Let Us Listen
Shirley Chisolm, Mary McLeod Bethune, Fannie Lou Hamer, and W.E.B. Dubois are individuals you may have heard of as influential in the history of racial justice struggles in the United States. If nothing else, we all know of Martin Luther King, Jr. and are familiar with the words from the final minutes of his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech from 1968. The ideas, actions and lives of these African Americans scaffolded the struggle for justice in the United States. These are all people we should hear from directly—in their own words—listening to their distinct voices through audio recordings, watching their speeches and gestures in high school history class. Their stories should have been included in our library programs, our Sunday school classes, and as illustrations in sermons from the pulpit. But they were not. Maybe, like me, you have heard of some of these great freedom fighters, but have yet to hear from them.
It is my #PROTESTIMONY that I went too many years without hearing these voices. I mourn what I might have already understood and accomplished had these inspirational words met my ears before now. I also rejoice in the technology that allows me to access so many of these great minds speaking in their own voices these many years later. So today my #PROTESTIMONY is listening to the voices of the past (and some from the present) who have much to say to us as justice-loving, people-loving, Jesus-following Christians. Today my #PROTESTIMONY is listening to the words of Black Christians (and others) who have been ignored, vilified, forgotten, or misunderstood. I listen with openness and curiosity, knowing that it may bring up feelings and thoughts that compel me to read, search, converse, listen, and pray.
I listen, even if I disagree, feel uncomfortable, or don’t understand. Isn’t that the least we can do for each other? Simply listen?
Would you listen with me today? Spend time today* thinking on these good, true, noble, right, lovely, pure, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy words (Philip. 4:8). Wrestle with them. Meditate on them. Leave a comment, tweet, or Facebook us and let us know what stood out for you.
*The playlist changes daily throughout Black History Month, so if you can’t find the playlist of Black leaders and great orators, search individual names to listen to speeches and interviews.