Extract from Leslye Colvin (USA), “Life, Freedom and Dignity: Reflections of a Black American Catholic” in Visions and Vocations:
When I listen to Mass readings of Moses leading his people from bondage to freedom, I hear it as an invitation to remember the bondage of my African ancestors and the continuing struggles of my people simply to have their dignity recognized in theory and in practice. As a child, Jesus learned of this journey from slavery to liberation, and his people’s continuing faith in God. In my own childhood, the song “Let My People Go” resonated as an ancient and modern call that was deeply personal.
As history shows, these struggles persist until a single event appears to become a catalyst for change. Those engaged in the struggle know well the tears and heartache borne along the margins, knowing that at some point God will answer not only our prayers but those of our ancestors whose trauma I cannot begin to grasp. In a single moment, their lives were forever changed as they were kidnapped as people and sent into slavery as cargo. To their posterity, they gifted an undying desire for freedom as affirmed generations later in the lyrics “Before I’d be a slave, I’ll be buried in my grave. And go home to my Lord and be free.”1