To the people who devoted their lives to struggling for the civil rights of all Americans

I offer my modest and presumptuous thanks. Thanks to the people who inspired each other and us with their vision, to the great speakers and organizers, to every person who supported their efforts with their prayers, to the janitors and cleaning women without number, thanks to everyone who scraped coins together for a child to go to school, for everyone who studied hard to change the world, everyone who walked into an unfriendly educational institution, for everyone who stood and stands in the way of the daily violence we call racism, for everyone who repented of violence or discrimination and tried and tries to the see the world in a new way, for everyone who tries harder.

We’ve got a long way to go, still, and I see how long that distance is every day on my campus and in the street, but I still fervently hope and believe the U.S. can be a society of freedom for all of us. Happy Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to all Americans. And here’s a song for all of us.

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[Lyrics by James Weldon Johnson]

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

~ by Servetus on January 20, 2014.

7 Responses to “To the people who devoted their lives to struggling for the civil rights of all Americans”

  1. Amen.

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on the armitage effect and commented:
    In honor of Martin Luther King Day in the US, and the continued effort to establish racial equality and harmony. Don’t let the dream die.

    Like

  3. Thank you Servetus. I loved singing along with the choir. It brought tears to my eyes.

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  4. This is such an amazing song and it was written around 1900 — such a tone of optimism even though things were still so unreasonably difficult for Black Americans.

    Like

  5. […] years ago, I blogged one of my favorite songs in honor of the day. Lately, I don’t feel like singing. Since this weekend, I’ve been […]

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  6. […] this spring. Both were in the same Library of America voume. I knew the author primarily as the lyricist of the song “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” but he filled his life with many more achievements as theater artist, U.S. ambassador to […]

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  7. […] a lot of this imagery and music for itself was chilling and nauseating. I also heard “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” and I hope that continues to be included in our national musical […]

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