Effie M. Clark in her speech, ‘How a People Make History”, puts forth the truism, “An enslaved people cannot move toward liberating themselves until they first understand the nature of their oppression.” But the opposite is also true. An oppressed people cannot understand the nature of their oppression before they are inspired with hope and a vision of the freedom that they desire.
To understand the nature of their oppression, a people must first know who they are. They must also know who their enemy is. They must organize themselves to struggle with their own spiritual, psychological, emotional and physical weaknesses, this in addition to the whole issue of their oppressed condition. In the middle of such struggle, they are no longer slaves; they are no longer being totally defeated by what enslaves them. As Marcus Garvey states, “They now live a resurrected life”. Now the former enslaved people can begin to shape their destiny; they now determine the direction they should go, they have now entered into a renewed life. They now know themselves as a people worthy of freedom and un- inhibited prosperity.
Like the Hebrew children being led out of Egypt by Moses, the same is true for the Black man in America. The Black man cannot free himself from the mental shackles of plantation slavery without a leader. God has sent a barrage of Negro leaders to batter down the doors of Jim Crow and racism. Starting with the Negro press in post Civil War, New Orleans, which lobbied for the social and economic freedoms of the Negroes. After Reconstruction, the failed slave revolt which ended with several Negro revolt leaders being beheaded in the now famous Congo Square of New Orleans.
The Negro continued to express themselves by giving birth to jazz and the blues. There were the Tuskegee Airman, the black fighter pilots who were a superb reckoning force in the winning of WWII for America. There was Jackie Robinson who broke the color barrier in professional baseball followed by Hank Aaron. Then came the court decision, “Brown verses the Board of Education”. There was Edgar Meyers, Dr. King and the Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. Malcolm, the so-called angriest black man in America, who helped the black man deal with his own weak self esteem. These were but a few the shoulders on which the black man began to make “headway” in achieving freedom and equality.
One cannot forget the many unnamed, brave souls who took the leadership roles in seeking and demanding freedom for the black man. Nor can we forget the many brave white brothers and sisters who struggled along side of the black man and some lost there lives while doing so. These were just some of the untold leaders God sent ahead to clear the way for the total liberation of the Negro, which is yet to be fully accomplished.
What Moses didn’t know was that you can’t be a friend to the enemy of your people and at the same time be a friend to your people. You can’t be both. You cannot be a friend to the world and the church at the same time. You cannot serve two masters. It took a chain of events to teach Moses this lesson (Exodus2 :11-12). What will it take for you to learn that you cannot be a friend to whatever enslaves you?
You cannot ever free yourself as long as you worship and give in to whatever oppresses or enslaves you. Is it something about your physical looks which enslaves you with shame and or guilt? Is it a feel-good habit which oppresses you? Are you lonely and alone, is this what oppresses you and causes you to retreat? You cannot turn a loose the past and this oppresses you? Is it unrepented sin which enslaves you? Are you angry at God for some reason and remain spiritually hidden from Him? Is it your confusion about God and Who He is which keeps you in spiritual shackles.
Who and whatever your oppressor is, it will loom over you, as long as you do not register internal resistance to the source of oppression. You must know that you were born to be free. Freedom is in you and each of you feel freedom deep down in your soul.
You as a child of God, can no longer afford the luxury of allowing your en slaver, or oppressor to make your life decisions for you. You are the master of your own soul. Having a good job, wearing the finest, driving the finest, living in the finest doesn’t serve you well if you are not free on the inside from any and all things which oppresses and en-slaves you. The oppressor or en-slaver has only one purpose and that is to keep him on top and in power over you. The longer the en -slaver is in power over you, the more powerful it becomes. To be free is a choice. “Before I’d be a slave I will lie buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free. To be or not to be, a slave. Jesus cried out to the men bringing Lazarus out of the grave, “Loose the man and let Him go!” The grave cloth had Lazarus tied up and en-slaved.
“I come to set the captives free,” said Jesus, as He began His three-year ministry. As said earlier, all enslaved people need a leader to be led out from slavery. Jesus is our Leader!
“Would you be free from the burden of sin would you o’er evil a victory to win, there is power in the blood.” “Go down Moses and tell all who enslaves My people, Let My people go!” (Exodus 8:1)