Pentecost in the Age of Trump

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A sermon preached on 6/4/17 at Christ Trinity Church in Sheffield, MA

O Holy Spirit of God, abide with us.
Inspire all our thoughts.
Pervade our imaginations.
Suggest all our decisions.
Order all our doings.
Be with us in our silence and in our speech,
In our haste and in our leisure,
In company and in solitude,
In the freshness of the morning and in the weariness of the evening,
And give us grace at all times
Humbly to receive thy mysterious companionships.

If the apostles thought they were in danger before Jesus came and breathed on them, thus imparting to them His Holy Spirit, they were in even more danger afterward.

To let God use your mind, your heart, and your hands is indeed a perilous venture, my friends. For when you do, you open yourselves to ridicule, to mocking, to having to place yourself at both physical and spiritual risk.

I have always thought of the mysterious companionships mentioned in the prayer as creatures of the natural world. Indeed, I believe that God used such creatures to draw me closer and closer to Her. I can’t tell you the number of times that, in moments of deep discouragement, a swallowtail butterfly has swirled around me, or a wolf, though attached to a chain, has come up to me and licked my hand, or a dragonfly has landed on my arm, and immediately all bad thoughts have evaporated and I have felt comforted and loved.

Kissed on Both Eyelids

I have felt as the actor Walter Slezak felt when he wrote in his autobiography that upon meeting his future wife, he felt as if God had kissed him on both eyelids. Isn’t that warm and cozy and comforting?

As I get older, however, and look at the patterns of my life, and if we look at the patterns of the apostles’ lives after Pentecost, we can see that there is much more to the working of the Holy Spirit in ourselves, in the church, and in the world.

There comes saying the unpopular thing that needs to be heard. There comes daring to love the unlovable. There comes befriending one’s enemies. There comes, at all times and in all places, an involuntary urge to do the right thing, no matter the cost.

 There comes action, according to the gifts the Spirit gives each one of us.

The original Pentecost was a Jewish holiday called Shavuot. Fifty days after Passover, Jews still celebrate the day on which God gave the Israelites the Torah and they became His people. This year it was celebrated on June 1.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for spirit is “ruah,” meaning wind, power, strength. In the New Testament, the Greek word “pneuma” is used for the Holy Spirit, meaning breath. We see them both used in the readings from Acts and in John’s Gospel. Notice the differences in them, though. In Acts, Jerusalem is filled with people who have come to celebrate Shavuot, which has now morphed into a harvest festival. Suddenly a violent wind comes into the house where the apostles are staying and tongues of fire rest on them. Suddenly they are able to speak in other languages, and every person in the city hears them speak in their own language.

John’s Pentecost is taking place on the same day as the Resurrection. The frightened Apostles are barricaded behind locked doors. Jesus comes to them and breathes on them, recalling Genesis and God’s breath into the first human being. Jesus said to the apostles, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

The Real Kiss of Life

What ties the two Scriptures together is not obvious. One depicts the Apostles in the middle of a micro-storm and includes hundreds of other people. The second shows a very quiet moment in which Jesus is not only breathing on them, but into them. This is no artificial respiration, but it is the real kiss of life, the sealing of them as His own and marking them forever as people who are commissioned to go out into the world and be Jesus in the world. And as he did it to the apostles, he did it to us.

When the Spirit comes, Jesus tells the Apostles in Chapter 16 of John, “. . .he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.”

Matt Skinner of the Lutheran Theological Seminary puts it this way: “That is, in the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ followers receive nothing less than the fullness of the glorified Son. Their lives (ours, too) can therefore accomplish ends similar to his life’s, insofar as they reveal God.”

The world that the Spirit comes to prove wrong, through the Apostles and through us, “usually indicates a hostile and ignorant response to the truth that Jesus embodies,” Mr. Skinner says. And by the most intimate divine act possible, that of breathing into us, Jesus assures us that His peace is not that of the world, not just the cozy and comforting view I’ve had, but peace that gives confidence that no matter how bad it gets, Jesus is with us through it all.

But what do we make of the final verse of today’s gospel reading? Quoting Mr. Skinner again, “The Johannine Pentecost” goes like this:

Jesus bestows peace upon his worried followers. Great!

