Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Out Of The Huts Of History's Shame..."

The following is an excerpt from the article "Redefining Ourselves... A Season For Breaking The Mold."   Read the full article at http://figtreeenterprises.com/redefining-ourselves/

Recently I sat with my wife in an audience at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia, as Congressman John Lewis gave the Convocation Address to the thousands of incoming students and their families and friends gathered there to mark the start of their careers as college students. The Congressman is a great example of someone who refused to live in the mold prescribed by the prevailing socio-historical circumstances into which he was born. He had to overcome much in his own experience…  And he did. The following is an excerpt from the biography published on his website:
“He was born the son of sharecroppers on February 21, 1940, outside of Troy, Alabama.  He grew up on his family’s farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County, Alabama.  As a young boy, he was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which he heard on radio broadcasts.  In those pivotal moments, he made a decision to become a part of the Civil Rights Movement. Ever since then, he has remained at the vanguard of progressive social movements and the human rights struggle in the United States.
As a student at Fisk University, John Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee.  In 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. Lewis risked his life on those Rides many times by simply sitting in seats reserved for white patrons.  He was also beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation in the South.”
I listened, overwhelmed by a substantial empathy, and I observed the rapt attention being paid to this man by an audience currently reflective of the American demographic landscape. His resounding message: “Never give up! Never give in!” And as I sat there in that audience listening to Congressman Lewis, the words of Dr Maya Angelou came to mind :
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” 
Dr. Maya Angelou… Wow! Say it with me… WOW! A woman who “phenomenally” refused to be defined by adverse circumstances, the scars of which she carried in her own being. Even now she “rises” … and she lifts us with her to new heights of consciousness and being! I hear her wonderfully commanding and beautifully distinct voice in my head constantly. It speaks with a powerful eloquence that stirs in us a mixture of memory and emotion that cannot be ignored.

Out of the huts of history’s shame … I rise!
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain … I rise!
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, 
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. 
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear … I rise!
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear … I rise!
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, 
I am the dream and the hope of the slave. 
I rise! I rise! I rise!”

There is a life-proliferating quality to the work of Dr. Maya Angelou. Her literary offerings and the emotions they elicit plant themselves in our consciousness almost effortlessly, and they thrive there as if they have always been there… though unnoticed. In an act of cultural and spiritual intimacy she draws us to a most sacred place on our life-journey, and we experience a mating of ideas and ideals that leave us pregnant with the expectation of something greater for ourselves and the other selves connected to us. Her creative genius reaches deep within us and calls forth the memory of our sacred obligation to “be fruitful and multiply”. Hers is a call echoing from the Eden of our very beginnings. It is a call to new dreams, and new hopes, and a new vitality. She encourages us to revise and refine and redefine who we are and who we would be. In that respect Maya Angelou joins the Jesuses and the Kings and the Mandelas and the Oprahs and the Marleys, in engendering an ongoing work of renewal among us.

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