A well known spiritual song starts out with a stanza that says, "I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free, His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me." As a Black man in America close to seventy, I have seen the world change. I believe we should not forget the past and celebrate the milestones we reach as we look toward tomorrow.
Each year Black America celebrates Black History Month by remembering the contributions that Black America has given to America. What we don't take in to account is what has been taken from us that helped make us strong. In fact, we try to forget about it because it is past and it is part of what has made us a strong race. A message I heard once is fitting for this occasion. The message takes a text from Dr. Jeremiah Wright's great book, What Makes You So Strong." It talks about Samson and Delilah's question to him, "What makes you so strong Samson? The message then asks the question "What makes you so strong Black man?" The message says that Black men have been messed on, messed over, walked on and walked over and yet we still stand. And still the question comes, "What makes you so strong? We know that like the sparrow we stand because we have been made strong by God's watching over us. The message goes on to say that the Black man has been segregated, discriminated against, imprisoned for next to nothing, and passed over for promotions by less qualified.
We were more often than not the last hired and the first fired. And yet in the midst of it all, we produced Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglas, Dr. Benjamin Mays from Morehouse and Ray Charles who taught us to be Black and proud. We also produced a Barack Obama who had the audacity to hope and who captured the moment because he learned from Dr. King that sometimes there comes a moment that equals the fierce urgency of now.
Locally, the question is still, "What makes you so strong to produce a Fred Valentine who picked up the mantle of business from his Uncle Woods and extended Woods-Valentine Mortuary's years to over eighty? What made the leadership of Metropolitan Baptist Church so strong that in the midst of all they had to endure over the years they built an institution that stands for the Glory of God over 100 years later? As for the Journal and our relatively short twenty years, the inspiration and support of the Valentines and those at Metropolitan, and the support of volunteers, advertisers and God's favor is what has made us strong. Because we can't forget, we celebrate with and for those who have helped us stay strong.