By Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith
Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you. Deuteronomy 32:7
This month, we think back to the March on Washington, which occurred 60 years ago this August, along with other significant Pan African moments from 1963. Tradition suggests that the diamond is the symbol for 60th anniversaries. This causes us to reflect on the Greek root of the word “diamond,” which is “adamas,” meaning unconquerable and enduring.
The epigraph from Deuteronomy suggests that remembrances of generations past can provide lessons for our todays and tomorrows about being unconquerable and enduring.
We draw one such lesson from the story of Moses and the deliverance of the Israelite people from bondage. It is a story about newfound freedom and discovering a new way to live. This was not an easy task. This was illustrated when they were hungry in the wilderness after their release:
In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt!” (Exodus 16:2-3)
And God heard their plea and provided food for the people to eat.
This biblical text of God’s faithfulness to the Israelite people comes to mind during this month of Black August. This is a time for recognizing the enduring faithfulness of Pan African peoples in their resilient advocacy.
This year’s Black August includes a remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington. A commemorative event will take place at the Lincoln Memorial on August 26.
August 31 will be another date to commemorate, as it marks the third International Day of People of African Descent. That date will be complemented with recommendations from the United Nations second Permanent Forum of People of African Descent.
On August 29, Bread will have a hybrid event to celebrate and commemorate both of these significant dates.
We will also be thinking about two 60th anniversaries from earlier this year. May 25, 1963, marked the founding of the Organization of African Unity, now called the African Union. And the All Africa Conference of Churches held its first assembly on April 20, 1963 in Kampala, Uganda.
Bread for the World has partnered with these Pan African partners and continues to do so with its mission and vision to end hunger and to address the wealth and income racial equity gap.
In this moment, Bread believes the reauthorization of the farm bill is a policy that addresses equity, nutrition, and sustainable life—vital issues for Black August.
Pan African communities can and will continue to speak out, advocate and show their historic resilience and resolve to address these issues from a faith perspective. Bread celebrates Pan African leadership as we partner to end hunger.
Please visit www.bread.org/offering-letters/ to learn more about the farm bill and to advocate for it.
Angelique Walker-Smith is senior associate for Pan African and Orthodox Church engagement at Bread for the World.
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