Jesus fills them with the Holy Spirit. Great!

Jesus tells them they can forgive or retain other people’s sins. Huh?”

We have to look back at the verse from Chapter 16 and throughout the rest of John to understand that, no, we are not given the responsibility of coming up with a balance sheet of other people’s rights and wrongs.

Sin As Estrangement

Over and over again in John, Jesus talks about Himself and his relationship to the Father, and that if one can’t believe what he says, one remains separated from God, and so the word “sin” here in today’s reading refers to that estrangement, that separation. To forgive people’s sins here doesn’t mean that we are to give absolution for others’ moral failings, but that we, as commissioned by Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit, can help set people free from their unbelief by bearing witness to Jesus in our lives. If we don’t, the estrangement from God is “retained” in the world.

In a way, Jesus is really pointing out cause and effect: If you, my apostles, my followers, my church, bear witness to me, you will help to free people from their unbelief. If you don’t, that unbelief will continue.

To relate this back to Acts, I have to address the elephant in the room. Yesterday, seven people were killed by terrorists in London. At least 28 others were wounded, some life-threateningly so. This is the second terrorist attack in England in two weeks.

At least 90 people, mostly women and children, died in Kabul, Afghanistan this week in a terrorist attack, and several killed at a funeral Friday for a young man who was protesting the lack of security in Kabul and was shot by police.

In the US, there have been two fatal incidents of domestic terrorism in the past two weeks. A white supremacist fatally stabbed Ricky Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche were fatally stabbed and Micah Fletcher wounded in Portland when they intervened with a white supremacist who was harassing two young women whom he believed were Muslim.

African-American college student Richard Collins III was fatally stabbed by a white supremacist student on his college campus two weeks ago.

Our President condemns attacks on white Westerners and uses them to push his travel ban. We hear very little from him about the domestic terroristic attacks, which I believe were empowered by this government, or when Muslims are killed by others who call themselves Muslims but pervert the faith of Islam.

Luke writes at least twice about God’s unifying vision of all people, about anti-discrimination if you will. Today’s scripture, which is always read on Pentecost, shows people from dozens of nations able to understand each other, able to hear each other, after the Holy Spirit comes in wind and fire.

Is this then the true work of the Holy Spirit? To empower us to set others’ free from the deadly sins of extremism and racism? To radically learn to UNDERSTAND each other and HEAR each other, no matter who we are and where we’re from. To radically DEFEND those who are attacked and to intervene when we witness the discrimination, the hate of those who have rejected the Kingdom of God?

I would have preferred to dwell on the cozy and comforting aspects of the mysterious companionships today, my friends. I would rather not have to ask you, or myself, if you had been on that train in Portland, would you have intervened? I would rather have played Pollyanna’s “glad game” and left you with rosy and optimistic thoughts.

But our world, and our country, becomes more dangerous every day as the sins of racism on all sides do their evil work, inside our country and out of it. So today, I say, the mysterious companionships are courage, strength, and fortitude to resist the evil work at every pass. This is what Jesus is breathing into us today. Will we accept the grace to do that?

Everyone Belongs in the Kingdom

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My little garden in a little town in a little state is my refuge, my haven, my glimpse of the Kingdom.

It is in shade, yet there are flowering plants and lots of green foliage. I did a little work and nature did the rest. In the near distance are trees dappled in sunlight in the late afternoon and a glimpse of the churchyard next door.

Robins and catbirds and sparrows and swifts sit on the fence and call to the universe or fly and dart about. Honeybees cover the cimicifuga and they are more than welcome. Fat bumblebees fly up into the heart of the hosta blossoms. I sit with my coffee and my book and my mature, overweight cat lazes nearby.

A chipmunk runs across the paving stones from one clump of vegetation to another. A poodle pup named Rory charges up the path from next door, tail wagging, to greet me. Onyx flips her tail and eyes him warily. I give him a good patting and send him back to his owner.

Yes, the Kingdom, the harmony, the peace despite a busy major route just yards away. For 45 minutes a day most days I can come to my retreat and, ideally, shed the tensions of the work day.

It is more difficult to shed the tensions of the world. Even more difficult is that I am ever mindful of the fact that there is no haven, no blessed retreat, no Kingdom for so many people on this Earth, our island home spinning through a universe of wonders and horrors.

