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Monday, April 6, 2015

The New Black Voice

I don’t want to misrepresent myself in this, there has never been a time when a single voice has spoken for all black people. Whether we look back to the time of the Civil War and slavery, blacks have always found themselves on both sides of the argument.  Although they did not represent a large percentage of the Confederate force, about 3000 men, Blacks did indeed fight for the South.

As a fourth grade student one of my first heroes was the great reformer Fredrick Douglas who counseled with presidents and spoke on behalf of the Women's Suffrage movement and even he had his detractors.  Moving forward we had the opposing voices of Booker T. Washington and those of the Harlem Renaissance such as W.E.B. Du Bois  that complained that Washington's pace was too slow. But even in that, the voices in the wind were divided: The Nonviolent Cry of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. contrasted against the militant voice of Malcolm X. All that to be said, we have never had just one voice.

As a child during the height of the Black Power Movement, I remember sitting in a meeting where the  keynote speaker, Mayor Johnny Ford, spoke on the importance of education. His sentiment was captured in a quote burned into the mind of a 6 year-old boy, "You're walking around town with your fist in the air. You've got nothing in your hand, nothing in your head, and nothing in your pocket."  What a far cry from what we hear now, in that it is someone else's responsibility to fix and care for our communities.

So looking forward, I find myself wondering where the new Black Voice will arise. A voice calling for personal growth, true spiritual sensitivity, and an ownership of ourselves and our families. I've heard it said and I must say I agree, "The government has done to the black man what the slave master and plantation never could; we have given over control of ourselves and families to the unseen but omnipresent personality of "The Man."

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