Let Freedom Ring -A Call To Heal A Nation During Black History Month
Racial tension rings loud in our communities and nation so where do we began the ‘talk’. What is the first step in loosening the bonds of discrimination and alienation? Fear is the culprit and now it is time to get to the root of the bad fruit.
‘We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ This famous text was from the 1, 340 document of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the year of America’s independence.
While the masses celebrated that day, a group of slaves secretly founded the First Baptist Church in Williamsburg, Virginia. The church, which celebrates its 240th anniversary in 2016, is today one of the country’s oldest African-American houses of Baptist worship, and a symbol of the faith, struggle, and perseverance that marks the black experience in America. The First Baptist Church — whose first members met under thatched arbors in the woods –later moved to a church building and acquired a bell in the late 19th century. The bell has been stilled since the days of segregation and Jim Crow.
What is the significance of ringing the bell? “Bells call people to faith. They send forth to do good work in the world, said Reginald F. Davis, Pastor of First Baptist Church. “But Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who prayed in our church, also said that freedom rings. A silent bell represents unfinished work of freedom and equality. This bell, in this sacred and historic church, will be silent no more.”
Let Freedom Ring Ceremonial Kickoff will be held on February 1, 2016. For more information about the month-long events of forums, panels, celebrations and the ringing of the bell, please visit LetFreedomRingChallenge.org Invited guests include President Barack Obama, Congressional Black Caucus members, Chief Justice Anthony Kennedy, religious leaders, educational leaders, as well as ordinary citizens. (Confirmations and RSVPs in progress).
I had the distinct honor of interviewing Reverend Dr. Reginald Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church of Colonial Williamsburg and Mitchell B. Reiss, the current President and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia. “If God can bring us through these other crisis of the past, he can surely bring us through this,” said Pastor Davis. Listen to the interview here…..