Is it neurosis or social conscience that never lets me forget how privileged my life has been? I have known loss and grief. My mother died when she was the age I’ll be in September, a short, violent battle with liver cancer that took her before we could even get our minds around what was happening to her. My beloved brother died when he was the age I am now, a long, drawn-out battle with pancreatic cancer that left him a bag of bones loosely covered in flesh, and it was almost impossible to recognize the athletic, handsome, dignified youth and man he had been.

People, pets, jobs, relationships, the losses that are the normal stuff of most lives.

But no one I love has ever been executed because of the color of his skin. No one I love has so far been in the path of a terrorist. No child of mine has ever lived in a war zone or had to risk drowning to reach a shore of safety.

In the late 1980s, the African National Congress toured the world with a documentary called “Every Child is My Child.” Along with all the political and economic and humanitarian efforts to end the evil called apartheid, it galvanized people to look at the struggle in a new way.

For me, it reinforced the feeling that I have known as long as I can remember, that every person is my child, my sister, my brother, my mother, my father, and the Kingdom is not mine alone to enjoy. It won’t be the Kingdom until everyone can live without fear, in safety and peace, in the sure knowledge that when they wake up to a new day, they are not risking their lives by stepping outside their doors.

 

Brexit + Trump = Bad News

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In the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, we are hearing a lot of apologias for the vote to leave the European Union and are told that we must try to understand why people voted this way.

Many similarities have been seen between those Brexit voters in England and the followers of Donald Trump, so therefore we must also try to understand the Trump followers and find out what they want. Presumably we are also supposed to try to give them what they want without actually making Donald Trump the President.

This is a populist movement, we’re told, by the working class who want a better life, better jobs, better everything, and don’t believe they will get it from the elite ruling establishment. It is not about racism, it is not about immigration and open borders, we’re told. It is simply about wanting a better life and self-determination.

My response? BALLS! It is about self-interest, pure and simple; it is about wanting only what is good for oneself; it is about ignoring the interests of one’s country as a whole; it is about retaliation; above all, in my opinion, it is about the longing of white men to be king of the hill again.

The rise of Donald Trump and the rise of the agitation to leave the EU have one really big thing in common: immigration in the US and the refugee crisis in Europe.

The leaders of the agitation are not working class, are not poor, and most assuredly do not have the interests of the “common man” in their hearts. What they do have is the ability to exploit and manipulate fears of the “other” among their followers, to an almost maniacal degree.

Who suffers most from closed borders? Black and brown people and non-Christians. It’s that simple, friends. And it’s that evil.

Whether it’s a virtual wall or a physical wall, these two phenomena want to keep out the other and keep all the goodies for themselves. But making that wall means getting rid of the other who crossed the border when it was open. What does that lead to?

Thomas Mair, who allegedly murdered British parliamentarian Jo Cox in the cause of Brexit, had well-established ties to Neo-Nazi organizations. Neo-Nazi activists flocked to Donald Trump’s rally in Sacramento. Like Isis, they want to establish their own “caliphate” and return to the “good old days” of white men ruling the world. Don’t believe me? Read what the Southern Poverty Law Center has to say about the right(white)-wing activists who flocked to Sacramento: White Nationalism

But it won’t be the working class white men who benefit from Brexit or a Trump presidency; it will be the wealthy white elite, and they won’t (read don’t) give a rat’s ass about what’s good for the underclass.

I propose that instead of rounding up the black and brown and non-Christian immigrants/refugees, we round up the Trump followers and the England First followers into detention camps. Just for fun, let’s throw in the billionaire Libertarian agitators too. There they could receive the benefit of deep therapy to learn why they’re really so angry and be helped to recover from whatever real or imaginary wounds they have.

Meanwhile, I’ll be praying for all the people for whom Brexit and a possible Trump presidency hold dire, even life-threatening consequences.

I Refuse to be Scared

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I am sick to death of morally bankrupt politicians telling me what and how Americans are feeling.

“Americans are scared.” “Americans don’t want Syrian refugees coming to this country.” “Americans want to know what’s going on inside mosques.”

