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THE RELIGION CORNER: A Day On, Not a Day Off

Lyndia Grant | 1/15/2014, 3 p.m.
Lyndia Grant

The national holiday to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is approaching, a time when the country, and perhaps the world reflects on what it would be like if we would live in peace around the world, without regard to our race, color or creed. We are reminded to help one another, coined “A Day on Not a Day Off!”

In contrast, last week as I watched “12 Years a Slave” it was a reminder of how far African Americans have come. Wouldn’t it be a shame if we would forget to tell our younger generations from whence we’ve come? The movie was a true story, the events in the movie occurred, beginning in 1841, when slavery in America was in full force down south. There were, however, free Negro’s living in the northern states, above the Mason-Dixon Line.

Solomon Northup was born a free man in Minerva, N.Y., in 1808. During the 1830s, Northup became locally known as an excellent fiddler, married and they had three children. Solomon’s wife and children had gone away for a three week trip where she would work as a cook to earn extra money for the family, two men offered Northup generous wages to join a traveling musical show, but soon after he accepted, they sold him into slavery. He was subsequently sold at auction in New Orleans. Northup served a number of masters – some brutally cruel and others whose humanity he praised. After years of bondage, he came into contact with an outspoken abolitionist from Canada, who sent letters to notify Northup's family of his whereabouts.

An official state agent was sent to Louisiana to reclaim Northup, and he was successful through a number of coincidences. After he was freed, Northup filed kidnapping charges against the men who had defrauded him, but the lengthy trial that followed was ultimately dropped because of legal technicalities, and he received no remuneration. He did write the book about this ordeal, and the movie is based on this true story.

One hundred years from 1863 from Northup’s death to 1963, African Americans here in America would suffer brutalities of remarkable proportions.

It would take one woman to kick off a long campaign against injustices; Rosa Parks decided that she was tired of being treated unequally. She worked as a secretary for the NAACP, and she would not get up out of her seat for white riders one day.

On December 5, 1955 everything changed. That is when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. hit the national stage. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, in which African Americans refused to ride city buses in Montgomery, Ala., to protest segregated seating, took place from December 5, 1955, to December 20, 1956, and is regarded as the first large-scale demonstration against segregation in the U.S.

The boycott of public buses by blacks in Montgomery began on the day of Parks' court hearing and lasted 381 days. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ordered Montgomery to integrate its bus system, and one of the leaders of the boycott, a young pastor named Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-68), emerged as a prominent national leader of the American civil rights movement in the wake of the action.

Take time to see that your children and grandchildren know what has happened here in America. We don’t want this history to ever repeat itself. In the movie “12 Years a Slave” slave masters quote scriptures about why slaves should listen to their masters.

I was honored that my pastor, the Rev. Dr. James Coleman asked me to head up Watch Night, where the committee shared this plight with the congregants.

Lyndia Grant is an author, inspirational and motivational speaker, radio talk show host and columnist; visit her new website at www.lyndiagrant.com and, call 202-518-3192; email, lyndiagrant@gmail.com. Tune in Fridays at 6 p.m., to the radio talk show, 1340 AM, WYCB, a Radio One Station.