L. M. O’Neal
Days of Sheriffs pursuing black men, women and children across country sides and state lines in hopes of capturing and returning them to slavery, for a bounty, have long past. No longer are there shackles around the ankles and bands of iron around wrist and necks leading the unfortunate soul into even greater bondage. These things have passed away in the United States of American. But, something much worse has taken its place.
Long hot days in fields of crops, factories absent of safety, mines awaiting another collapse – lay in the future of the black men and boys, no longer wait to claim the next forced black victim. Women and girls are no longer forced into servitude in any manner demanded by their masters and families. Yet, something worse has replaced it.
Years of meals of scraps, cloths of rags, housing for rats, transportation by foot or the most undesirable of conditions; are endured by the black man, woman and child. Being required to endure the degradations and humiliations of being insulted and thought of as unable to be educated; unfit to be medicated; unworthy to be saved. All these things are no longer, but they have been replaced by something much worse.
Gone are the days of being considered 3/5th’s a human. Gone are the days of stepping off the sidewalk because a white is approaching. Gone are the days of being required to say Yes Sir –No Sir and Yes Mame - No Mame because the person being spoken to was white, regardless of the age. Gone are the days of expecting the worst possible outcome in all matters concerning business involving none blacks, and often that was no exception. Those days are in America’s history, or are they.
Away have passed recreational lynching’s, burnings at the stake, and being torn apart by draw horses and other methods of murder, witnessed by spectators with picnic baskets, full meals and top hats for the evenings’ entertainment. Such events have been relegated to history, and replaced by a new horror and group think.
Within the records of all that has happened, all that has been recorded and not recorded, constant were the prayers to God from those oppressed and persecuted. No records exist of the number of times a murdered black man, woman or child asked God to forgive their attacker. No records exist for then - none for now.
In days of old, in the mist of oppression, blacks prayed. While shackles bound and held them fast to their station in life, they prayed. When eyes witness families being torn apart and sold off, they prayed. When torches came at night, seeking amusements in blood and pain at a slave’s expense, they prayed. When hour after hour ushered in even more work, they prayed. In times of joy and celebration, they prayed and laughed. When sadness and pain came, as it often did, they cried and prayed.
Millions prayed for a day when the load they bore would not be so heavy, so full of pain and suffering. Some prayed God would seek his vengeance on those black and white faces who captured and sold them into slavery. Many prayed for themselves, their children, their relatives and their friends. Some even prayed for their captures and tormentors. Regardless of the reason, they prayed to God. And he was listening.
When God saw fit, and in his own time, he answered so many of the prayers with a Civil War and The Emancipation Proclamation. Because of this document signed by President Lincoln, millions of slaves were suddenly and forever a free people in the United States of America.
Multitudes of black, light, white and near white faces suddenly found their prayers answered in Gods’ way. The world could not deny all were equal in the United States, yet prayers continued for equality and justice.
The under the Article 1 of the Constitution of the United States promised equality, but the 3/5th’s citizen; the new citizen was left out until passage the 14th Amendment. This was the answer to another giant prayer. Now the partial citizen was made whole and full as an American.
Yet, through the course of Americans history, there have been and still are individuals and groups determined to undermined and destroy. They use the Word of God as a tool for their own purposes. Manipulation and distortion are their decided and desired intent for any who will listen. Men and women of implied honor have proven themselves to be unfit for the respect they demand.
During times of slavery, times of war, times of feast and famine, and times of prosperity – we prayed. Intelligent men and women turned their eyes to (the) higher power and begged for mercy, not to man. Leadership and direction for the individual was sought from God, first. Leadership from man required proof of worthiness for respect.