Legacy of Freedom
February 23, 2019
Rev. Angela Pleasants, District Superintendent of the Catawba Valley District, took a Legacy of Freedom pilgrimage to Selma and Montgomery with 40 laity and clergy. She shares her story here.
I am Togolese, Cote d’Ivoire, Bantu, South African, and Zulu. Yes, I am from the warrior tribe of the Zulu Clan. Being a warrior is in my blood. As I began my Legacy of Freedom trip, I was excited and not sure what to expect. Some make this trip to have a story to tell. I made this trip because I felt the call of my ancestors. This was the birthplace of a great evil that stormed the plains of our country. But, it was also the birthplace of a great movement that graced the hearts of many, the Civil Rights Movement. Our country’s hands are stained with blood that will forever be a part of our fabric. And the blood is rising to tell its story. The story is not words but lives being lived out years later through people like me and others.
At first, I didn’t know why God led me to make this trip. Why would God want me to see a place where when we walked into the Museum of Justice and Peace I had to step onto the very warehouse floor where countless slaves were housed? At least those who survived the cramped voyage over. Or the ones who were able to walk on the shores instead of jumping choosing a watery grave rather than the slave master’s whip. Yes, my feet stood on the very spot where these poor souls stood and waited for their fate. What was my call to this place? Feeling my heart lurch as I stood by this beautiful water fountain in Market Square downtown Montgomery, but could only see what was there before – the auction block where mothers, fathers, boys, and girls stood as they were auctioned off like they were nothing but animals.
God, what do you want me to know as I stand here reflecting----feeling----what is this that I feel? Why did you call me to walk among the 5,000 names of countless men, women, children who were lynched across this blood-soaked country? And, my tired feet walking across Edmund Pettus Bridge. A bridge named after the grand dragon of the Klu Klux Klan. Why? I smile for God gave me my answer. I rise. As the whip of the slave master could not keep my ancestors down, because they knew freedom would come one day. Yes, one day. I rise! Because I too see freedom. God has given me a warrior spirit, the fight of my ancestors. God has given me the prophetic call, and wherever I go, I will rise and let freedom ring. That is what this Legacy of Freedom ride meant to me. #ebonyqueen.
[Photo Caption: Rev. Angela Pleasants at the Peace and Justice museum. Each of these hanging above my head has the county, state and names of brothers and sisters who were lynched across our country.]