A Knock at Midnight: The Wake-Up Call

Happy New Year! We begin this year with thoughts
about the final year of this Grand Jubilee season
of The Great Emancipation (2013-2015). In 2013,
we observed the 150th anniversary of the signing of the
Emancipation Proclamation, a wartime act during the
Civil War that set in motion an end to 250 years of brutal
bondage in the United States. In 1865, the institution of
slavery was forever abolished with the passing of the 13th
Amendment by both houses of Congress and signed into
law by President Abraham Lincoln.
In November 2014, we mourned the loss of a great
intellectual, historian and dear friend to The Positive
Community, Professor Clement A. Price (see page __). In
2012, as we began preparing for the observance of the
Emancipation anniversary, Dr. Price made a very clear
distinction: while the Emancipation Proclamation was indeed
a legal, political maneuver, it should be forever viewed by
African Americans in the context of a momentous spiritual and
cultural event. Much in the way that Exodus is seen as the
Israelites’ liberation from bondage in pharaoh’s Egypt through
the power of Almighty God. Clem chose to refer to our
American experience as The Great Emancipation (see The
Positive Community, Winter issue 2013).
So, moving forward, there must be further conversation
about how we see ourselves today: as descendants of
ex-slaves set free by Abraham Lincoln; or as liberated
sons and daughters of the Most High God–descendants
of The Great Emancipation? If you chose the latter,
then, as a people, we are accountable to, and responsible
for the blessings of our freedom.
To Love and Be Loved
Over the holidays I read a most fascinating book, The
Spirituals and the Blues by James H. Cone, Charles A. Briggs,
Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union
Theological Seminary, New York City. “. . . Widely regarded
as one of the most influential theologians in America . . .”
As one reviewer described it: The small masterpiece shows
how two forms of song—the spirituals and the blues—helped sustain
slaves and their children in the mist of “a lot of powerful
Dr. Cone sums up his research study as follows:
Through the power of human imagination, defined by their
struggle against slavery and segregation, blacks created a special
world for themselves—a world defined by justice and peace,
where women, men and their children can freely love and be
loved. He wrote, “Music has been and continues to be the most
significant creative art expression of African Americans.”
Fate and Destiny
Early on New Year’s Eve, while channel surfing, I came
across BET’s (Black Entertainment Television) Top 100
Video Countdown. They were counting down the best black
music videos of 2014. It was a most un-attractive sight—ugly
and embarrassing. One hundred videos of men portrayed
as thuggish, criminally minded, sub-human and sex crazed;
the women-folk, scantly clothed, gyrating bodies, glorifying
money and sex to tuneless sounds played on synthesizer
and drum machines, a total absence of melodic or harmonic
structure. Obscene language and vulgar images are celebrated
and marketed as trendy and fashionable.
After each set of videos, the BET cameras would scan
an audience full of enthusiastically cheering teenagers,
insensitive to insult. An entire generation being led
astray; The Seven Deadly Sins packaged and sold as an
attractive lifestyle choice. Surely, if history is to judge,
ours is a civilization in steep decline with absolutely devastating
What accounts for this negative trend? How is it that
in less than a single generation (25 years) we have gone
from a community of acclaimed artists: singers, songwriters
and musicians—the best in the world; to commercially
driven, music-less, crude, rappers and (mostly) second-
rate entertainers? How could we have ever allowed
the image of our young people to be projected and so
unmercifully exploited before the world as backward,
morally degenerate and culturally delinquent; devoid of
righteousness and values? Can anyone deny, with a
straight face, that popular culture in our communities
today has become an environmental and quality of life
issue? To whom have we surrendered our creative talent
and cultural sovereignty?
The dynamics involved are too many to cover here. It
deserves much more research, analysis and critique. But,

we should first acknowledge that we are at the historic
crossroads in our freedom journey—a cultural impasse.
We must decide for ourselves whether we continue our
current, un-wholesome course or to move forward
toward a positive community ideal. Ultimately, it is the
hand of Providence and the will of the people, descendants
of The Great Emancipation that will determine the
fate and destiny of future generations.
Whose Side are You on?
The times demand that we do something—now to secure
our collective future; to preserve, protect and promote our
very best, our most valuable assets: the children and the culture!
The message of the 2015 Grand Jubilee Calendar
affirms the dignity of our humanity!
One would ask: Bro’. Council, why are you trying to sell me
this calendar? The year has already begun, most people already
have one. My response: This is not your typical everyday calendar,
this document, entitled, Our Children, Our Culture,
Our Faith: A New Language of Freedom speaks to life—a
future of challenges, possibilities and potentials.” It’s an historical
beacon of hope; a positive light that shines brightly and
points the way forward. If you don’t own a Grand Jubilee
Calendar, then you don’t really know what time it is!
The Positive Community’s goal is to see to it that not less
than 10,000 families become owners of this calendar
before the end of Black History Month. Ideally, everyone
should own two: as artwork for your wall; for the coffee
table or desk; and for reflection and conversation with
family, students and friends. Use this calendar as a
fundraiser to support music, arts and cultural literacy
programs for young people at your church, school or
community organization. Order yours today, online
www.thepositivecommunity.com. Or call: 973-233-9200
for two-day bulk delivery.
The title of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s memorable
sermon, “A Knock at Midnight” seems most appropriate
as an urgent call to action–a wake-up call. Each of
us must come to grips with the great spiritual and cultural
crisis of our times. It’s the classic struggle between
good and evil; truth and error; right and wrong; true or
false liberty; the positive or the negative. In the end, I
believe, Truth, Beauty and Goodness will reign; and the
people of God will prevail! Whose side are you on?