An eagle takes flight, unaware of the laws of gravity holding him down, nor of the tempestuous storm controlling the atmosphere. He ascends to his own heaven, high above the storms. The idea of flying has always been in the hearts and minds of our ancestors. While they endured the violence and hardships of slavery; poverty, rape, and beatings, they prayed for a better day. Many folktales were told of the supernatural abilities of man to leave their own tempestuous storms by flying high into the air.
Initially, the idea of flight was synonymous with thoughts of freedom. We use expressions such as “Free as a bird,” because we all secretly covet the natural ability of bird to simply flap their wings and flee. Our patriots, (in honor of today, I am specifically referring to black soldiers who fought in the Civil War), understood exactly what they were fighting for: “fight or flight.” Their rights had been stripped until they had almost nothing. They fought for their dignity and pride, but more importantly, they fought unselfishly so that their children could have a better tomorrow.
Moreover, as we contemplate the sacrifices of so many, the question arises “How will you ascend?’” To answer this question, we must reflect on our patriots, who used their own perilous experiences to not only take flight, but to assist others in their ascension as well. Many people may come to your mind, but I always think about Harriot Tubman, the first and only woman to lead a military expedition during the Civil War. She rescued more than 700 enslaved people, selflessly returning 13 times to free family and friends. Today we should also remember Alexander Augusta, who when faced with discrimination here in the United States, blocking him from becoming a doctor, moved to Canada to earn his PhD. He then returned to the States to serve as the Union Army’s highest ranking black officer.
The above mentioned were everyday individuals who through their actions, took flight, just like the American Eagle. They carried an entire nation on their back in attempts to make a better brighter day for the next generation. I would like to ask the question again: “How will you ascend?” Let me add a second question to that, “Who will you take with you?” We no longer have time to wait. We are in fight or flight mode. The following statistics are proof of our condition. A total of 45,222 people died from gun related injuries in 2020. In the U.S, gun deaths surged 35% higher for black people, in the same year. This is a wakeup call for all of us. African Americans are 4 times more likely to be killed by a gun than the overall population. Even more staggering, young black males (teens) made up 37% of all gun homicides in 2019, during a pandemic.
In conclusion, I would like to employ the words of Mordecai in the book of Ester 4:14, We can not remain silent at this time. “Who knows that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” We know how to fight; it is time to take flight.