Reverend Dr. James Forbes, is recognized as one of the twelve most effective preachers in the English-speaking world. He was the first African American to serve as the Senior Minister of Riverside Church in Harlem, one of the largest multicultural and interdenominational congregations in the United States. When Rev. Forbes retired from that position, he formed the Healing Nations Foundation, a non-partisan and non-profit national ministry of healing and spiritual revitalization.

Two weeks before President Biden signed legislation to make Juneteenth National Independence Day a federally recognized holiday, I had asked Reverend Dr. James Forbes if NCNW could publish his poem All Americans Together as my Juneteenth message. He graciously gave us that permission.

Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Ph.D.
National Chair and Seventh President

A Juneteenth Meditation: Recalling the day General Grainger delivered Order #3 in Galveston, Texas indicating that all slaves are free. This declaration was made 2 ½ years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. June 19, 1865, is now referred to as Juneteenth.

All Americans Together
James A. Forbes Jr. — May 2021

Newly freed slaves were ecstatic on that great day.
They thanked God for liberty despite the delay.
God said “Though you are free from chains of slavery
You’re still captives of murderous bigotry”

Slaveowners were grieving for their lost property-
People they had whipped and lynched from many a tree
Though African slaves, from bondage, were now set free
Slaveholders were still slaves to white supremacy.

God spoke to those called “white” down from heaven on high
“Your tribe has been disgraced by a demonizing lie.
As slavery ends, so must each barbaric crime
Repent! Repair! Accept forgiveness while there’s time.

From whence that vile delusion came, it has to go
Never forget you shall surely reap what you sow.
The true abundance your soul so deeply craves
Can’t be found if fear and falsehoods make you slaves.

While the Spirit spreads truth and love across the land.
Depraved sick minds suppress justice on every hand.
We must decide the convictions we will embrace
Regarding the shameful brutalities of race.

If it matters to you to have truth on your side
Racism in this nation cannot be denied.
From its beginning, this country was not for all
Before it was founded, there had been a great fall.”

When all of God’s children can finally breathe free
We can celebrate being a true democracy.
Imagine the joy and delight we will share
When we recover the oneness that’s already there.