Children stand at the mic in front of the entire congregation as cameras flash, video cameras record, family and friends watch and cheer. We hear speech after speech about Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King Jr., Fredrick Douglass and President Barack Obama. The youth perform skits about the historic sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, plays about the
freedom rides through the South and the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. At my home church, Pilgrim Community Church UCC in San Francisco, we remember those who paved the way. We bring them back to life to hear their stories, struggles and victories once again.
Dressed in African attire, young and old, we try to reach back to a time none of us lived. Yet, we feel the pain of our ancestors. We shed tears and we shout Hallelujah, thank you Jesus, God you did it for them, and we know that you’ll do it for us.
I miss hearing sermons about how our people got over and survived struggle after struggle, war after war and how together they got through a time such as this. A time when we must speak truth to power. A time we must stand together as a people and sing “We shall not, we shall not be moved.” A time when we help our brothers and sisters who are being told that they are no longer welcome here in America.
The month of February in most Black churches is when we focus on our history, Black/African-American History. We remember our ancestors and those who paved the way for us to be who we are today. February is a special time set aside for my people to reflect on how our ancestors pressed towards the mark, from Exodus to the present. We have overcome one thing after another. Therefore every Sunday, but especially the Sundays in Black History Month, we are encourage to “Hold on, Just a little while longer, Hold on…” We are reminded, by song writer Ron Kenoly’s lyrics, that we can make a difference.
If You can use anything Lord, You can use me.
Take my hands, Lord and my feet,
Touch my heart, Lord and speak through me.
If You can use anything Lord. You can use me.
These are the things that I miss during my time away from my home church. As I traveled throughout the Conference in February, I heard no mention of Black History. No speeches, no recognition, no songs of, “We shall overcome some day.”
Yes, February is the time of Epiphany and the lectionary is filled with hope and change, with themes of Restoring Beauty; From the Heart – Radical Justice Sunday; Expanding Boundaries; and Dazzling Reign. Yet, February is also a time to honor those who spoke truth to power and marched for change. Lest we forget them during this Black History month that has been set aside for them.