“Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Us Around” A sentence from one of the freedom songs of the civil rights movement. “Marching Up Freedom’s Lane.”
“Almighty God, Thou has called us to walk for freedom, even as Thou did the children of Israel. We pray dear God, as we go through a wilderness of state troopers that Thou will hold our hand. We pray dear God, as we must go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, that Thou will go with us and strengthen us for the task. Keep us strong. Keep us calm. Help us to love our enemy. And above all, keep the fires of freedom burning in our hearts, so that no matter what happens, ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around. Because Thou dear God, has sent us into this place. Thou has sent us to fight, not just for ourselves, but to fight for this nation so that democracy might exit here for the whole world. Keep this vision in our heats, and may we one day wake up and find the state of Alabama, where all men might vote, where all children might get a decent education, where every man and women might have a job according to his or her abilities, and where every man and women might live together as brothers, and violence and bloodshed and hatred and prejudice shall be no more. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.” Martin Luther King Jr.
King gave this prayer during a march for voting rights, in 1965, that included people of different age groups, races, religions and socioeconomic class.
Living in the Detroit area at the height of the civil rights movement, I remember clearly, the riots in July 1967. The imposed curfews, police in riot gear, the trucks filled with national guard rolling down the street. Most of this observed from a distance on TV, but the noise, the unmistakable fire in the sky at night, the smell of a city burning down was a constant reminder that all is not well with our world. When the carnage of the 5 days was finally settling down, several of us drove into the heart of the city. Much of the city was gone, 12th St. completely devasted. Something here was very wrong. I had not known of the 8 mile wall. A one foot thick, 6 ft. high wall that separated the black community from the white community, built in 1941 to keep the races segregated. Decades of indignities, laws made and designed to support the economics of white communities. Oppression, a feeling of hopelessness creates unrest in the spirit. A year later in 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated. The complexities of racism and how they define our culture are broad and many layered.
With God’s help I will see the root of that sin in my own heart. Only God can convict and heal my heart. I pray we as a people, our leaders, people and nations around the world will look for solutions to make this a more equitable world for all. “Keep Us Strong, Keep Us Calm Lord.”
“The New Jerusalem, the Holy City, is bound firmly together; All who seek the Heart of Love, those who have faced their fears, enter the gates in peace and with great joy, singing songs of thanksgiving. There in harmony with the cosmos, the community gathers united in love.” Psalm 122, Psalms For Praying, Nan C Merrill