First of all, I am not scared of being killed by terrorists. I was not scared after 9/11 and I’m not scared now. Here’s why: I do not think that my life is worth any more than anyone else’s on this planet. I do not think that I should be exempt from catastrophe and that the millions of people who deal with natural and manmade disasters on an almost daily basis shouldn’t be exempt.

I never say “There but for the grace of God go I” because I don’t believe that God causes bad things to happen to other people but not to me.

I never say, “See you tomorrow, God willing,” because I don’t believe God might decide to “take” me overnight or to “take” the other person and not me.

Human beings cause bad things to happen to people; human beings take lives. Human beings foment disasters. Human beings create situations in which toxins invade people’s bodies and cause cancer and other diseases. God does not.

Human beings pervert religious ideals to the point of needing to erase the lives of people who don’t agree with them. God does not.

God loves. God loves with a vastness that is hard to fathom until you feel such love yourself for another human being. Even then, we can feel only a small part of it.

I reverence life, all life, on this planet. But what I’m feeling now is that I would give my life if it would save one Syrian child  and bring that child to a haven where the child could heal and grow up and live a life without terror.

And I say to Donald Trump, “You, sir, are the dangerous one who needs to be removed from our society.”

To Jeb Bush: “You, sir, are the one who needs to put yourself in harm’s way if you think that boots on the ground is such a good idea.”

To Mike Huckabee: “Saying ‘for falalfel’s sake’ makes you not only stupid but ignorant and stupidly ignorant is far more dangerous than things that challenge physical safety.”

To Governor Charlie Baker: “Massachusetts is the FIRST state that should be accepting Syrian refugees since it was one of the first shores to which other refugees came so long ago.”

How dare you, Trump, Bush, Huckabee, Cruz, Baker, Fox News, Tea Partiers – how DARE you say that the United States has lost its moral compass when it is YOU who have torn that compass from its binnacle and tossed it overboard?

I say, You are terrorists also, and you do the same amount of psychic and spiritual damage that ISIS does physically. Your fear-mongering, your hate-mongering, your greed and your corruption have poisoned this country almost to the point of making it beyond recognition.

In my anger, though, I have some hope because I do believe that love will win. We saw it in the aftermath of 9/11; we saw it in the aftermath of Paris; love saves and love wins. There are a whole lot of people out there who agree with me, and we’re standing up and shouting it out.

Neither American nor Middle Eastern terrorists understand this, no matter what they profess. They don’t know what love is; they only know hate and fear.

Sorry, folks, you are going to lose. In many ways, you’ve lost already.

 

 

The Moral Universe – I Dream a World

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I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!

Langston Hughes

From Langston Hughes to Walt Whitman to Wilfred Owens to Joan Baez to Pete Seeger and John Lennon to myriad other poets and songwriters, I have only heard and read of pleas for peace in our world.

Yes, there has been poetry and music that beats a drum, but I have never heard or read of an all-out plea for war.

Until President Obama decided to use diplomacy with Iran, that is. Now most Republicans and Benjamin Netanyahu’s party want war. With Iran. Despite the agreement of most world leaders, weapons experts, military authorities and, I’m sure, Pope Francis.

The fact that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz want to stage a protest in favor of war in our nation’s capital, which I have just come from, on my birthday makes it that much more personal.

Because I believe I was born knowing that very few wars solve anything. There have been wars that have had to be prosecuted, and were, but with great anguish and soul searching. Others have been prosecuted out of direct defense of home and hearth. Others have been entered into with great reluctance.

But for the United States, I’m having trouble coming up with one that involved pro-war protests. Correct me if I’m wrong.

So I have to ask, is it me whose thinking is scrambled, or is it them?

I recently read Erik Larson’s In the Garden of the Beast (the title is a loose translation of Tiergarten, the large park in the middle of Berlin). It is the story of the first US ambassador to Germany, who was sent there in the early 1930s particularly to try to get the new Chancellor, Adolph Hitler, to abide by the Treaty of Versailles.

Ambassador Joseph Dodd was an academic, not a diplomat. He was not part of the club that ruled the foreign service at that time. He thought he had President Franklin Roosevelt’s ear, but there were many right there in Washington who really wielded the power of foreign service.

