This little light of mine

June 14th, 2018

The Civil Rights Tour brings the past to the front door of your mind and requires one to open the door and allow it to speak for itself. It begs the question, Will you let me in? Will you learn? Will you repeat the mistakes of the past? Will you know me?
To me this trip continues to remind me of how little I know and how indebted I am to those that have come and suffered before me. As a man of color working on a predominantly white institution, I can’t but be thankful for those that endured so much to pave the way for me to be a part of something that many of them died fighting to achieve. Albany Georgia, touched me in a profound way as we sang freedom songs with Ms. Rutha Harris one of the original Freedom singers. Ms. Harris gave account of her experience as a teenager seeking to find a way to participate in this very important movement taking place around them. Ms. Harris became one of four students who formed a quartet at Albany State College which eventually became known as The Freedom Singers in 1962.
The result of their voices gave strength and hope to the civil rights movement through communal song by empowering and educating audiences all across the country. As we followed her direction to the tune of this Little Light of Mine I was especially moved because it was a song that meant so much for me as a child growing up on the far eastern continent of Africa.
These young students used their voices to give hope to a movement, to shine their light however little that light was. I was struck by the vivid recollections of singing this same song with other children in the playgrounds and churches in Kenya and how similar the message of spreading light was. The strong link of the message for kids around the world that even though a child, you possessed something that you could pass on to the rest of the world. A light that can shine and break walls and cripple hatred. A light that even a child can easily carry.
Standing there locked hand in hand, we swayed slowly to the voice of Rutha leading us in song and I sensed a kinship to a movement that continues in its own. Maybe, just maybe we can all take hold of the simple lyrics of this timeless tune and let our light shine however little we may think it is.
As we recognize the need to let our light shine we can hear the knock of history on the locked door of our minds, open and develop a posture of learning and just maybe we will avoid repeating the mistakes of our past.


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