50 Rings

bellringing

Yesterday at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, I rang our church bells 50 times – one ring for each of the years since The March on Washington was held in 1963 (when I was just three years old).  I found myself getting choked up as I rang the bells and counted the number of each ring in my head, praying for those who have worked so hard for so many for so long so that freedom may indeed ring across our great nation.

During Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech at the original March on Washington, King quoted from the patriotic hymn, “My Country ’tis of Thee.”  King implored those present to indeed, “let freedom ring” from the hilltop, mountain and valley of every state in the nation.

When we allow freedom to ring – when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, free at last, great God almighty, we are free at last,’ said King as hundreds of thousands listened then and listen now. Let freedom ring.

We’ve come a long way, haven’t we? It’s true, we have. But, I know we all agree, we still have a whole lot further to go. Yesterday’s celebration remembering that March on Washington is a great opportunity for all of us to ask ourselves how are we doing in terms of celebrating each individual’s rights and freedoms. Are we as diverse as God is? Are we as welcoming as we say we are? Do we defend and advocate for all?

A fictionalized biography on the life of Harriet Tubman, attributes Harriet as saying:

If you are tired, keep going;

If you are scared, keep going;

If you are hungry, keep going;

If you want to taste freedom, keep going.


Sage advice for those of us who are deep into working for equality for all. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. It’s happening.

Peace friends,

Chuck

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1 Comment

  • Mary-Margaret Green says:

    When my youngest son (now 30) was 16, we toured the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. On the outside, it still looks like an old-style motel from the ’40s or ’50s, but with a wreath on the balcony to what was MLK’s room. The inside has been gutted and turned into the National Civil Rights Museum. Visitors are taken through a powerfully presented history of the civil rights movement. i wanted my son, who took it for granted that his friends were black, white, Hispanic and Middle Eastern, to understand what some people had gone through to make that possible. However, I was more affected than him because what was being portrayed was so different from his reality that it could have happened eons ago, while many of the biggest events had happened during my lifetime. Yes, we have a way to go, but we’ve traveled a great distance in a relatively short time. I’m optimistic about continued improvement.

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