than the buffon who came before Obama can do this job.”
No, America: This replacement is not of equal or greater value. Maybe the Russian prostitutes are not a fact, but the way you’ve urinated on the legacy of Hope is all too true.
Barack Obama—President 44 of the United States of America Barack Obama—was a Good Negro. So good that some of us in the field saw him go into the House every night while the slave patrols murdered us in the streets for snuff films and left our bodies out in the street like Willie Lynch letters and we still meme’d him and loved him and wanted him to win and are praying to this day and every other of his life that he dies the natural death of a man, not that of a King on a balcony.
President Barack Obama pulled his pants up so high we couldn’t see his eyes; just his smile. He crossed his T’s and dotted his I’s and spoke the Queen’s English so well that his words smelled like tea and crumpets and tasted like Marmite. Love it or hate it, he spread his obsequiousness all over their daily bread, knowing where his was buttered.
Barack Hussein Obama II, 44th President of the United States spoke the Lie of Progress in the only way a whyte folks will hear it; in the way that says, “We will be patient and submerge our desire—our right—to be treated as men and women and human children to your comfort. We will not ask anything of you that disturbs your predilection for treating our cultures and religions like fashion accessories and glurges.”
He spoke the Lie of Progress in living rooms and in schools, at farms and on factory floors, at diners and on distant military outposts, wearing bullet-proof suits that covered the whipping scars on his back, his pants up to his eyes so that no one would see him cry.
He spoke the Great Lie to those who asked for his birth certificate, to those who asked what he did for a living and how he earned that car he was riding in and marveled at how articulate he was while telling his wife to go back to Africa to dance with simians because they were her family.
Through it all, 44—the Man, the Legend, the living history and culmination of so much Hope—smiled, rarely giving glimpse to the enervation borne of submission. In that way, he was like us, and we saw ourselves in him.
So, now what do we see? What do we see as he walks into the pages of history, retreating to the relative protection of his legacy and status and opportunity while the worst of our lifetimes is about to happen? How well-dressed and smart must we be? Is it possible to be well-dressed and smart and articulate enough to assuage the fears of whyte folk who think that Rise of the Planet of the Apes is prediction while thinking that 1984 is not?
We’re not that good.
In spite of his flaws, and because of the way he carried them, Barack Obama was twice as good as at the best of us and he got half the respect of the worst of us. He got half the respect and is being replaced by a guy who would not be the smartest man in the room were he the only man in the room.
When they believe that the top pick of the Talented Tenth is equal to a man who is one-tenth of his predecessor; that a man who sits on a gold throne in a gold tower at the bottom percentile of emotional intelligence can occupy the same seat as Barack Hussein Obama II, 44th President of the United States—how good must we be to gain their respect?