Unsuitable as Dodd was, and as naïve about Hitler as he and his infamous daughter Martha were in their early days in Berlin, they did begin to recognize the truth about Hitler and Goering and Goebbels as friends began to go into exile or disappear. The Night of the Long Knives, during which a purge against German officials who were not loyal to Hitler took place, sealed it for the Dodds. But the ambassador’s warnings to his government went unheeded, and while we can’t say for sure whether earlier US intervention could have saved them, six million lives were lost.

So are we appeasing Iran with the treaty and will it come back to haunt us? Am I an isolationist trying to pretend that the possibility that this is the worst thing our government could do isn’t real?

No, we aren’t and I’m not.

If I compare the early 1930s in Germany to the 2000s in the US, I see much more of the insidious evil of Nazism in the very Republicans who are so eager to go to war with Iran. They have compared President Obama to Hitler, but it is they who want to keep a white supremacist ethos in this country. It is they who fear and loathe the “other” and want to keep the “other” out. It is they who have been paranoid about everything from ebola to immigrants to weapons of mass destruction. It is they who keep the death penalty going and don’t really seem to care whether the prisoner to be executed is innocent or not.

I believe I was born dreaming the world that Langston Hughes describes so beautifully. I won’t let the likes of Cruz and Trump to turn that dream into a nightmare.

 

 

 

 

The Moral Universe – A ‘Spectacle’ Indeed

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I’ve been in a bubble of work and illness the last several weeks. I work for a performing arts organization, which becomes a world of its own during the season. Flu is no excuse for not showing up for work, so added to 10 and 12 hour days, I was looking only for light entertainment in my down time.

ota benga

Ota Benga at the Bronx Zoo

To my surprise, it wasn’t the lightweight books that were able to hold my attention. Instead, it was the true story of a young Congolese man brought to the United States under questionable circumstances in the early part of the century.

Spectacle, Pamela Newkirk’s new book, details the tragic life and death of Ota Benga, a member of the Mbeti people of Congo. The short, slight-statured people were called pygmies by the African explorers who swarmed through Africa in the latter half of the 19th century, seeking to prove evolutionary theory by finding and displaying “sub-species” proving that the white man was the pinnacle of natural selection.

Samuel Phillips Verner, a member of the Southern aristocracy, was one of these explorers. A self-styled missionary, his true aim was to plunder the wealth and treasures of African tribes and exploit the natural resources of Congo as King Leopold of Belgium was also doing so notoriously. Verner either kidnapped Ota Benga or enticed him to come with him to the US with improbable promises. Verner’s own stories of meeting Ota vary, but he did manage to bring the young man (whom he described as a cannibal) to put on display at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.

The fair’s theme was the arc of human development, and organizers were keen to display African “savages” as counterpoint to white achievement. The Smithsonian Institution and the National Geographic Society were both complicit in seeing that the theme was fulfilled. And indeed, the “pygmies” secured by Verner for the fair were a great success with fair-goers.

Two years later, Ota Benga ended up on display in the monkey house at the New York Zoological Gardens, now the Bronx Zoo. He was there for a month before the indignation of a group of New York’s African-American ministers and welfare workers got him released to the care of an orphanage for black children.

The wonder of Ms. Newkirk’s book is not only her painstaking research in finding out details about Ota Benga and his sojourn in the US, but the reminding history of Belgium’s depredations in Congo, which reverberate down to this very day. Ota Benga’s story has been known for years, and as recently as two years ago, items about him were posted to YouTube. However, they still contain legends handed down from the Verner family. Ms. Newkirk followed up every possible clue to put together a story about a real human being who suffered such indignities that he found his only way out to be suicide.

What happened to Ota Benga in the US had the full endorsement of the white elite of the time, including President Theodore Roosevelt. Mark Twain and Booker T. Washington were among those who protested the outrageous treatment Ota received.

Pamela NewkirkMs. Newkirk also introduces us to an influential African-American missionary in Congo, William Sheppard, who was one of the first to bring the tragedy of King Leopold’s rape of the Congo to public attention; she also writes about the African-American neighborhood of Weeksville in the Bronx, a once-thriving community that disproved the rule that blacks were any kind of sub-species.

