Martin Luther King is a sign that God has not forsaken the United States of America. God has sent him to us.
Abraham Joshua Heschel

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Lift Every Voice and Sing
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There was a man sent from God

whose name was Martin



See John 1:6, kjv
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יובל
Jubilee

  The American Moses
Pray for Barack Obama
Martin Luther King: God's Drum Major for Justice
Lift Every Voice and Sing



"Let my people go!"

      E
שלח את־עמי

Lift every voice and sing: Play it [you.tube] balm in gilead

It was quoted at length in the benediction of Reverend Joseph Lowery at the Obama Inaugural (this Hinge Point of History). Often called "The Negro National Hymn" or "The Negro National Anthem" this moving song by James Weldon Johnson was the anthem of America's Great Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King Jr.

The theme is a gospel one, the resonance is right out of God's trombones, the tone is biblical. Redemption from Egypt, America's own Exodus experience, it is the African-American epic. Just as the biblical story of the Jewish nation begins with the formative deliverance from oppression, so also this great hymn celebrates the African-American exodus from slavery.

"Lift Every Voice and Sing" (or "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing") was publicly performed first as a poem as part of a celebration of Lincoln's Birthday on February 12, 1900 by 500 schoolchildren at the segregated Stanton School (Jacksonville, FL). Its principal, James Weldon Johnson, wrote the words to introduce its honored guest Booker T. Washington.

The poem was later set to music by Mr. Johnson's brother, John, in 1905. Singing this song quickly became a way for African Americans to demonstrate their patriotism and hope for the future. In calling for earth and heaven to "ring with the harmonies of Liberty," they could speak out subtly against racism and Jim Crow laws—and especially the huge number of lynchings accompanying the rise of the Ku Klux Klan at the turn of the century. In 1919, the NAACP adopted the song as "The Negro National Anthem." By the 1920s, copies of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" could be found in black churches across the country, often pasted into the hymnals. See Ida Wells lifts her voice.

In 1939, Augusta Savage received a commission from the World's Fair and created a 16 foot tall plaster sculpture called Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing. Savage did not have any funds for a bronze cast, or even to move and store it, and it was destroyed by bulldozers at the close of the fair.

During and after the American Civil Rights Movement, the song experienced a rebirth, and by the 1970s was often sung immediately after "The Star Spangled Banner" at public events and performances across the United States where the event had a significant African-American population.

In Maya Angelou's 1969 autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the song is sung by the audience and students at Maya's eighth grade graduation, after a white school official dashes the educational aspirations of her class.

A few links of possible interest

you.tube Story behind Black National Anthem - Elzie Odom in person

Doormat no longer: "Prophetic" Christianity - the agape love that CONFRONTS injustice

Martin Luther King, Jr. : Why FAITH trumps politics

A Hero for Our Time : Dr. King's Gospel Traditionalism

The legacy of Dr. King : his stature seems only to grow

America's Historic Religious Roots : the lower class evangelical milieu

Uncovering the nasty little secrets : Calvin Hernton and the "deeper" sociology

Spiritual Resources To Pursue : celebrating black preaching

Is America Unique? : Exclusivism, America's appointment with Destiny

Ethiopia ~ the FIRST land : were the Cushite 'burnt face' people ~ the first Hebrews?

Join in Prayer : for America's national leaders {Another site Authority is of God}

"Tell them about your dream, Martin!!" (Mahalia Jackson to Dr. King at March on Washington)

The American Moses: Martin Luther King and America's almost Judaic gospel "Hebrew" idiom

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? - arabesque (the hymn by Kahlil Gibran)

Jubilee
The biblical word (in the original Hebraic) the idea in the Torah is something of a kind of joyous, overflowing FORGIVENESS or letting go, a "fresh start"; the word is found principally in Leviticus, and nowhere in holy writ outside the Torah.



Lift Every Voice and Sing

by

James Weldon Johnson

Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, Our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our God,
True to our native land.

bob shepherd

Bob Shepherd writes:

I love this banner. To me, this is my Mount Rushmore (my other one).

Isn't it what history is all about? A spiritual dimension and a moral dimension. The content of our character. Anyway that's how it seems to me.

We love our Founders (and we should). But these moral giants are also our Founders. The Constitution is "secular" and "godless" but somehow there also has to be mercy and compassion and justice. (Don't call it socialistic. It truly is what it is all about.)

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