Posts Tagged ‘man’

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On January 20, 2009, Dr. Lowery delivered the benediction at the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America. He opened with lines from “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as “The Negro National Anthem,” by James Weldon Johnson. He concluded with the following passage:

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen. Say Amen.

I watched the inauguration, but wasn’t going to comment on it. This was a public relations event and I don’t like pomp and ceremony. Too much like a coronation for me. But the benediction, or rather the end of it, was the bomb. I was surprised to read that Dr. Lowery’s little beat poem was criticized “as divisive and racist against white people, since it appears to suggest that whites do not currently embrace what is right, while exhorting perceived hardships and hopes faced by other races.” I don’t know who is doing the criticizing, but I didn’t think it was divisive against whites, any more than characterizing Asians as “mellow” is racist or suggesting Native Americans have not succeeded in life is stereotyping. It was a poem for crying out loud, done in a style familiar to someone born in 1921. Get over it.


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