Today I wanted to do something different. Since my friend Roland Burris will become the next junior U.S. Senator from the state of Illinois today, becoming the only African-American in the Senate of the 111th Congress, as well as the advent of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of the United States, I thought this would be a good time to reflect.
Therefore, I am reprinting an essay that I did for Mississippi Public Broadcasting in 2005. It is short because it was read on the air, but in this atmosphere, I felt it was appropriate to place it on this blog at this time.
Now, I present to you "The Essence of Who We Are Now":
The essence of who we are now is found in our past. The past explains to us why we are continuing the struggle and where it started. The past explains to us why progress is slow and how we can measure it. The past explains why we work so hard to attain equality and respect and how close we are to those goals comparatively.
It is important to understand our past so we can truly understand why education is the passport to our future. It is important to understand our past so we can truly understand why America has defaulted on its promissory note. It is important to understand the past so we can truly understand that freedom is not free.
Our history teaches us why we thank God for the weary years and the silent tears. Our history teaches us the significance of how we got over. Our history teaches us the value of the Northern Star and the Underground.
Our story is not just about glorifying heroes. It is also about reflection and meditation. It defines what has been revolting and what has been revolution. It clarifies actions affirmed from affirmative action.
We are a people that should never be subject to shame of who we are. History provides that backbone to help us stand upright in all pending adversity. History is our moral compass to guide us to that ultimate promise of America: malice toward none and justice for all. History gives us the foundation to demand life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a world that does not offer it freely.
In order for us to embrace our future in America without fear, we must embrace our past with due reverence. The essence of who we are now is found in our past.