The spirituals represent the spirit of hope for our nation. The spirituals set a moral high ground standard similar to the moral high ground set in our Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. The spirituals are the voice of our people who endured institutionalized slavery but chose forgiveness and healing by allowing anyone who hears their music to feel their pain and sorrow and yet feel the universal emotion of feeling connected to something bigger than yourself.
Our slave brothers and sisters, my ancestors, chose the moral high ground to deal with their pain in hopes future generations would never have to experience the demoralization of being labeled a slave and the impact it has on the human psyche. Our brother and sister Abolitionists too believed slavery was immoral and continued to speak out and fight against slavery until slavery was abolished in our country. The American story is messy and uncomfortable to talk about, but we must talk about our history in order to heal from our “original sin” of institutionalized slavery that has turned into racism and a new kind of slavery aimed at people of color in the form of institutionalized incarceration for profit. What is needed today is a diverse and inclusive perspective of our history and history in the making, not a one sided point of view.
The spirituals provide us with America’s oral history, a vehicle for communal singing as was demonstrated during the Civil Rights Movement when artists and activists transformed spirituals into freedom songs to bring and motivate ”we the people” to join together.
It is human nature to want your voice heard. It is also human nature to contribute and share your best God given talents to those around you so that collectively together your community will not only live but thrive. Coming together as a people putting our personal needs and wants aside for a higher purpose demanding human and civil rights for not only ourselves but for future generations not yet born.
Dr. King once said “Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society.”
In spite of colonization and the divisive nature of labeling human beings in order to establish one race’s superiority over another, the American people have joined together in movements that have charted a new course for our country. People have risen above oppression and leaders using the divisive tactic of divide and conquer to silence the common man. Our history my be uncomfortable, but if we talk about it and make efforts to stay on the moral high ground, we all can become the change we want to see.