Stolen Hands, Stolen Lands: From 1619 to a Just Future
Reverend Barber delivers the homily.
On Sunday, October 20th, the 400 Years of Inequality National Organizers partnered with Union Theological Seminary and The Riverside Church to host a moving event with song, dance, music, speeches from history, and a fiery sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II.
Reverend Barber outlined the barbarism, evil, and hypocrisy of the system of chattel slavery and colonialism that built our nation's wealth at the expense of the many, and called on each of us to join him in a moral movement to end inequality saying: “I choose to believe that on this 400th anniversary, that the America which has never been yet, may nevertheless still be. Together with people from every race, creed, color and sexuality, I am committed to working with you all to build a moral fusion coalition in the 21st century. Is there anybody else in here ready to build?”
Watch the full program here on Youtube.
The evening began with a procession of clergy led by dancer and choreographer Rev. Melville Miller accompanied by the drumming of Hasan Bakr, Victor See Yuen, and Chioneso Bakr.
Left, Center: Rev. Melville Miller. Right: Rev. Ken Alston.
Rev. Ken Alston’s soulful rendition of Wade In the Water echoed through the nave and through our bodies before Rev. Michael Livingstone welcomed the congregation, followed by Rev. Fred Davie of Union Theological Seminary leading us in the opening prayer. Next, our own Dr. Mindy Fullilove framed the event and introduced the origins of the 400 Years of Inequality project.
Left to Right: Musicians Joey Guidre, Chioneso Bakr, Hasan Bakr, and Victor See Yuen; Dr. Aliou Niang; Dr. Mindy Fullilove.
The evening featured ritual and prayers from Dr. Aliou Niang, Chief Dwayne Perry of the Ramapough Lenape, Hon. Ruth Messinger, Dr. Debbie Almontaser, and Rev. Kevin VanHook. Musicians Joey Guidre (Bassoon) and Salieu Suso (Kora) performed unique compositions. Angel Acosta led a “seven generations” meditation accompanied by Margaux Simmon’s flute. An ensemble of chorus members - Dr. Sandra Montes, Dr. Robert Fullilove, Molly Kaufman, Robin Reese, Gia Love, Destyn Martin, Michael Roberson, and Dr. Aliou Niang - read powerful speeches and statements from people who have led the call for justice and coalition throughout America’s history.
Introduced by the joyous and strong voices of gospel singers Yara Allen and Rev. Shyrl Uzzell, Rev. Barber took to the pulpit. In his keynote sermon, Rev. Barber explained how “bad biology, sick sociology, political pathology, evil economics, corruptible courts, militia madness, and heretical ontology...are the seven sins that under-girded the system of slavery.” The evening ended with closing remarks from Rev. Forbes and Gia Love reading the words of Harriet Tubman.
Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Yara Allen and Rev Shyrll Uzzell; Rev. William J. Barber II delivers the homily; Dr. Sandra Montes; Gia Love; Michael Roberson; Dr. Debbie Almontaser; Angel Acosta; Kora player Salieu Suso; Chief Dwayne Perry of the Ramapough Lenape; Hon. Ruth Messinger; Robyn Reese; Dr. Bob Fullilove; Molly Rose Kaufman; ensemble membersreading excerpts of historical speeches from those struggling for equality in the past; a seven generations meditation led by Angel Acosta.