Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Thought of the Day
Have you ever heard of Fannie Lou Hamer? Perhaps not, but I want you to get to know her a little bit, but more importantly, read something she said some fifty-six years ago. Fannie grew up in Mississippi as a black woman who faced poverty, racial prejudice, and a lack of formal education. She worked with her husband as a sharecropper for most of her adult life. In 1963, she was arrested for protesting some of the outrageous laws and practices in Mississippi that robbed people of color basic civil rights. While in jail Fannie was beaten repeatedly and suffered injuries that remained with her the rest of her life. However, that did not stop Fannie Lou Hamer. She continued to march and protest the way things were and was invited to come to the Democratic National Convention in 1964. It was at this setting where Fannie spoke some powerful words. They were sad and most telling. After describing the pain, suffering, discrimination she and others had endured for years, simply because of the color of their skin, she said these words.
I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!
These words make my heart hurt. As a white man, I cannot begin to understand the discrimination that people of color have endured, and do endure, and will endure. In 1964 as Fannie Lou Hamer was saying these words, I was eight years old living in Henderson in east Texas. In downtown Henderson there was a five and dime store. It was a precursor, I guess, to a Walmart. It had a little bit of everything. I was in the store with my mom and in the back of the store there were two water fountains. There were signs above each fountain. One said “whites” and the other said “colored.” I was struck by this. I thought that meant that one was white water and the other was colored water. That sounded cool to me, so I went to try the colored water. I tried it and was a little disappointed because it tasted the same to me. I decided to take another sip when a man loudly told me to get away from that water fountain because “that is where the (you can guess the ugly word) drink.” I just looked at him, went to the other fountain, took a drink and walked away. Both waters tasted the same to me.
Sadly, they were not the same. It was a small way that white people could let those of color know that they were different. That they were of lower class and station in life. That they were not worthy.
Now this was 1964 and we have come a long way since that time. Unfortunately, we have not come far enough. The events over the past week or so, have shown that we still have a long way to go. I am afraid that if Fannie was alive today, she would remember her words with tears in her eyes, and just shake her head. Fannie might say these words.
It begins with me and it begins with you. It is not just a people of color problem. As people of faith, it is all of our problem. I am going to do all I can to learn more, to care more, to give more, and to get more involved. And of course, to pray more. Prayer is most important. But I know that God compels us to get involved and do all we can to help solve this problem. So, do something.
Father, we need Your help to bring justice to all Your people. Give us strength to bring about change. Amen.