Freedom and Justice for All

The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me”…If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, [may my right hand forget cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth—Psalm 137:5-6]  Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852 — ”What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”


For one to go forward, they must look back. As people of African descent, we call that Sankofa. I submit to you that America of 2020 would do well to look into the annals of its complex history to securean understanding of the present hour and to work toward a brighter future. God has raised persons willing to give their all for the sake of justice and righteousness. Perhaps the greatest orator ever produced within our shores was Frederick Douglass. This internationally renowned abolitionist and orator was invited by President Millard Fillmore to speak on an occasion celebrating the 76th birthday of the nation. Douglass, a fearless debater and public speaker who had one master, God Almighty, used the opportunity not to wax poetically before the high and mighty, but rather to bring some uncomfortable truths to light, in hopes of moving the conscience of the people.

Our present movement is filled with uncomfortable truths. Black men and women are the majority of populations in prisons. We have the highest level of health disparities in America. In the age of Obamacare, we still lead the country on a per capita basis in chronic illnesses. Our rates of hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes (sugar) almost double the rates of White Americans. While some of this can be placed on heredity, eating, and exercise, a great deal of it has to with the stress of structural racism and how Blacks struggle for success in every institution in America. While police brutality, finally made public by the smartphone and body cameras are systemic of the abuse Blacks encounter, in more subtle ways, there are knees on our necks daily. The following is but one example.


The State of Maryland has lost a Civil Rights Case brought by Morgan State University former President, Dr. Earl S. Richardson over unfair funding for Black Colleges. For over a century the State has slighted the Colleges that primarily serve African American students while giving higher shares of the public dollars and resources to schools with primarily white student populations. Richardson, my former College Recruiter and fellow Maryland Eastern Shore Hawk, waged this war for fairness for over 15 years! The numbers didn’t lie. Not until forced to do right by Black students has the “Blue and Democratic Party Led,” Maryland decided to seek to be fair to Black College students. The 2021 State Budget was to reflect this movement to fairness (pre-coronavirus). See, what Richardson has been saying is that “Black Lives Matter.” No, he did not use a poster. He did not march anywhere but to the halls of justice. What he was saying is what Douglass said in his speech “the constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare call to question and to denounce” the current action.


See, today’s fight for justice and righteousness is a driving movement that calls America to live true to her creed that all persons are created equally and gifted by God with some inalienable rights. God-given rights to justice and fairness are woven in the Constitution of the United States. When we celebrate the 244th birthday of America, we are celebrating the standards that make America different from many places in the world. We should honor those standards but we must first honor God.


The divine work of Mt. Olive and all places that call themselves churches, is to pursue the agenda of God. “To do justly, love mercy and walk humbly before God” (Micah 6:6-8). The spirit of God is moving. It is why our Bishop, LaTrelle Easterling is marching and advancing an anti-racist agenda for the Baltimore-Washington Conference. I have signed that pledge and decreed that Mt. live will live and act as an Anti-Racist Church. It is why young Kevin Jackson, Jr. organized a Juneteenth Rally on the parking lot of Mt. Olive that brought 150 citizens together to celebrate.

The work Mt. Olive participated in with our Community Ministry in the Spring of 2019; bringing together diverse congregations to build community goals was a driving action led by biblical principles. We must continue such work in the future. Beloved Community requires intentional work in advancing God’s call for justice.


Yes, Methodist preacher Frederick Douglass was right to look back at the American Constitution and the Bible in order to look forward to a day of freedom for enslaved Blacks. We must look back to both the Bible and the Constitution to make the promises of democracy real for all people.


Pastor Dana M. Jones