Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Here is Joseph Lowery's benediction.

Part of the prayer is directly from Lift Every Voice and Sing, a song right out of the Episcopal Hymnal. The Rev. Dr. Lowery is a Civil Rights icon, considered the dean of the movement. He and Martin Luther King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957.

He ended his prayer with a nice twist on the old school-yard chant - to the old schoolyard rhyme: If you're white, you're all right/If you're brown, stick around/If you're yellow, you're mellow/If you're black, get back.

Dr. Lowery prayed instead for the time when "Black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, and the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what's right."

And the people said, "Amen. Amen. Amen."


James said...

And for the first time in my 51 years of life, Katie, I think the crowd, and America actually mean that "amen."

"Lift Every Voice" was written as the "national" anthem for the Black American Community. It is one of my favourite hymns.

Pat Klemme said...

Splendid! Amen, amen!! He grabbed lines from more than one hymn by my count, but he sure strung them together elegantly.
Thanks for posting this, Katie.

Unknown said...

I think white people should be insulted and offended by the inaugural benediction. He expressing his hope for a future in which the “brown would stick around,” the “yellow would be mellow,” the “red man would get ahead, man,” and the “white will embrace what is right". What! “White would embrace the right?!” Didn't many white people vote for Obama? This is SUCH a racist and insulting comment!

Katie Sherrod said...

Oh, please, Mari. Your lack of knowledge of the history of the Civil Rights Movement is showing.

As I said in the blog, the chant he ended the prayer with was a twist on a truly racist chant -- "if you're black, stay back."

It was a joyous day. Try to enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

I loved the speech,until the end. I come from a northern state that's 95% white and I'd never heard that "schoolyard chant" and found the comment insulting. If we are truly going to be a united nation of many colors, raising up the minorities is necessary, but does it have to be done by always saying how horrible whites are?

Enjoy the day, I did. Enjoy the end of his speech, nope.

Fr Craig said...

I thought his was the best prayer of the day - the cadence and rhythm of the best kind of black preaching. And, yes, there's a difference - thank God. Like you, K - I couldn't stop weeping. When was the last time we say hundreds of thousands of black Americans waving OUR flag (that is America's flag). I still can't get over it - and it is the first time this 57 year old 'boomer' has been this proud of my country.