Friday, April 04, 2008

Now let us begin…

One of my favorite songs is Eyes on the Prize. The lyrics have always inspired me.

Paul and Silas, bound in jail
Had no money for to go their bail
Keep your eyes on the prize,
Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on,
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on!
The very moment we thought we was lost,
Dungeon shook and the chains fell off,
Keep your eyes on the prize,
Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on,
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on!


40 years ago today Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered. Today there will be ceremonies and services and analysis upon analysis of how far we have come and how far we have yet to go.
10 years ago today, April 4 1998, my father past away unexpectedly in Chicago. So my thoughts are for those who grieve an intimate aching grief even as they remember the extraordinary man who was their father.

The question before us is not what would have happened had Dr. King lived, but rather what we prepared to do with our inheritance.
What will we do?

Ask a young person what their dream is?

Participate in government and hold those elected to office accountable?
Vote?

Be a voice within the chorus calling for an end to this war?

Commit to fighting the war on poverty?

Support the efforts of organized labor as Dr. King planned to do on this day 40 years ago?
Our inheritance is the movement for social justice and it was purchased through the blood, sweat and tears of extraordinarily ordinary people just like us.

Only thing that we did wrong
We are a nation struggling with race, class and gender and the recent immigration battle has exposed the yet untreated infections of bigotry and fear.

Was stayin' in the wilderness so long

We are a people who hear political surrogates talk about 'black luck' while we witness black reality....who hear anti-choice advocates talk of black genocide while we witness their policy in action – HIV/AIDS infections, teen STI rates, teen pregnancy and a threat to black families that mocks the term pro-life.

Only thing that we did right
We are a nation at war that is given leaders who speak the language of patriotism but used it for the instruction of fear…our children’s children will either wonder at our tolerance or marvel at our courage.

Was the day we begun to fight!

And my dream is to be worthy of my father’s sacrifices…his military service, his activism within the movement and the years he spent taking shit from the man so that his children could have the kind of life he had been denied.

Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on!

The storm is still raging and the struggle continues...but deep in my heart I do believe.
Hold on!

Now, let us begin.

For my father, who taught his daughters that the one thing he did right was the day he started to fight.

13 comments:

WNG said...

Amen.

Stuck in my head said...

I remember in junior high school when I first saw the Eyes on the Prize series. Even then, that song really got to me. Moved me. Made me want to get up then and start to fight. To this day, I love it and think of it when I think of civil rights from that time and the civil rights issues going on today. The images they show in the film always come to mind, too.

I think it is a song that needs to be reinstated in the fight for rights of all people - racially, economically, gender-wise, sexuality-wise, etc.

The one thing we did right was the day we started to fight. Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.

Wow! Powerful. Still gives me shivers.

People don't seem like they fight for what they need and want like they used to. But I think there is hope because a lot of people still have their eyes on a prize, and are starting to realize that they can fight and can make gains.

girl with the mask said...

Beautifully put.

G.I.M x

Sarah J said...

as always, you're amazing.

I'd love to get your thoughts on CNN's 'conversation with black america' today. I blogged about it...

Anonymous said...

You rock, this is why I started reading you blog.

Laura in L.A. said...

Another beautiful and important post. Thank you.

I am sorry for the loss of your wonderful dad. I think he would be so proud to know how many people you touch and inspire with your thoughtful words.

Macon D said...

Thank you for a beautiful post. I think the legacy continues to work out in some ways we can hardly even detect, including his more radical side.

In answer to the quesiton about what to do, I think waking up white folks to their own ways is one way to do something. Not that that's the job of non-white folks. I'm one white person trying to do that.

Any suggestions for further entries at my new blog (in the Comments there) from the smart folks who visit this one would be a BIG help:

Stuff White People Do

http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/

(Sorry, I can't figure out how to make a link here!)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a beautiful memorial essay.
Stella

Yankee T said...

Bless you for posting this beautiful piece about your father...and so much more. Your father would be very proud.
I'm sorry.

terraling said...

Terific post. I've been following your blog for a month or so now, discovering it while trying to get a better handle on race in America in this vital year (American elections don't just matter to America).

Could you elaborate on something? The para: "black reality....who hear anti-choice advocates talk of black genocide while we witness their policy in action – HIV/AIDS infections, teen STI rates, teen pregnancy and a threat to black families that mocks the term pro-life".

You write as if there is a deliberate (rather than, say, shamefully neglectful) policy to undermine the black population with HIV etc etc. You really think so? Could you tell us more?

Keep up the great work (online and offline).

Dusty said...

Your dad was just as important as MLK by the way I read this..kudo's Shark Fu for a fine tribute to both men.

As for those of use still here ..and now, we must remember that all the bullshit won't stop just because it's wrong on every count. It will only stop when good people do something about it. As the old saying goes:

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

MacDaddy said...

Great post, as usual. Thank you.

I wrote an article for a black weekly here in Minneapolis suggesting that many blacks, as well as whites, don't want to be reminded of the true Dr. King: not just the King dreaming about little girls and boys holding hands but the activist and intellect opposed to war and poverty and righteous fighter for labor and social justice.

I said Dr. King described himself as "a drum major for justice...who just wants to do God's will." I told black readers to enjoy Dr. King's holiday. Barbecue; get reacquainted with neighbors while having a cold one on manicured lawns and spacious patios. But don't be surprised if an ominous spirit with deep voice walks through pillows of smoke to ask, "Are there any drum majors here?"

I think you're asking us the same thing: Where are the people whose eyes are still on the sparrow, the people holding on, fighting still?

MacDaddy said...

Laura:
"I am sorry for the loss of your wonderful dad. I think he would be so proud to know how many people you touch and inspire with your thoughtful words."

I agree. You touch many.