2019 Atlanta

Theme 2019: Remembering and Telling Our Story

“Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story” Psalm: 107:2

We have a powerful story that is filled with pain and pride and filled with triumph and tragedy. No other group of people have started at the same scratch line in life and have accomplished half of what African-Americans have accomplished over the past 400 years. Our story is a storyof self-determination and self-reliance in the face of tremendous opposition and systematic plots of genocide and fratricide. However,the genius of African-Americans can be seen in every area of life from entertainment to engineering; from civic engagement to business acumen; from spiritual practices to religious thoughts that liberate a people once shackled by those who twisted holy talk to justify their end gains.

We have the awesome privilege and responsibility to tell our own story and thereby reclaim control of a narrative that has far too long been dominated by voices that sought to maintain African people at the margins of society and thus classified as ‘other’ at best or rendered ‘invisible’ at worst. Therefore, we must use 2019 as a launching pad from which to correct false information that has served to reinforce the perverse systems of oppression that are rooted in the lingering ideology of enslavement.

The internal work that we are called to undertake will remind African-Americans that although our existence on the shores of North America has been one marked with horrors that cause the hairs on the back of one’s neck to stand at attention-that is merely a part of the saga. The lesser known story is one of making something out of nothing. Creating a community out of chaos. Building the basic structures of what would later develop into institutions that supported the needs of black people socially, spiritually, intellectually, and economically; reflecting African creativity, albeit in a strange land.

Although our road has been rough there is no reason to bow our heads in defeat. The panoramic view of our history provides numerous opportunities to reflect on the many contributions African and African-Americans have made to the advancement of the United States and the rest of humanity. It would be a casualty for anyone to call him or herself a citizen of the world and lack knowledge about the role African and African-Americans have played in shaping the landscape of this world.

Therefore, during this Quad-Centennial Year, let us all become great stewards of the rich story that is the African-American experience in this country. We must remember and retell the story of those who came before us, recognizing that their DNA constitutes the people we are today. In telling our story we will ensure the success of those who are sure to come after us. An African Proverb captures the importance of telling our own story this way, “Until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story.”

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