Our Father in Heaven, and Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
I come before you this day to give thanks to you for all that you have given me in this life. I thank you for the many people, known, and unknown, who have so profoundly touched my life in so many enriching ways:
I thank you for the many people who have made America a place worth living in. I thank you for all those who devoted their lives in the struggle for freedom, and who stood up for justice, fairness, and right, even when it cost them their lives.
I thank you for the many people who refused to stand by and see wrong, after wrong, after wrong occur. I thank you for the many women and men who believed that America should be a better country, and refused to give up on that belief.
I thank you for Crispus Attucks, who fought for his freedom, and died, believing that no man had the right to enslave another, while championing their own freedom;
I thank you for the Grimke sisters, Angelina and Sarah, who were sisters in body, word, action, and spirit, for they refused to allow their Black sisters to languish in the cruelty of slavery, and who spoke up for them, boldly, and resolutely;
I thank you for Frederick Douglas who was a beacon of reason and steadfastness, as he pricked the conscious of a nation that would rather have turned away from the cries of her enslaved Black children; Frederick, who would rather unite with anybody to do right than with nobody to do wrong.
I thank you for Harriet Tubman, who was a general in every way, leading so many of her fellow enslaved Black people out of bondage, at great risk to herself;
I thank you for Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser, who struck a blow against the humiliation and hypocrisy of slavery; who fought against a country that would allow a system of enslavement of one group of people, but, allow freedom to another group of people, because of their different race and skin color;
I thank you for David Walker, whose fiery words spoke to the rights of Black people to live freely and abundantly in a country that only gave lip service to its ideals of freedom and equality;
I thank you for John Brown, who refused to turn away from the suffering of his fellow sisters and brothers who were enslaved; John Brown, whose body lies a mouldering in the grave, but, whose soul is still marching on.
I thank you for W.E.B. Dubois, who eloquently gave voice to the voiceless, who chronicled the history of his Black people to leave a legacy behind that spoke of the fortitude, the will, the desire of recently freed Black people who walked, ran, and went whatever way they could to get the education so long denied them in slavery; W.E.B. who spoke of the infamous “Veil” that shrouded the true lives that so many Black people lived in the American South:
I thank you for Langston Hughes, who, too, sang America.
I thanks you for James Weldon and Rosamond Johnson, who lifted every voice and sang, ’til earth and Heaven rang;
I thank you for Zora Neale Hurston, who was too busy sharpening her oyster knife to let the world beat her down or hold her back; Zora, who spoke of mules and men; Zora who spoke the truth bluntly and succinctly, and opened a door and gave the rich culture of Black Americans to the world, through their folklore;
I thank you for Lorraine Hansberry, who wrote of dreams deferred; dreams that would die like a raisin in the sun if those dreams were continually crushed;
I thank you for The Harlem Renaissance.
I thank you for Darlene Clark Hine, Alice Walker, Ann Petry, Phyllis Wheatley,
I thank you for James Baldwin, who warned America of the fire next time; James Baldwin who spoke of the blues for mister charlie, and who exhorted the white man (and woman) to listen!
I thank you for Ida Wells-Barnett, who fought the lynchers who burned and tortured defenseless Black citizens; Ida , who revealed the red record of Southern barbarity against it most helpless citizens;
I thank you for Medger Evers who knew that every day would be his last, but, kept on registering Black people to vote, Black citizens who had a right to exercise their Constitutional rights as U.S. citizens;
I thank you for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was thrust onto the world stage, a young preacher who spoke of his dream that one day all would be judged by the content of their character, and not the color of their skin; a dream that is yet to ring true, from the mountaintops, from the hills, from every valley—–in America;
I thank you for Malcolm X, who spoke brilliantly and beautifully, for Black Americans to live safely and rightfully in their country, free from malicious harm and injustice; Malcom, who gave his life for his Black sisters and brothers; Malcolm, who fought the haters and destroyers, by any means necessary;
I thank you for Fannie Lou Hamer, who even after she was brutally beaten by racists cops, even after she and the MFDP were refused seats at the 1964 Democratic Convention, even after she was jailed—Fannie who refused to let the light and fire in her go out; Fannie, who would take that little light of hers, and let it shine—-let it shine—-let it shine—–so brightly that her legacy still shines like a lighthouse to the world;
I thank you for Sister Rosa Parks—-for she would not be moved;
I thank you for Sister Shirley Chisholm, who would blaze a path for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton; for Shirley who made the way smooth for them; for Shirley, who remained unbought, and unbossed—–to the end.
I thank you for the Southern Tenant Farmers Union: black men—and white men, men who came together for a common cause to see a decent life, and an end to their stolen labors, men who fought against the aggressive repression of brutal sharecropping;
I thank you for the unheralded and unsung Black women of the South who took in Freedom Riders and Civil Rights workers; Black women, who at great risk to themselves, sheltered, fed, and protected those who came from across the South, and from outside the South, to help Black people who wanted a better life, a better day, for their future children, and children’s children; Black women who knew that their lives could be destroyed by segregationists, but, who knew that their lives were being obliterated, bit, by bit, by bit, from the devastation of Jane Crow segregation; Black women who would not take nothing for their journey, because their eyes were on the prize;
I thank you for Sojourner Truth, Elaine Brown, Kathleen Cleaver, Assata Shakur, Angela Davis, Flo Kennedy, Mrs. Silas McGhee, Unita Blackwell, Dovie and Winsome Hudson, Ella Baker, Lucy Parsons, Mamma Harris, “Mama” Dolly Raines, the Black Washerwomen of 1866;
I thank you for all the children of the Civil Rights Movement; children bowled over by fire hoses turned on them; children who braved police dogs that attacked and bit them, dogs that tore into their tender, young flesh; children who saw that life would remain the same for them if they did not challenge the racist status quo that annihilated them and their families, on a daily basis;
I thank you for Chief Joseph, of the Nez Perce; Chief Joseph, who would fight no more, forever;
I thank you for Caesar Chavez, who organized migrant farm workers into a force to be reckoned with;
I thank you for the Black Panthers who said power to the people because the people were the strength and life force of America;
I thank you for Jane Elliot, who through her class divided helped her students, and many adults, see the gross injustice of inequality, and to see the most basic inner humanity in us all;
I thank you for Grace Lee Boggs, who devoted her life to speaking power to truth against racism;
I thank for for all the many women and men who strived, suffered, bled, worked, gave their lives so that America could truly live up to its constitutional creed:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
I thank you, Our Father in Heaven, for so many I have not mentioned, not out of disrespect, but, know, that they are loved, honored, and respected, in my heart.
But, most of all, I thank you for my father (deceased), my mother, my siblings, my many extended kinfolk, and all those who have had a positive and uplifting affect on my life, for such are those who have come before me who given me much to enable me to question, think, decide for myself and live my life in a way that they would be proud of.
In the name of the Father and the Son, I thank you for these many gifts I have received through your bountiful blessings.