We now have just 3 days left in 2016 and I wanted to take just a few minutes out to address something that I keep on hearing about 2017.
I keep hearing that 2017 is going to be a terrible year. I even hear some people saying it’s going to be “the end of the world” or “Armageddon.” I heard some religious people this weekend saying “Jesus was coming back soon.”
And I get it, after seeing our first Black president elected, and re-elected, the spectacle of seeing the man who denied President Obama’s very humanity and citizenship elected to replace him is devastating.
I sincerely believe that Donald Trump is a terrible human being. I’ve dedicated much of the past 18 months of my life to stopping him and I will continue to do so, but this morning I want to remind you of what we have already endured. This morning I want to remind you of what we have already overcome.
From 1525 to 1866, a period of 341 years, tens of millions of Africans were forced out of their homes, away from their families and lands, and into the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Husbands were ripped from wives, children were separated from their mothers, siblings were sent off not only to different plantations, but different nations, as Africans were sent all over Europe and the Americas.
For 341 years, Africans endured the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the horrors that came with it.
So listen, yes, Donald Trump is a terrible human being, but you have stared down terrible human beings before, and survived.
From 1865 until this very day, the United States has been in a period we either call Jim Crow or the New Jim Crow. We have endured widespread lynching, we have endured water hoses and dogs, we have endured backs of busses, and we have endured humiliation and segregation. We are currently enduring mass incarceration and police brutality.
We endured Montgomery. We endured Birmingham. We endured the assassinations of Malcolm & Martin. We endured the assassinations of Medgar Evers & Fred Hampton.
We endured COINTELPRO and the systemic government destruction of every civil and human rights movement we’ve ever built.
We endured the genocide of Black Wall Street in Tulsa. We endured Hurricane Katrina. We have endured a century of substandard housing and education.
Whatever they have thrown at us, we have endured.
Do not be afraid. Do not allow fear to grip your mind. Do not be overcome with worry or dread. Do not allow the possible stress of tomorrow or of the unknown challenges that will surely come our way, do not allow them to keep you in a self-imposed bondage.
I am deeply concerned about Donald Trump, but we have faced down tens of thousands of bullies and bad men and lived to tell the story. He is not new. His lies, his ways, his strategies, are not new. They are as old as this world and if you allow the threat of who he may be convince you that the end is near, then you have given him far more credit than he deserves.
He’s bad, but you’re great. You stand on the shoulders of countless ancestors who stared men just like him in the face. We are the lineage of Ida B. Wells and Frederick Douglas. We are the descendants of Nat Turner. We are proud. We are strong. We are the realized dreams of our ancestors.
And I will close with this thought.
I do not know exactly what 2017 will bring. I agree that it will be problematic and fierce, but I believe in myself, I believe in you, I believe in us. We have endured, survived, and thrived before, and I be damned if Donald Trump is going to stop us now.