“The Overcome”, a liturgy of black remembrance modeled on the Jewish Passover. The awesome history of the passage since capture in Africa invites comparison with the Hebrew exodus and even the Holocaust. Instead of recoiling from the hypercharged distinctions on both sides, scholars might do well to follow the lead of Father Bramble and of Julius Lester...”
Twenty-one years have now passed since the Civil Rights Movement was consummated in the death (sacrifice) of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was concerned about this question: "Where do we go from here?" He addressed that issue in economic and political terms in 1967. This book is also concerned about that very question. Where do we go from here? But its answer is different, in the first instant.
I believe that the first move out of the "crossroads" or dilemma that is suggested by this question about direction must be essentially conceptual. For there is no lack of programs, activities or even money in the black communities of America. We have enough of those. The lack resides elsewhere and the solution, as this book will indicate, is rather simple. But, it does not reside in programs, economics or things material. It is a "conceptual" solution that is needed and that will be offered in this book.
This book is not written to become one among many others that treat black problems, but it is written with the intent that it will serve to change the character and stature of blacks the world over. It seeks to change character, not by changing the name blacks are called or call each other one more time, but by simply adding to the repertoire of black thinking certain essential concepts that are missing—concepts about triumph, winning—the Overcome.
Some would immediately think that this book is simply playing with words. Wrong. One cannot think without concepts. Concepts are more than words alone. They carry descriptions, prescriptions, imperatives, conditions, etc. with them, whether spoken or not.
For example, to tell someone you love that the "roads outside are icy" gives more than a simple description. There is a silent imperative, a command if you will, to be careful in walking or driving. And anyone who understands the true meaning of icy roads would immediately pick up the hidden imperative. In like manner, when through this book I declare the Overcome for blacks worldwide, I am not simply changing the lyrics of a good and popular hymn or song: "We Shall Overcome."
After we establish the Overcome, a black Passover, the character of the black man and woman will change forever. They will now be known as men and women who overcome whatever is negative in their lives or community. The Overcome then becomes a character trait. It is not about money (in the first instance. it will be consequently), but about black propensities, predispositions, tendencies, habits and character. All the missing victory sub-concepts relevant to the black man must now be plugged into the matrix of the super-concept of the Overcome.
The black preacher and other leading change agents will need to offer saving content to the black Overcome, ideas that are already present in the community, but which cannot take root until they are incorporated in the shared value of the society. The Overcome will "collect and hold." will interpret and pass on the successes, winnings, triumphs, victories, large and small of the community. The Overcome, which must be celebrated yearly, on April 4 (around Passover and Easter on the day our primary martyr was sacrificed), will guarantee that as other more creative minds get to work on this redeeming concept of the Overcome.
The black Overcome like the Jewish Passover marks the beginning (not the end) of a victorious walk into the future.