Thirty five years ago, on September 12, 1977, Stephen Biko, leader of the Black Consciousness movement in South Africa, died in detention.
He had been beaten and suffered from inadequate – almost non-existent – medical attention. After being taken, naked and in chains, on a 705 mile ride in a Land Rover to a prison hospital (instead of going to the local hospital), he died, a victim of the apartheid system.
Last year I wrote here on his concern that the table of life in South Africa be set by the people, not the outsiders, an insight that has affected me since I read it about thirty years ago.
But today I’d like to share a quote on Black Consciousness that Robert Ellsberg uses in All Saints.
The sense of defeat is what we are fighting against. People must not just give in to the hardship of life. People must develop a hope. People must develop some form of security to be together to look a their problems, and people must, in this way, buildup their humanity.
This is what Biko and others tried to do in the Black Consciousness movement. And this is what I hope happens among the people I serve, perhaps in a small way through my ministry.
The world and the political and economic power structures here in Honduras (and in many other places) treat the poor as if they are worthless and nothing which often reinforces (and, at times, causes) low self-esteem.
What a difference from what Jesus says in today’s Gospel (Luke 6:20):
Fortunate are you who are poor, for yours is the Reign of God.
Would that we remembered the poor – not as victims – but as God’s chosen people who have a mission and a dignity that so many would deny.