150 Then 50 Years Ago and Today

On one of the coldest Thursdays of Detroit in 2009.  I took to the road with #19 on our way to Washington DC for the Inaugural Festivities for the historical election of our 44th President Barack H. Obama.  Bundled to the point of no return we endured the elements and participated in the whole weekend.  Due to the fact that all my emotions poured out on that election day in November when he won.  That day was all about witnessing the moment.  I did not choose to go this year but on this day several things have stood out in my mind as I reflect on the history of this great land and Black people.  Forgive me if you are offended by my terminology.  Saying African-American has never appealed to me.

It was 150 years ago, 1863, when the great President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation: (just a small piece of it)


That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.  And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.  And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages. And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.  And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.    Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.

By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN                                                                                                                                                                             WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State

Okay, so it was almost the whole thing but I really couldn’t restrain myself as I read the words.  This was brought to my attention through a recent trip to see the Oscar nominated movie Lincoln and the outstanding performance by Daniel Day Lewis.  As the grand-daughter of sharecroppers, 4 generations from slavery I shed a tear as I reflected on the history of MY people.  Then as I prepared to watch the inauguration via comfort of my bed and warm house I realized it’s MLK Day and at the opposite side of the capital stands the Lincoln Memorial which is where 50 years ago Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famed “I Have A Dream” speech.

“Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

Martin and Washington

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.”

It seems that history has led us here to this moment in time.  The theme of this inauguration was “Faith inAmerica’s future” which seems to be something that we need to hold on to and move into positively.  Sure we have a long way to go, yet we’ve come so far in 200 years.  We can see this in the confirmation of our 45th President Barack Obama.

2013As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day and embrace the responsibility of our re-elected president as a nation, NOT just us minority of Black people.  Let us remember our work is never done as we move on as the campaign platform during the election suggests ~ FORWARD.  That’s the only way to move in progression, keep your smiles ready.  You never know how they can impact your possibilities and outcome.  Take in this moment in history.

Happy MLK Day from Beautifully Misunderstood.

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