Ella Josephine Baker, whose words and witness are captured in this song, was a civil rights leader that sought to cultivate not only her own leadership but the leadership in others in the pursuit of equality — a state of equality and justice in which all truly meant all. Like Ms. Baker’s words, we who believe and struggle for freedom and justice cannot rest. Though its okay to catch our breath and take care of ourselves through rest, we need to remember to get up again and keep going. We must also be mindful that the struggle is not limited to just us but will continue and will live on after us—just like we are continuing to live Ms. Baker’s struggle.
Ms. Baker was an activist who believed that the pursuit of freedom was not limited to solely racial justice or harmony, but was also connected to the women’s movement and other civil rights struggles who sought to counter “tyranny”. Like her, we too must realize that our struggles are interconnected—as we advocate for racial justice and harmony with our difficult voices that refuse to bow to dominant oppressive narratives, we are also advocating for access to healthcare for people living with HIV/AIDS, a just legal system that supports survivors of rape rather then re-victimize them into silence, a school system that is safe for learning and thriving for LGBTQ youth, a healthcare system that heals people into wholeness rather then break their wallets and dehumanize them to copayments and insurance premiums. Though we can’t do it all, and we are not expected to, it is important to be mindful of the rippling effect our just cause will have on other movements for equality and vice versa. Ms. Baker said that “we are not fighting for the freedom of the Negro alone, but for the freedom of the human spirit, a larger freedom that encompasses all mankind.”
How is your passion for justice, in whatever form it takes, enriched by other movements and how is your struggle enriching others? What is keeping you (and what is holding you up) in the struggle for freedom?