Boston Trinity Celebrates Black History Month
Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept as we thought of Jerusalem. We put away our harps, hanging them on the branches of poplar trees. For our captors demanded a song from us. Our tormentors insisted on a joyful hymn:
But how can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a pagan land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget how to play the harp. May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I fail to remember you, if I don't make Jerusalem my greatest joy. --Psalm 137:1-6
And I will deal severely with all who have oppressed you. I will save the weak and helpless ones;
I will bring together those who were chased away. I will give glory and fame to my former exiles, wherever they have been mocked and shamed. On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again. I will give you a good name, a name of distinction, among all the nations of the earth, as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes. I, the Lord, have spoken!" --Zephaniah 3:19-20
English, History, and Bible faculty member Mr. Geoff Hicks opened Chapel Wednesday morning by singing the African-American spiritual "Hold On Just a Little While Longer," as Boston Trinity Academy celebrates Black History Month. Following this lovely rendition, Mr. Hicks spoke of two struggles which have historically shaped the Black Church in America: The struggle to overcome injustice and finding the best method to eradicate it altogether.
Black History Month, Mr. Hicks said, is a time to cry out to God on behalf of those who are suffering, a time to repent of America's sins of slavery and racism, and a time to honor our black predecessors. It is a commemorative period that acknowledges the atrocities suffered by, celebrates the contributions made by, and dignifies the divine souls of black people. "Black History and Church History are certainly linked by a co-dependence," Mr. Hicks stated. "The study of one without the other is incomplete."
Mr. Hicks read a litany of black heroes, from Crispus Attucks, killed in the Boston Massacre, to the men and women who fought in the World Wars and Vietnam, to those who stood up for their civil rights in the 1960s alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He referred to sports figures, authors, musicians, and politicians, all of whom lived with resilience, fortitude, ingenuity, and dignity. "In order to make sense of their lives of courage," he said, "it is necessary for us to pivot towards the black church." He pointed to the faith and action of the black church, which characterized a commitment to eradicating slavery while caring for the souls of black individuals. The black church gave hope to and restored the dignity of Africans who lived in America. Many of these Africans embraced Christianity, which became a thread that held together the cultural fabric of this people group, giving birth to spirituals such as "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child," "A Better Day a-Comin'," "That Great Gettin' up Mornin'," "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," and many others.
Moving on through black church history, Mr. Hicks reminded Chapel attendees that the black church has always been about more than religion; it has also been a place of refuge for the oppressed. It has been involved in the fight for equal rights and freedom. He also surmised that the black church has a responsibility to spread the gospel, that worship within the black church is a call to action, a surrendering of the soul to Jesus Christ in order to receive deliverance from oppression. "It is nothing but the blood of Jesus which allows the oppressed to declare, 'The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?' If the Church [of Jesus Christ] is to be prosperous and healthy, we must listen to one another's stories, bear one another's burdens, and heal one another's pain and suffering," Mr. Hicks continued. "We all need cleansing. And if we are to grow as a society, then we have to come together with linked arms to examine the pains of those who have historically been pushed to the margins, those within our community. We need to not only celebrate the good moments, but must look unflinchingly upon the hardships of our past and present, so as not to repeat our sins in the future."