The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Isaiah 9:2-7 is a poem of promise. In the backdrop, the Syro-Ephraimitic war was remembered. War is always a time of destabilization, and the injustices of humanity are rampant and not always apparent to everyone. In this war, the Neo-Assyrian Empire conquered the lands of the Zebulun and the Naphtali tribes, plundering down through the coast of the lands to the south of Mt. Carmel and east of the region of Galilee. As in other wars, lives were taken on the battlefield. Lives that were not taken on the battlefield were destroyed through the human trafficking of people from their lands and enslavement in lands their parents never knew. In response, the captives lost all hope in the God of their ancestors to search for answers from soothsayers who predicted the future to provide some sense of hope.
Despite darkness overcoming the people, the light of God from within permeated through the darkness. Although they were meant to die under an oppressive, imperialist system, the people increased exponentially. Their joy increased because the presence of God was with them. Seeming as if they had nothing, the harvest of the little they had together brought great and open rejoicing! The burden of their oppression had been broken! For all the battlefield lives lost and blood spilled sacrificially, they would not study war anymore.
Sankofa is an Adinkra, a symbol of the Akan tribe in Ghana. It means to return, go, look, seek, and take. A literal translation is that it is wise to carry with you that which is at risk of being left behind. The symbol is represented by a mythical bird whose feet are firmly planted in a forward direction, yet whose beak is backwards facing. In the beak is an egg representing new life and hope that is connected to the past yet moving forward into the future. Not only is this symbol prominent in Ghana; it is popular among people throughout the African Diaspora.
In the Sankofa symbol, birth has not yet taken place but there is new life and hope in the egg. New life and hope are remembered in Elmina, Osu, Cape Coast, and other slave castles in West Africa from where many people were treated like chattel, died, and yet a remnant remained. New life and hope are remembered in the slave trade of the Atlantic Ocean in which many people died and were caste into the ocean, leaving a trail of sharks feeding from waterlogged carcasses.
New life and hope are remembered in southern plantations on stolen lands where stolen people had been forced to work without wages from sunup to sundown while living in squalor conditions. New life and hope are remembered in mass migrations and movements of Universal Negro Improvement, Civil Rights, Black Power, Black Lives Matter, and Black Futurism.
The Isaiah scripture goes beyond remembering the past. An egg is no longer in the beak of the bird, but a child was born in verse 6, with new life and hope for humanity. This child has authority greater than imperialistic politicians and potentates. This child, named “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace,” is from the throne of David but his kingdom is relational, not imperial. His name is Jesus the Savior, Christ the Anointed One, and Emmanuel who is present with us! His rule is with justice and righteousness. Through remembrance and repair, He is our promise from God!
- What needs to be remembered to receive the promise of reparations for injustice?
- How are movement and remembrance necessary for repair
- How do the soothsayers hold back reparations?
THE REV. DR. ANTHONY EVERETT
Meet the Author
Dr. D. Anthony Everett, prophetic activist, social entrepreneur, and public theologian is the president of The Centre for Prophetic Activism, a social justice enterprise empowering activists and faith-leaders working for justice in their community to transform lives through critical conscious formation, compassionate action, infrastructure-building, and an advocacy/participatory worldview. An ordained elder of the United Methodist Church, he serves as an adjunct doctoral mentor at United Theological Seminary.
Influenced by the prophetic preaching and public theology of Reverend Zan W. Holmes Jr., Dr. Everett completed the Master of Divinity program with Urban Ministry Certification at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. He earned the Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary.
Dr. Everett advocates for the human rights of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities. He envisions building and leading a movement of prophetic activists who empower and mobilize marginalized and oppressed people for holistic social transformation.