The journey is not over. Forty-nine years ago in Washington D.C., Dr. Martin Luther King stood before a countless number of God's children, some black, some white, some Jew, some Gentile; but all God's children - and told them of his personal dream. This dream was both a stern plea and humble demand that the country of black men's captivity and oppression would no longer be our tormentor, task master, or executioner. Almost a half century ago, this day was just the beginning of the journey. It was from this movement that blacks, by our own blood, sweat, and tears, began to take hold of freedoms from a nation that was hesitant to relinquish them.
Fifty years past that momentous movement of liberty, many African-Americans were still in a state of oppression and bondage. No longer are our oppressors white men with sheets over their faces, unjust racist political figures, or crippling Jim Crow laws. A half-century removed from our civil rights victory and our lives have fallen into a pit of moral and spiritual poverty. The black man has been marginalized and shackled by chains of his own making while finding himself in a voluntary exodus from the Promised Land that he was so near to embracing. As painful as it is, I as a black man consider it a moral responsibility and an absolute necessity to expose our own shame of iniquity.
We were brought to this country to sow and reap the land and we have done this; from the cotton fields in Atlanta, Georgia to the sugarcane fields in New Orleans. For centuries America denied us our God given promise which states, "Whatever a man sows, that shall he reap." We did not reap the benefits of this nation's prosperity or the wages we were owed. We did not reap the success of our hard toil or the fruit of our labor. Therefore it was necessary by the sowing of our own blood in struggle, peaceful resistance, and protest, that we would begin to reap the change that was so desperately needed. The movement that transpired 50 years ago was only the first harvest of our reaping.
Yet now, both exasperated from our labor and negligent in our diligence, we have ceased from sowing those same seeds of sacrifice, discipline, and progress. We have blamed others for not sowing for us in this vast land of freedom and opportunity. As the Prophet says, we have "sown the wind, and reaped a whirlwind." We have come to a crossroads. A decision must be made as to which direction we will go. We can choose to look back at the injustice done to us by past generations and transfer that pain on to every white face we see; we can lay down in the moral filth that is stagnation, finding our pleasure in the carnality of thug life and sexual promiscuity, all the while destroying the black family; or by faith we can move forward towards the Promised Land, no matter how long it takes us to get there.
It would be foolish to not realize the urgency of our situation. At this moment we have more than 2 million of our fathers, brothers, and sons, in bondage because of their own sinful injustice. We have little black boys’ and girls’ vocabulary shrinking as their minds lose the very meaning of the terms father and daddy. We have black women who no longer know what it means to be a woman - herself too lost in an identity crisis - because of the absence of mature and worthy black men. This situation is becoming critical as media now profits off our despair, dismay, and damnation. This is not the way things should be.
This should be our consolation in the midst of our tribulation: there is a war being waged for the souls of black men. This war is being fought in heaven and on earth. It is being fought by every underpaid teacher that stays after school late until the beautiful black boy gets it. It is being fought by Cease Fire Chicago with each intervention that causes someone to put down the gun. It is being fought by every mother who prays for her son behind bars and it is being fought by every no-name inner city pastor who goes door to door seeking to share the good news. Most importantly, it is being fought by a wounded Jew who sits at the right hand of God, incessantly interceding for his wayward sheep to return to their shepherd.
The portrayals of media, the negative statistics, and even what we may see on our street corners should not lead us to believe that no progress is being made. On the contrary, we have come farther than we think. Much farther, as this is evidenced by our own President. But we must not become content or become satisfied so long as there is one child that does not have a father figure in their life, one black female does not know what real masculinity is, and so long as media seeks to feed an unborn generation the seeds of its own mass destruction. We must not become content until the journey is finished.
The journey is not over. We must continuing walking, no matter how slow or tedious the journey seems to be, we must continue. Revival is before us.
For those who wonder what this Promised Land will look like, according to the Prophet Malachi it will look like this:
“He [God] will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers." It will be a land in which the hearts of the fathers and the hearts of the children will be changed forever. No longer will there be the sting of separation, abandonment, neglect…but this land will be rich with reconciliation, flowing with forgiveness, and showered by the springs of security.
In this Promised Land, the heart of the black father will no longer be able to turn away from his children or think that all is well because he sends a few dollars every other month. Yes, in this Promised Land, the heart of the black father will no longer be abusive. It will no longer force young sons to wear the cloak of false masculinity. It will no longer degrade his children’s mother, thus setting a pattern of misogyny in the child's life. No. In that day, the heart will be changed. It will not be frozen in the posture of apathy or indifference. It will no longer take out feelings of societal castration in the sexual abuse of our children. The father's heart will no longer find pleasure in the hedonistic sea of lust through pornography or degrading music that chokes out our care and concern for our children. It will no longer live vicariously through the enemies of black culture all because they are enslaved by the images of the same dead presidents that killed our ancestors.
Yes. This is what the Promised Land will look like. In this Promised Land, black children's hearts will give to their fathers trust and adoration. Gone will be the days of rebellious and disobedient children, acting out their parental discontent through violence, sexual promiscuity, and drug usage. The heart will be changed, no longer acting as an autonomous entity, convinced of the lie that they are the master of their fate and the captain of their salvation.
What about the hearts of those adult children? Will they still neglect their parents and grandparents of advanced age? It will not be so in the Promised Land. Tender mercy will be the fruit given to parents - even those who were the most egregious in the care of their children. This is what the Promised Land will look like.
There are some who have grown weary of rhetoric. Many speeches have been made, meetings have been called, and interventions have been done. Black America has become disenfranchised with their leaders - even the well-intended. There are some who have fought for progress in your communities, shouting from the rooftops for change. Some have fought with the ballot, believing that the right party or person could usher in a new era of hope for the black community. Others have stormed heaven with their prayers, fasting and weeping day and night, hoping that God might pour out the former and latter rain of revival upon a people so desperately parched by life's drought. We owe a debt of gratitude to all of these wounded warriors.
Soldiers, please do not stop the fight. You may be weary, but victory will be won. Though we are still far, we are closer than we have ever been. We will gain strength from looking back and seeing how far we have come. From the plantation, to the pulpit, to the presidency, we have come very far. The journey is not over. Not until every black man behind prison walls can look into the mirror and say "I am free." The journey is not over, until our black women can proudly boast of their marriage to a man whose character is not defined by his color.
No it is not over until the house of God is filled with black men who love and obey God, and are able to sincerely pray,
“Our Father, which art in heaven, hallow be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done. On earth, as it is heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever. Amen”
This journey is not over. How do we get there? By faith. As Dr. King told us: "With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.
With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day." A change is going to come for black men. By faith in God, I believe it. But until then, the journey is not over.