I usually don’t get too emotional about YouTube videos. Yet, one of my students sent me a link yesterday to a video that he said, “gave me the chills.” For this particular student to preface his email this way piqued my curiosity, so I clicked on it and watched. And most certainly, it was very emotional for me.
The video is a presentation of “Life Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” what many refer to as “The Black National Anthem.” The Rev. Joseph Lowery quoted from the third verse of the song during his benediction at the Inauguration on January 20, 2009 when he prayed,
“God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has 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 thee, O God, and true to our native land.”
As I watched the images, I couldn’t help but be propelled into a past that I only experienced on the surface (being born in 1964 living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin). I couldn’t help but to feel some pain knowing the injustices that were wrought on innocent people just because of the color of their skin. Yet, the video is full of images of power, in the midst of the injustices served, and in the midst of the hurt and pain I felt, I also felt proud for the progress we’ve made.
I think the video tells a powerful story. As my student shared it with me, I’d like to share it with you.