Denmark, S.C.- Voorhees College recently held a Martin Luther King, Jr. program featuring the youngest person to be elected president of the Georgia National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), James Woodall.
Woodall spoke about what he describes as a “prophetic mistake” that we as a people, culture, community, and even as a world continue to engage.
He said institutions and communities seem to have two problems. “One being a cultural inebriation and the other is post-racial narcolepsy,” Woodall said.
Woodall explained the first condition by saying, “In scripture, there is a culture that would experience moments of dryness. So, they used what they had available which were grapes to make wine,” Woodall said.
“What is going on in our world that makes the waters of life unavailable in which our people are literally forced to their knees to drink.”
Woodall said wine is inebriating, but to people back then, the wine was a symbol of life and substance. “What makes wine necessary. The answer is the conditions of personal uplift, everything we do today has to be monetized and valued,” Woodall said.
“We live in a culture that says every single moment of every hour of every single day; we must be doing something profitable like our ancestors’ had to go through.”
He went on to say we have become culturally inebriated because the culture we live in tells us that way. “We have to always be moving, and because of it, many of our people are suffocating to death because they do not have the ability, time, or opportunity to rest,” Woodall said.
“The more wine we drink, the more our witness to the work of God and the prophecy that tells us we must fight for justice and stand up for what is right is apparent. However, we are too worried about ‘chasing the bag’ that we have lost our way.”
Woodall moved on to explain the second condition by focusing on the word post-racial, where people have moved beyond the idea of racism in America. “We elected the first black president, and various other first African-American successful people to where we have moved beyond racism,” Woodall said.
“However, there is still a question society asks us of ‘do you want to play or win’ so we come up with temporary fixes that we use to make ourselves feel better about the way we live in this world.”
He added, “But after we have celebrated ourselves and go back to sleep, something racist happens to one of use in our community we remember we are Black again,” Woodall said. “The world reminds us we are black; then we put ourselves into cultural asylum that we have to feel spaces to feel we are somebody.”
Woodall concluded with we have to ask ourselves after we continue the same cycle over and over, what in the world are we doing. This legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who fought to try and break the cycles. He stood up for us to say this is not right,” Woodall said.
He added by encouraging students today, to follow in Dr. King’s footsteps and stand up for something that is not right because someone may be waiting on them.