We are living in history. How the story of this time is told, and what fundamental changes will be made is dependent on us.
Each one of us – whether you are marching in the streets or sheltering in place and educating yourself is needed.
In 2016, Rabbi Micah Lapidus of Atlanta Georgia wrote the song “I Was Not Silenced”, based on his reading of Job 23:17:
Yet I am not cut off by the darkness; He (God) has concealed the thick gloom from me.
כִּֽי־לֹ֣א נִ֭צְמַתִּי מִפְּנֵי־חֹ֑שֶׁךְ וּ֝מִפָּנַ֗י כִּסָּה־אֹֽפֶל׃
When he recorded the song several years later, he also called it Mordechai’s Song. He is referring to when Mordechai tells his sister Esther that she alone can save the Jewish people from slaughter, in the Purim story:
…If you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews ״from another quarter״ while you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows, perhaps you have attained to royal position for just such a crisis.”
Fast Forward – Not Silenced
Two weeks ago, Melvin Kindall Myles and Stephen C J Simmons Sr. released their powerful interpretation of this song – and Springdale Baptist Church in Memphis created a video (you can see it below) with images blending both the protests of the Civil Rights Movement with the protests of today.
Melvin Myles* writes this about this historic moment in time, the song, and this day, Juneteenth.
“I Was Not Silenced” Juneteenth Commemoration For over 400 years people of color in America have been enslaved, oppressed, lynched, and hated. June 19th (Juneteenth) is what should be a National Holiday observing when black folks heard about their freedom.
But what is freedom, what does that look like? You mean we now have the freedom to remain right where we are and be treated just the same as we have always been treated?
Yes, that is what they called freedom. “I Was Not Silenced” is based on the 23rd Chapter of Job; he had everything but when everything was stripped from him and he became enslaved by the darkness of his pain, he refused to allow silence to be an option for him. He cried and argued, moaned and groaned because the oppression of his wounds kept him bitter and frustrated, but he did not lose his hope.
As we celebrate this holiday, I am holding steadfast to that hope that lives within me, even though the darkness of racism, hatred, bigotry, and anything else not of God is encamped all around us, still in 2020; we are more than conquerors, but we have to remember that in order to be a conqueror, you have to be tried in the fire. What do you say about a people who have been tried in the fire for over 400 years? Yes, we are tired, yes, we are angry, and no we will not get over it, but we still stand up to injustice.
I was so very moved by this song, that I am blending it into my teaching of this moment.
The music, the lyrics, and the voices call us to participate. We need to get up off our seats and help make America the great place we can be. We are the ones who can help fulfill Rev. Martin Luther King’s dream that his “four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
“I Will Not Be Silenced”
For ways to become an anti-racist, see here. None of us can be silent anymore. It is our responsibility to learn how to become anti-racist.
Blessings are we create a more perfect union.
From the flat lands of the Mississippi Delta surrounded by cotton fields, a close-knit family, and great music in the early 80s Melvin Myles, the youngest of 5, was born into a devout Baptist/Christian family. Melvin’s parents have served several decades as a Pastor and First Lady and started a family gospel group comprised of all his siblings and parents at an early age that aided him in becoming an accomplished classically trained musician and singer. Jackson State University in Jackson, MS aided Melvin in further developing his musical gifts. Melvin, a concerned Navy veteran, is now committed to improving the quality of life and services for veterans and several vulnerable populations through his work as a philanthropist and small business owner.