Summary: An African American Perspective - Black History Month Program February 2008

An Afro-American Perspective - Black History Month Program February 2008


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

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