An Afro-American Perspective - Black History Month Program February 2008
HOPE THAT WE CAN BELIEVE IN
Titus 1:2; 2:13
by Reverend Kelvin L. Parks
at Shiloh Baptist Church
Waukegan, IL on Sunday, 24 February 2008
Hope that we can believe in
As I was preparing myself to speak to you this morning, I pondered on numerous occasions as to what I would say to you.
Although, I done this before ... I still find these types of speeches a bit challenging.
Why challenging ... well for starters how can I, someone who was not born during the days of segregation or during the Jim Crow Era even begin to pontificate the struggles that so many of you endured during your lifetime.
During my preparations, I began to thank God that I was born in March 1968. I thank God today that my eyes never had the opportunity to see...
- separate drinking fountains for whites and blacks
- colored balconies in movie theaters
- laws which required blacks folk to sit on the back of buses
Maybe I am just too young to understand the pain that some of you and many of our ancestors felt when they could not eat at certain lunch counters, register to vote, or buy property wherever they choose.
I think I need to set the record straight ... I do not stand here today ... with the intent of giving you a litany of events or quotes about American’s dark past. I will allow the bloodstains of history reveal America’s guilt and shame.
However, I do stand to tell you that there is hope -- that we can believe in
As I pondered and reflected on my own life, I began to realize ... that this task is not difficult because even though I was not around during those before mentioned times, I realized that I still have a perspective.
Although, this body never felt the pressured water from a fire hoses, nor felt the bite of a German Shepard’s teeth. There still is hope that I can believe in.
Truth of the matter ... I thought as a young lad, growing up in Chattanooga, Tennessee that freedom was just that “free.”
Then I discovered that nothing in life is free. The Salvation that I so freely enjoy cost my Savior Jesus His life on Calvary. The right to vote cost thousands their blood, sweat and tears. Standing up for justice cost Dr. Martin Luther King his life on a balcony in Memphis.
So as I reflected, I have no choice but to thank God for people who paved the way like Dr. King who was willing to risk his life to combat social injustice and to enhance the welfare of others.
Although I am able to enjoy and personally, witness pieces of Dr. King’s dream become a reality in my life ... I also realize that the 21st century continues to be a challenging time.
You do not believe me ... just ask my daughter how she was welcome into the Maine Public School System, a state where blacks’ only make-up 0.8% of the population.
Not even, a month of being in Brunswick Jr. High School did a little white girl scream racial epithet at her and called her everything but a child of God.
Yes, I got mad ... then sadly to say, what this young white girls called my daughter pails in comparison to what African American males are calling each other and young black women these days.
There is an old Negro spiritual, which says ... We shall overcome someday.
Well I am waiting on that someday, when I can send my child to school and not have worry about whether another child is being taught to be a racist at home.
I am waiting for that someday ... that I do not have to worry about whether or not my child, whom we are preparing for college, will not be shot down by a jealous boyfriend, or shot down because she is a Christian or because she is not of the right ethnicity by some derange or disgruntle student.
Yes, the hymnologist declares that we shall overcome someday ... but from the looks of things, so far it appears that we have overcome some hurdles only to be shackles by other obstacles:
- like sub-prime mortgages
- record number of foreclosed homes
- inequality of our black men in the penal system
- our neighborhoods filled with drugs
- parks with no beaches
- basketball ball courts with no rims
- and the list goes on and on ...
You see ... Shiloh these are but a few examples, which indicate that our work is not yet done; the struggle has not ended!
- Yes, water hoes and dogs may be a thing of the pass ... but the threats and intimidation of nooses still exists today
- Jim Crow Laws - no ... separate and unequal yes
- Segregation no ... but the have and the have not (s) -- yes
- Governor Wallace no ... but racial profiling and crooked state / district attorneys yes
But there is hope that we can believe in
- Jesse Jackson proclaims that we should keep this hope alive
- Barrack Obama likes to refer to it as the audacity of hope
But I personally prefer the Apostle Paul’s perspective about hope, which he refers to as the hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.
You see, I like the Apostle Paul’s perspective because he reminds us in Titus 2:13-14 that this is a hope that we can look for...Listen to what Paul said
[v.13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ;
[v.14] Who gave himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Well, speaking of good works...
I challenge you to continue to hope, continue to stand-up for change, and continue to do what is right.
Dr. King once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Dr King went on to say, “The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others.”
Which simple means ... don’t just dare to be different -- but live to MAKE A DIFFERENCE in someone else’s life.
So, the question that I have for each of you is ...what are YOU going to do to make a difference in our community?
But before you answer that, I would like to share with you something that I am sure you have heard before. Nevertheless, I think it is fitting for this moment.
It is entitled “The Cold Within”
- Six humans trapped by happenstance in black and bitter cold
- Each possessed a stick of wood, Or so the story is told.
- Their dying fire in need of logs, the first woman held hers back
- For one of the faces around the fire She noticed was black.
- The next man looking cross the way Saw no one from his church
- And could not bring himself to give The fire his stick of birch.
- The third one sat in tattered clothes He gave his coat a hitch,
- Why should my log be put to use To warm the filthy rich?
- The rich man just sat back and thought Of the wealth he had in store,
- And how to keep what he had earned From the lazy, shiftless poor.
- The black man’s face bespoke revenge As the fire passed from his sight,
- For all he saw in his stick of wood Was a chance to spite the white.
- And the last man of this forlorn group Did nothing except for gain,
- Giving only to those who gave Was how he played the game.
- The logs held tight in death’s stilled hands Was proof of human sin,
- You see ... they did not die from the cold without, This group died from the cold within.
Brothers and sisters ... our lives and the lives of our children do not have to be like these six individuals. Your actions as well as your inactions ... will determine the course of their future.
As I prepare to take my seat, I remind you that there is hope that we can believe in.
This hope happens when you...
- Decide to help somebody rise from despair on the wings of hope by putting a little love in your heart.
Oh yes, this is a hope that we can believe in -- This hope happens when you...
- Decide to make a difference in our communities, in our neighborhoods, in our cities and in our state, when we put down hatred and pickup love.
So let us continue to remember the widowed and orphan, the homeless and the hungry.
Because ... this is hope that we can believe in...
Let me tell you why I have hope. I have hope because the terrible situation that happened to my daughter a few years ago gave me hope.
It gave me hope because as deplorable as that situation may have been ... I have hope because it was not my daughter that told the principle what she was enduring, but it was the other white children who witnessed it and determined that what she was going through was not right.
So it was the children ... who decided to stand up for right ... even when the decision may have not been popular.
So that tells me that if our children are willing to stand up for justice; stand up for freedom; and stand up for righteousness ... then we [adult] can do the same.
My brothers and my sister this is hope that we can truly believe in...