“Then I said to the officials, the officers, and the rest of the people, “The work is very spread out, and we are far apart from each other along the wall. When you hear the trumpet sound, come and gather where we are. Our God will fight for us!”” Nehemiah 4:19-20 CEB

Umoja (Unity)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

It’s important for us to come together as we try to rebuild our communities as African Americans. The black community is no longer monolithic. We have four distinct communities. We have the middle class that are dispersed throughout surrounding suburbs. This sector of black America has been blessed to economically progress while still under the strain of the middle class crunch. Then there is the “abandoned poor” who are disillusioned with the American Dream and feel like they will never have the middle class lifestyle actualized.  Then there is the interracial sector that doesn’t necessarily identify as black but society often reminds that they are still black just like OJ. Lastly, there is the African immigrant population that doesn’t really identify with the African American population due to propaganda of institutional racist understanding as to why there are so many poor blacks. They ask, “Why don’t the abandoned poor just work harder like us to achieve the American Dream?”

Wouldn’t it be something if all of these groups were unified?

The twelve tribes of Israel came back to help Nehemiah rebuild the walls in Jerusalem. They were vulnerable to terrorist attacks and cultural exploitation.

  1. They don’t want us to win.  Even as they were trying to rebuild they had death threats from people outside their community that didn’t want them to rebuild. We cannot allow threats to keep us from progress. Do not fear the one that can destroy your body but fear God who can destroy body and soul.
  2. They don’t want us to talk to each other. The other problem they had was that they were too spread out on the wall. They didn’t have good communication. There are plenty of people “doing the work” of social justice in Memphis. We just don’t talk to each other. The first thing slave masters did to new slaves was to mix different tribes up so they wouldn’t communicate with each other. Divide and conquer. That strategy should not be able to work in the 21st century unless we choose not to communicate with each other. Can you hear me now?!
  3. They don’t want us to come together. Nehemiah told them that when they hear the trumpet sound that they were to all come together in one place. The sound of the trumpet symbolizes the preached word of God. If we could all come together in one place and strategize on how we rebuild our community we would be unstoppable! 

Memphis is 60% African American but we are so spread out! We have 3,000 churches but we are so spread out! We have multiple grassroots organizations but we are so spread out. We have many great civic organizations but we are so spread out. We have the divine nine in Memphis but we are so spread out.

What if we all came together under one Super Organization called MICAH (Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope) and created a power base that could no longer be ignored? What if this coalition pulled every sector of Memphis together? Blacks, whites, and browns? Rich and poor? Muslims and Christians, middle class and poor? Jew and Gentile?

When you hear the trumpet will you come help rebuild?

Dear God,

We are ready to rebuild. Our city has gone as low as it could go now help us to come together to rebuild. Unify us around the moral objective to make this a city of good abode. Let us build a bridge that connects the “haves” to the “have nots” let us rebuild walls that secure all and not segregate some. Let us rebuild an economy that obliterates poverty by providing living wages as we create more jobs. Unify this polarized and splintered city to rise from the ashes is shame and segregation to unification of a progressive people who can no longer be scattered along the divided wall.

In Jesus’ Name,