Of course, practicing the morality of commemoration, we cannot pass the month of July without paying due respect to our foremother, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, born July 10, 1875, rested in peace, and rose to glory on May 18 1955
Let us then pour out a libation for her and lift up her righteous name in memory and honor for the great work and service she performed in the world and for the heritage she self-consciously left us. Because so it is written in the sacred Husia “To do that which is of value is forever, a man called by his work dies not, for his name is exalted and remembered for it.”
And so, in the tradition of the ancestors, we raise and praise the name and work of this foremother of ours, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, born to Mr. and Mrs. Sam and Patsy McLeod, who taught her to value freedom, to loves to learn, and always to do good.
Let us lift up her five royal and righteous names, as was done by our ancestors in ancient Egypt, which speaks of the great woman she was and always will be to us and to the world. Master teacher who taught us the good, dignifying and godly way to walk in the world. Dear mothergreat among the many who nourished and sustained us in our early history as a new African people emerging from the holocaust of enslavement and rebuilding.
Institutional builder which raised above the earth pyramids of opportunity, structures which housed our aspirations and developed our interests as a people. Freedom fighter who fought to clear the forests of oppression and injustice and to secure and protect the rights, self-determination and dignity of Africans and other peoples of color around the world. peacemaker, who challenged the nations of the world to lay down their arms and join minds, hands and hearts to build a fellowship of freedom, mutual respect, equality and peace through justice everywhere.
Nearing the end of his life, Dr. Bethune, like our ancient African ancestors, recorded in writing lessons gleaned from a life of learning, service, sacrifice, and struggle. She left us nine legacies or challenges that, if we embrace them, will change our lives and serve us well in meeting the great challenge she set out to rethink and “remake the world.”
First, Dr. Bethune leaves us the legacy and challenge of love. It challenges us to love ourselves, to cultivate brotherhood and sisterhood among ourselves and with the other peoples of the world, to be “interracial, interreligious and international.”
She rightly wants us to oppose this dangerous form of racist and religious hatred with which the oppressor tries to infect us, making his enemies ours and claiming us as allies in his color-coded rages against freedom, justice and world peace. Our task, she teaches, is to create a new model for how people should relate and act together in the world.
But the emphasis is always on putting love at the center of our lives in our families and communities and especially between men and women whose relationships will shape and influence all others. Therefore, in the family and community, in every house and down every street, we must suppress hatred and enmity, end hurt and violence and instead practice healing and peace and cultivate the love we all long for and seek private and public places.
She left us too hopeborn of the historical record of our people’s rise from the holocaust of enslavement, maintaining their dignity and humanity despite the most dehumanizing conditions, enduring and prevailing against all odds and leaving a legacy of “ceasing striving and struggle” on and up and thus a more a better world for future generations.
Besides, she left us the thirst for education. “Knowledge,” she said, “is the prime need of the hour.” But she warned that it must be knowledge and education, not for enslavement but for freedom, not for cooperation in our own oppression but for the service of our people. We must, she says, “discover the dawn and then share it with our children and the masses who need it most.”
Her next legacy is the challenge of developing trust in each other, not only for protection against our oppression, but for the development and flourishing of our lives and the necessary planning and cooperation for the common good. She leaves us too respect for the use of power, a force directed toward freedom, human justice, and the service of our people. And in the pursuit of power, she asks us to “choose leaders who are wise, courageous, and of great moral stature and ability” and “who will work not for themselves but for others.”
Her next legacy is faith, faith in God, in ourselves and above all in our people. She was certain that we love and serve the Creator, but she was concerned about our will to love and serve our people despite racism and class considerations. In doing so, she asks us to challenge ourselves and our leaders to believe and serve the people. For she says, “The measure of our progress as a race is in exact relation to the depth of faith in our people sustained by our leaders.”
Moreover, it teaches us that we should imitate the deep and abiding faith of our ancestors. Indeed, she says, “our ancestors (and forefathers) fought for freedom in conditions far more difficult than those we face now, but they never lost their faith. Their persistence paid off handsomely. (And) We must never forget their sufferings and sacrifices because they are the basis of our nation’s progress.
Bethune is also leaving us racial dignity, the challenge for blacks to “maintain their human dignity at all costs.” It reminds us that “we are the guardians and inheritors of a great civilization” and that we must bear the weight and glory of our history with strength, dignity and determination.
She asked us to remember constantly that “We have given something to the world as a race, and therefore we are proud and fully aware of our place in the general picture of the development of mankind.”
We must indeed remember and respect the fact that we are the fathers and mothers not only of mankind, but of human civilization itself, and consciously act accordingly. Furthermore, she leaves us with “a desire to live in harmony with (our) fellows.”
She wants us to recognize that “the problem of color is global,” but she wants our people to “behave naturally in all relationships,” with dignity, responsibility, and respect for their own heritage, and to constantly seek and build a common language with others.
Finally, Dr. Bethune leaves us the legacy and the responsibility to our young people. She urges us to prepare them for the future, to inspire and nurture their “zeal for building a better world” to ensure they “are not discouraged from striving for greatness” and not to let them forget their responsibilities themselves to release and serve the masses in our “ceasing striving and struggle” as a people to bring, increase and sustain the good in our lives and the world.
Nana Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune sums it up by saying, “Faith, courage, brotherhood (and sisterhood), dignity, ambition, responsibility—these are needed as never before.” Because the fight for freedom, justice, and equality is still unfinished. Indeed, “The gates of liberty are (only) half ajar. (And) We must contain them fully” in a righteous and relentless struggle so that we and all people and people can be truly free and flourish and bring inclusive and ever-expanding good into the world.
Dr. Maulana Karenga, Professor and Chair of African Studies, California State University-Long Beach; Executive Director, African American Cultural Center (USA); Creator of Kwanzaa; and author of Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture and Struggle Essays: Position and Analysis, www.AfricanAmericanCulturalCenter-LA.org; www.OfficialKwanzaaWebsite.org; www.MaulanaKarenga.org.
The Legacies of Nana Mary M. Bethune: Knowledge, Sacrifice, Service and Struggle – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel Source link The Legacies of Nana Mary M. Bethune: Knowledge, Sacrifice, Service and Struggle – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel