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Looking to the past to ensure the future

“We Shall Not Be Moved” was the theme for the 2013 National Association For The Advancement of Colored People Freedom Fund Banquet held at The Prizery Thursday night.

The guest speaker for the evening was the Rev. Dr. Rodney Sadler Jr., a graduate of Howard and Duke universities.

The topic of his speech was looking to the past to ensure the future.

He recalled something his mother had told him.

“She said, ‘Those who don’t remember their past, are destined to repeat it.’  Now this hit me kind of hard when I thought about what she was saying to me. When I realized that she meant that the slavery of the past, the segregation of the past, the Jim Crow separate but equal of the past, the persistent pervasive poverty of the past...really weren’t so far in the past, because if we could readily forget them, we might be forced to relive them,” he said.

 He took the audience back to the first chapter of the first book of the Bible.

 He read Genesis chapter 1, verses 27-26.

“And then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them’,” he read.

He said those two verses declare there is something special about human beings, there is something divine reflected in their human frame, there is something sacred about them that deserves respect, that deserves reverence. 

“The passage calls us to attend to the fact that there really is something valuable in each of us,” he said.

 He referred to a statement made by Dr. Martin Luther King in an article on integration.

“Our Hebraic-Christian tradition refers to this inherent dignity of man in the Biblical term ‘the image of God.’  This innate worth referred to in the phrase ‘the image of God’ is universally shared in equal portions by all men.  There is no graded scale of essential worth; there is no divine right of one race, which differs from the divine right of another. Every human being has etched in his personality the indelible stamp of the Creator,” he said.

“So if we are to get past racial inequities and white privilege, we had to appreciate that we all shared the ‘image of God.’  It was this notion of the ‘image of God’ that fueled so much of King’s thinking on the worth of human beings and why it was that we were not only precious to God, but we should be precious to each other,” he added.

 He encouraged the audience to see God in others.

“The world won’t change just because we recognize the image of God on each of us; we also need to overcome the evil we see with good, we also need to act like we know by stepping out of our comfort zones and to standing up for God,” Sadler said. “By using this notion as the paradigm for the way that we treat others, particularly those who lack power, who look strange, who act different, who have nothing, we might be able to finally see the expressions of God sitting right in front of us.  Jesus said it this way, ‘Whatever you have done to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you have done to me’,” 

He closed by asking that God may enable people to love the image of God seen in every face.

Also Thursday during the banquet Sam Chamber served as the presiding official for the night, NAACP Chaplain the Rev. Margaret F. Coleman gave the invocation followed by the welcome and purpose given by Cassondra Ragsdale, NAACP treasurer, and the Rev. Frank E. Coleman, NAACP president.

Those who attended the banquet also were able to enjoy musical selections from Genesis gospel group of Traynham Grove Baptist Church and received greetings from Dr. C. L. Lewis Motley of the Banister Minister’s Alliance, Halifax County School Superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon, Patty Nelson of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, Sgt. Q. W. Clark of the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office, South Boston Mayor Ed Owen, Supervisor William Claiborne, Del. James Edmunds, newly elected Commonwealth’s Attorney Tracy Quackenbush Martin and Director of Social Services Kathy Andrews.