Faith, Freedom, and the Future

The Positive Community’s Cultural Literacy Initiative
presents the 2014 Grand Jubilee Calendar commemorating
the 150th sesquicentennial anniversar y season
of the Great Emancipation. This year’s theme: Faith,
Freedom, and the Future, Coming Up Through Great Tribulation.
It’s a celebration of the beauty and dignity of a people. The
words and images a reflection of truth and goodness—
thoughts and ideals. It is the ecumenical faith and worship
experience of the contemporar y African Diaspora as seen
through the lens of photographer Bob Gore.

Coming Up Through Great Tribulation
The farther the Negro gets from his historical antecedents in time, the
more tenuous become his conceptual ties, the emptier his social conceptions,
the more superficial his visions. His one great and present hope is
to know and understand his Afro-American history in the United States
more profoundly. Failing that, and failing to create a new synthesis and
social theory of action, he will suffer the historical fate described by the
philosopher who warned that “Those who cannot learn from their history
are doomed to repeat it.”

The above is an excerpt from the concluding passage of
the late Harold Cruse’s 1967 epic, Crisis of the Negro
Intellectual. It is the ver y last paragraph of this ground-breaking
historical analysis and critique on black leadership in
20th century America. The book ends with a final admon
ition: “Those who cannot learn from their history are doomed to
repeat it.”
One hundred and fifty years ago, on this day, in 1864, one
year after the Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil War
raged on; a war that had cost over 600,000 lives. It was the
war that eventually ended slavery. In 1865, the Thirteenth
Amendment was passed by both legislative Houses and
signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln, abolishing
forever slaver y in the United States.
Now, more than ever it is absolutely essential that we tell
our own stor y, our American story to each other. The ability
to compete and prosper in today’s market-driven economy is
proportionate to a knowledge of self and one’s own history.
Sure, there will always be those who make money and get
rich in these confusing, ultra-individualistic times. But, real
prosperity and enduring, creative wealth are always founded
upon community-building ideals: self-acceptance, selfreliance
and self-respect—teamwork. Check the records of
any successful ethnic group or organization and you will discover
that these are the sustaining values along with education
and hard work that move a people forward—generation
to generation to generation. Let us teach our young people
to choose their heroes wisely.
Cultural Literacy
The progress of our children and the integrity of African
American culture — values and traditions — mean everything!
This year, we honor the contribution of the
Intellectual — historians, educators and scholars who have
dedicated their professional careers to the research, understanding
and the interpretation of Black life
in America.
Cultural literacy is the cause of our times and the conversation
about our future. Who will teach the children about
their history — the trials and tribulations and triumphs of a
people? What must we do to promote, protect and preserve
our very best from the enemies of progress; an entrenched
unjust, greed driven, minority of shrewd, wicked, designing
men who would take unfair advantage of an unsuspecting,
vulnerable majority — the young, the poor and the
unlearned — for selfish, short term gain and profit; those
who seek to suppress and exploit African American creative
talents and gifts, effectively marginalizing and obscuring the
value of our people’s mighty contribution to America and
world popular culture?
Cultural literacy is a living narrative, a highly qualitative
educational experience. Cultural literacy is the ability to
read, write, speak and comprehend the English language
while being conversant in matters of relevant history. Ideally,
cultural literacy should be taught in the home, churches and
community institutions as well as in our schools. Cultural literacy
is about collective knowledge, wisdom and destiny!
Never forget: culture is to a community, nation or race what
the soul is to a man or woman, the combined ministries of experience,
wisdom, faith and hope. Ultimately, cultural literacy is the
story of the people of God, with the mighty hand of
Providence, “Coming up through Great Tribulation!”

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