Let’s set our Children Free

Juneteenth marks the date in 1865 when many black slaves in Texas finally learned they were free from federal troops arriving in Galveston after the end of the Civil War, more than two and a half years after President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves in the Confederate states. In most years Juneteenth is a jubilant celebration, but this year has been a stark reminder of exactly why we choose to commemorate and honor that day and why history is so important. I’m glad the president learned a little bit of history he was unaware of and postponed his Tulsa speech for one day. In my dear friend and beloved role model Fannie Lou Hamer’s eternal words, nobody’s free until everybody’s free.

Below is a prayer by Reverend James Forbes, Senior Minister Emeritus of Riverside Church in New York City and an anchor of the Children’s Defense Fund’s Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute at Haley Farm, to sustain and strengthen us as we carry on the struggle to set all of our children free from poverty, racism and violence.

TO SET ALL THE CHILDREN FREE
“We shall overcome” has got to be more than a frame of mind
It’s working hard in our own backyard—to leave no child behind
“We shall overcome” has got to be more than a children’s prayer
It’s sacrifice, at any price, to show them that we care
“We shall overcome” has got to be more than a memory
It’s a new resolve, to get involved in building community
“We shall overcome” has got to be more than a distant dream
And a place on the freedom team
“We shall overcome” has got to be more than a protest song
It’s a loving vow, to show somehow, we all can get along
“We shall overcome” has got to be more than a melody
It’s a one-by-one till the job is done to set all the children free
“We shall overcome” has got to be more than a freedom song
It’s confidence, being convinced that right will conquer wrong
“We shall overcome” has got to be more than a song we sing
It’s the will to fight, to make things right, so the freedom bell can ring
For the children, ring
For the children, ring
Through the power of the Spirit, let’s empower each other to go out with power to set all the children free.