God’s Griot, Liberation Through Truth
“You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” After two thousand years, Jesus’ statement still encourages and challenges us. As a black minister, I have become more aware over the ages how important Jesus’ statement is to my people. Before the end of the Civil War in 1865, most African Americans were slaves. They had no rights. They could be raped, sold, whipped, and killed at the whim of someone else.
After the Civil War, America put into place an elaborate legal framework of segregation laws, often called Jim Crow laws, to subjugate African Americans. These laws were more prominent but not exclusive to the southern states. With the Civil Rights movement of
As Apostle Paul writes to the Church at Rome, he says, “How shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14b KJV) He was referring to the truth about Jesus, the Messiah. However, his words are equally true for all. Truth is not restricted to hearing. African Americans cannot act on the truth they do not know. Truth must be preached. Truth must be taught. But, truth also must be written. African Americans need journalists and authors writing truth anchored in God’s perspective about themselves, their history, and the world. In West Africa, storytelling poets, historians, preachers, and musicians called griots, grēōs, told the truth of African faith, culture, and history. Alex Haley said this about griots in Roots: “Finally, I acknowledge an immense debt to the griots of Africa—where today it is rightly said that when a griot dies, it is as if a library has burned to the ground.” This online magazine, God’s Griot, www.godsgriot.com, will communicate the truth about African American, faith, culture, and history. Here is one story showing the black Christian need for someone to tell the black Christian story.
A few years ago, at the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC’s) Black Church Leadership and Family Conference I talked with several black missionaries. SBC’s International Mission Board had sent them to the conference to recruit more black missionaries. These were dedicated Christians sacrificing much to proclaim the Gospel. However, they believed they were an initial phalanx of black missionaries. When people asked, “Where are the black missionaries?” they could respond that they were black missionaries.
When I asked them about black Baptist missionaries in the early 1800s such as Lott Carey, David George, and George Lisle, they had never heard of them. They had never heard of these servants of Christ who spread the Gospel in Canada, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, and Liberia and the United States. No one had ever told them the truth about these black trailblazers. I believe most of them were products of Southern Baptist Churches and white Evangelical education. Most had not grown up in Black Baptist churches which were members of black Baptist denominations. They had not heard about the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Society, the largest black missions organization. They, like most modern Christians, do not appreciate how much throughout history God has acted in the story of African Americans.
God’s Griot’s logo has three elements. The two Adinkra symbols are Akan, Ghanaian hieroglyphics, standing for fundamental truths. Sankofa is represented by a bird looking backward with an egg in its mouth. It is translated “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” We must learn from the past to go forward. In the logo, the Sankofa bird is standing on a book which represents the written transmission of truth. The other symbol is the Gye Nyame. It is translated as “except forGod.” It is similar to El Shaddai in Hebrew, Lord God Almighty. This is an affirmation that God is the God of all. He has the final say. The twoAdinkra symbols appear on tablets representing the covenant that God made with his people through Moses.
God’s Griot comes from a burden God has given me. I am launching it with myself as the lone staff member. I will be the author, publisher, and editor of what is written. I hope it will become a platform for woke black Christians to communicate with, inform and encourage other black Christians. I welcome feedback and help.