Somehow, Ms. Newkirk managed to fit her research and her history into just 254 pages, a small book by today’s standards of weighty tomes that often provide much less than does Spectacle.

 

The Moral Universe – Woza Martin!

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Beat! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!

Through the windows—through the doors. . .Walt Whitman

Whitman’s poem expressed his anguish over the horrors he had seen while serving as a nurse in the Civil War. This is an anti-war poem, depicting the war like a gale-force wind blowing through everyone’s houses, leaving no family North or South unscathed.

I’d like to turn the image around, and perhaps the martial song from “Les Miserables” is appropriate: “Do you hear the people sing? Say, do you hear the distant drums. . . it is the music of a people who will not be slaves again”

Since June 19, after the first shock of the massacre of the Emanuel Nine, I began to feel in the air a new purpose, a new spirit of cooperation, a new realization among people of all colors that things have gone too far and we need a rebirth of the energy and the optimism and the hope of the civil rights movement.

President Obama, in his brilliant eulogy for the Rev. Sen. Clementa Pinckney, said that while the shooter thought he was starting a new white supremacy revolution, “God had other plans.” Yes, I thought to myself, this is how God redeems and sanctifies tragedies: the outpouring of love to Charleston and to the victims’ families, the worldwide services of remembrance and repentance, a new discussion on Confederate flags and memorials, the Supreme Court decision regarding the Fair Housing Act, Health Care, and gay marriage.

But of course, we’re not there yet, and it is easy for the news stations’ rapid cycling to lull us into losing the motivation and energy, “the wisdom of the elders and the young people’s energy,” as Common raps in the theme song to “Glory.”

woza albertSo all this has also put in my mind the early 1980s play, “Woza Albert.”* Written by Percy Mtwa, Mbongeni Ngema, and Barney Simon, it was first produced at the acclaimed Market Theater in Johannesburg, known for pushing the envelope against the tyranny of apartheid. Mtwa and Ngema were the original stars of the two-man show.

Aside from poking fun at the system of apartheid and the South African police, the play’s main premise was what would happen if Jesus came back to earth in South Africa. They surmise that He would be treated as revolutionary and imprisoned on Robben Island. BUT, He would be able to escape and walk across the water to the mainland.

“Woza” means “Arise,” and “Albert” refers to Albert Luthuli, the martyred president of the African National Congress. In the crisis that ensues with Jesus’s appearance, all the martyrs of the resistance arise from their graves. Preceding the end of apartheid by 10 years, “Woza Albert” added to the hope and determination of the ANC and all freedom fighters in that benighted country. The hard-line Botha was president, but it wouldn’t be long before even the official government would revolt and elect F.W. deKlerck, who saw the writing on the wall. What many predicted would be a bloodbath if the majority population took over the government was in fact about as peaceful a transition as could be imagined after what people had gone through, thanks to the alliance of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.

I will never, ever forget the day of Mandela’s release from prison. I taped all the radio and TV coverage, feeding cassette after cassette and videotape after videotape into the tape deck and VCR. I hung out a sheet on my front porch that said “Woza Nelson! Nkosi sikelel iAfrika!” (Sadly, where I lived at the time, no one knew or understood my efforts.) A TV crew was trying to interview Archbishop Tutu and get him to engage in recriminations against the government. would say was, “This is not a day for recriminations. This is a day to celebrate.”

Now, there cannot be anyone in this country who does know what happened at Emanuel African-Methodist-Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, on June 17. There cannot be anyone who has not seen the images of the heroic Bree Newsome scaling the flagpole at the South Carolina Statehouse to take down the Confederate flag. There cannot be anyone who does not know that the backlash started immediately with the burning of black churches. There cannot be anyone who does not know that the KKK is out in full force to defend the hated flag. There cannot be anyone who is on the sidelines.

So I say, “Beat! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow! Through the windows—through the doors. . .

Keep the momentum going. Do not back down now. Woza Martin! Woza Medgar! Woza Malcolm! Arise all the martyred heroes whose names are legion and fill this country with the inspiration of your sacrifices and lead us to the final victory of full equality, full access, full rights, full trust and understanding and common ground among us all.

Only then can Independence Day truly be celebrated.

*The play was filmed and is available on DVD. Google “Woza Albert film” to find.