The Good Fight for Freedom

SANKOFA:

“Reach back and reclaim what is lost in order to move forward and plan for the future”

On Saturday, July 28th, my husband and I will embark on a one week civil rights tour to Atlanta and Alabama. The “Just Mercy Civil Rights Tour,” is hosted by Museum without Walls (www.museumwithoutwalls.org). Our group leader and organizer is Ms. Suzzanne Lacey.  We will be traveling with a racially diverse group of about thirty individuals, from three different churches, who are interested in expanding their knowledge of civil rights history, while exploring themes of oppression, white privilege, and mass incarceration. We will also discuss what it means to move towards racial reconciliation, especially in the era of our current administration. This is going to be an exciting and emotional experience for all of us.  I recently began reading John Lewis’ book, “Walking with the Wind”, about his experience in the Civil Rights movement.  Simply reading the opening pages, I became filled with emotion (and we have not even left Seattle yet)! In preparation for the tour, our group is reading the book, “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, which describes in detail the tragic toll of mass incarceration on African Americans and other minorities. I have to give a shout out to my son, Jerrell, who wrote a poignant spoken word piece titled, “Cell Blocks like Slave Ships (CBSS), which speaks of how African Americans have gone from being shackled in chains during slavery to being shackled in prison cell blocks at an alarming rate. A few years ago, he performed the piece live at Seattle Pacific University, sharing the stage with Bryan Stevenson. The book and the song (CBSS) encourage us to care about this new form of slavery which author Michelle Alexander calls “The New Jim Crow”.  Last weekend, I had my nose deep in John Lewis’s book, while Bob Marley’s Redemption Song, played softly in the background. As Marley sang, “these songs of freedom, all I ever have, redemption songs”, the tears slowly trickled down my face.  I was totally tuned in to John Lewis’ childhood experience of being in the middle of a storm at a very young age, having to literally walk with his family to each corner of their house the wind pulled up from the ground. As they “walked with the wind”, they kept their house from flying away.  He explains that we too, must walk with the wind, fighting together to battle racism, discrimination and every assault on our humanity.

We are excited to share in this historical tour, to learn and experience just a small part of what our people went through during the civil rights movement. It is because of their sacrifice that I am here today. I plan to share more with you as we travel to the places where Martin Luther King Jr. preached about freedom, where four little girls in Birmingham tragically lost their lives in a church bombing, where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and helped start the Montgomery bus boycott, and where blacks and whites marched together over the Edmund Pettus bridge. I hope to learn how I can continue to fight the good fight for freedom. I hope you will continue your good fight as well. In continuing this fight for freedom, I think it is important to turn our hearts to what God has to say about HOW we are to act during the fight. Sometimes, we just want to “be right” about our feelings, and forget about godliness. In Romans 12:18,  the scripture tells us “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with EVERYONE.” Martin Luther King, Jr. did get it right.  God does not give anyone, not me or you, the right to hate another person He has created. It might be a tough pill to swallow, but if we go back to the word of God, you will find it is true.

In closing, I am reminded how music has always helped to soothe and sustain our souls through our journey to freedom, so I compiled a list to sustain us on this trip. This is a short list of songs about revolution, unity, consciousness, and peace that will give us encouragement, strength and joy for our journey.  If your song of freedom is not listed, feel free to send me your song.

Songs of Freedom:

  1. Redemption Song – Bob Marley
  2. Keep on Pushin’ – The Impressions
  3. What’s Goin On – Marvin Gaye
  4. Get Up, Stand Up – Bob Marley
  5. We’re A Winner – The Impressions
  6. Keep your Head to the Sky – Earth, Wind & Fire
  7. Imagine – John Lennon
  8. Wake Up Everybody – Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes
  9. Fight the Power – Isley Brothers
  10. Fight the Power – Public Enemy
  11. Wade in the Water – Mary Mary
  12. Stand – Donnie McClurkin
  13. Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now – McFadden & Whitehead
  14. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gil Scott Heron
  15. Livin’ For the City – Stevie Wonder
  16. Lean on Me – Bill Withers
  17. CBSS Cell Blocks Like Slaveships – Rell B Free
  18. Glory – John Legend & Common
  19. We’ve Come This Far by Faith – Albert Goodson
  20. Mississippi Goddam (Whew, forgive me Jesus!) –  Miss Nina Simone

Enjoy the video “Glory” from the movie Selma:

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gregory Davis
    Jul 23, 2018 @ 03:04:08

    First class piece, clearly at passion. The song list made me wonder if Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr got some tape singing. Anybody know?
    Proud of you Shawn!

    Reply

  2. Melody Bickhem
    Jul 23, 2018 @ 15:11:17

    Wonderful piece cousin Shawn! Have a fantastic trip! I hope you and Gregory and your group all experience the love for humanity and justice that the activists had during their long journey to and fight for freedom and respect for all people, especially those who were considered inferior and less than deserving of it. It will be painful and joyful. Prayerfully more joy than pain. Much love to you all. Traveling mercies to you is my prayer. Melody Ann Marion Bickhem

    Reply

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