The prophet’s voice is buried beneath the narrative of history. The prophet’s voice is muted in this moment when we desperately need the courage of their vision, content of their message, and convictions of their hearts.
This era needs the courage of William Lloyd Garrison who spoke against white supremacy even though angry mobs beat him and dragged him through the streets . Wendell Phillips witnessed one of these attacks and was compelled to become a witness for the same message. Boldly speaking out against white supremacy cost Phillips to lose many of his clients at his law practice but didn’t keep him from printing “Peace if possible. Justice at any rate” on his business cards as he committed to his new vocation. Today we could use people with the conviction of Representative Thaddeus Stevens who condemned the Andrew Johnson’s statement that America was a “white man’s Government” with the response that, “equal rights to all immortal being, no matter what the shape or color of their tabernacle which it inhabits.” His peer in the Senate, Charles Sumner, was steadfast in his criticism of slavery and it resulted in a violent attack in the Senate chambers.
There is a dominant narrative of faith and patriotism in our country that excludes the presence and contributions of people of color. It also excludes the prophetic voices of white leaders, compelled by faith, who plead for justice and equality for all people. This absence is our loss and we grapple to find a way forward without a stronger prophetic voice in our era.
The voice of the prophet has always endured resistance. The same resistance, denial, and abandonment will be experienced by the prophets of today. As long as your voices are silent, we cannot speak together. As long as your message is whispered rather than proclaimed, justice, equality, righteousness, and hope will remain beyond our reach. Unbury the testimony of previous prophets from the narrative of our shared history so that you can garner strength. Today, we look for prophets whose bold proclamations pierce through despair.