We have gathered here today to lament the loss of one of the greatest forces in our country, the pride of the strong black community. There was a time in this nation that black pride lived and breathed through the people who practiced it, grew and dwindled with the struggles they faced, and strengthened the resolve of its followers. That time has passed.
Your life was shorter than many could have imagined, beginning with your hushed infancy in the fields of the South where you were quieted and hidden through the use of song and small shows of resistance against the harsh acts of unfairness. Where you gave courage to many to run from those that wished to strike down the building frustration and your influence. Where you gave the resolve to withstand the pain that resulted from that courage. You built a railroad manned by a rainbow of people who risked their lives to help blacks move from the chains of bondage to freedom. People who refused to believe any human was property.
We regret the loss of the vigor you had in your rambunctious teenage years of activism, boycotts, and everyday heroes/heroines striving and struggling to finally make this country OUR country too. We will miss the power of purpose you gave to one tired lady to not give up her seat, to one brave man to lead millions to equality, and to the plethora of people that you gave a renewed sense of humanity. You taught us then to love one another, help, support, and care for each other6. Remorse weighs heavy in my heart to know that the spirit of those days are now gone.
Today we see your longtime work being sacrificed and squandered on frivolities that even fifty short years ago you would never have seen as important. Big cars, gold chains, rap dreams, and drug games have overtaken all that you have fought for. The chance at an education is bypassed for ‘gettin’ money’ on the streets, the right to vote is brushed off as a chore and annoyance, and even the pride you instilled in our ancestors for owning things of their own has been replaced with a greed that makes us steal…even from one another.
The pride we had in you, black community, has possibly waned to the point of no return, now we don’t ask the sweet chariot to swing low; all we beg is that the closest ass drops it to the floor, that we stack racks on racks. We had a dream, but no longer do we know what it was, or where it went. Even in the darkest hours you were there to tell us no matter the problems, ignorance, or hate that we faced we could and WOULD rise above it and continue our march towards greatness. But do we still rise? It seems like we don’t. So many wallow in self-pity, and blame the world for the lack of ambition from our new generations.
We no longer refer to one another as brother and sister; we have given up our sense of community to concentrate on the individual even while too many individuals are heading down the wrong path with no community to pull them off of it. We are afraid of each other. We are no longer a village who will talk to all children about their bad behavior and share this information with one another. We know that our children may be armed and that their parents may be armed. We have seen the attacks on neighbors, teachers and church family. We are afraid. And with that fear, we have lost the courage that rose through you in our ancestors.7
Family was such an important part of you. Gatherings, picnics, visiting with the neighbors, and knowing the names of all those in the community was natural. Children did not want to grow up to disappoint you. But to have pride we must have shame. We are now a shameless community. More of our men and women are in prison than in colleges. Our youth cannot speak a sentence without uttering profanities because it is how their family speaks. Parents do drugs in front of their children and sacrifice their children’s nutrition to score more dope. Shame. Our son’s wear their pants low to their knees and our daughters—and their mothers—dress like hookers. Shame. We even post our horrible behavior on the internet for all to see for eternity8. We have lost our shame as we have sadly lost you.
There are those who believe that you can rise again. People like Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelo and Colin Powell. People like my 86 year old grandparents who are still active members of a community they have seen dwindle. People like the few but proud black college students who strive and struggle to make the grade. People who want us all to be successful; to be proud again. But those people must become louder than those who don’t want to see you resurrected.
I pray that one day I will see you rise again dear friend. I pray that one day you will be reinstalled in every aspect of our communities’ lives and that you will grow stronger than before with such drive that it surpasses every expectation, shatters every misconception, and launches you to a new platform of veneration.
Until that day, you will be missed, black pride, may you rest in peace.