The image above was taken in the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King preached, at the moment the networks called Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 Presidential election.
Bob Herbert in The New York Times writes of 4 November:
It can be easy in such a moment of triumph to lose sight of the agony
wrought by the unrelieved evil of racism and to forget how crucial a
role anti-black racism played in shaping American life since the first
slaves were dumped ashore 400 years ago.
Blacks have been holding fast to the promise of America for all that
time. Not without anger. Not without rage. But with a fidelity that in
the darkest moments — those moments when the flow of blood seemed like
it would never stop, when enslaved families were wrenched apart, when
entire communities were put to the torch, when the breeze put the
stiffened bodies of lynched victims in motion, when even small children
were murdered and Dr. King was taken from us — even in those dire
moments, African-Americans held fast to the promise of America with a
fidelity that defied logic.
The multiracial crowds dancing with unrestrained joy from coast to
coast on Tuesday night were proof that the promise of America lives —
and that you can’t always hang your hat on logic.
We probably shouldn't forget that the epic of hope lived out by black
America was rooted in faith. White America, in its hypocrisy and
complacency, believed that converting black slaves to Christianity
would reconcile them to their “place” in “Christian” society. Even the
influential abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe turns the rebel Topsy
into a missionary at the end of Uncle Tom's Cabin and sends her off to
Africa to be with and convert “her people”.
Abolitionists saw blacks as their brothers and sister in God, but in an abstract theological sense — almost
none of them imagined, or would have accepted for a moment, blacks as fellow citizens, living in social (as opposed to political or theological) equality
with whites on American soil.
It was a different view of Christianity that elevated blacks to a sense
of absolute equality with all people everywhere, even ole massa, even the kind-hearted Harriet, and
fired them with the conviction that God, in his good time, would free
them from bondage of every kind, including the separate-but-equal kind, as he had freed the people of Israel.
Blacks took the radical message of Rabbi Jeshua bar Joseph straight,
and made a long, painful bet on his promises being fulfilled. It was
their courage and perseverance that gave the promises flesh, through
rivers of blood and generations of sacrifice, but it was the illogical
faith that made the courage and perseverance possible.
The Reverend Martin Luther King dreamed of a day when America would
“rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed” — and he wasn't
just talking about the opening words of the Declaration Of
Independence. White American Christians were and are sitting on a time
bomb, which they have tended to consistently misread as a license to preserve the
social and/or political status quo, whatever it happens to be, or to recover a status quo whose passing they regret. Black
American Christians have consistently seen deeper into the rabbi's more dynamic and subversive — and illogical — vision.
“Hope is not a strategy,” says evangelical white “Christian” Sarah
Palin. In fact, according to the rabbi's teaching, hope is the one infallible strategy. As Bob Dylan
There's a lone soldier on the cross, smoke pouring out of a boxcar door —
You didn't know it, you didn't think it could be done, in the final end he won the war
After losing every battle.