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A NATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN CREED
Living Your Creed
By Terry Harris
Published: Winter 1999

America has come a long way in understanding that everyone is created equal in regards to race, color or creed. However, we must also recognize two things. First, we still have a long way to go and second, all people, regardless of race, color or creed must strive to do the best of their ability to live up to the freedoms and understandings that have been gained.


The words above are the famous words of the “self-fulfilling prophecy” that can be echoed throughout every psychology class. I can remember the very first time that I was exposed to that phrase. It did not have much meaning to me at the time (at least I did not think so). Today, those words, along with words from others such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, my parents, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa have inspired me to write this country’s very first and only National African American Creed.
A creed is a statement that captures a belief in such a way as to inspire and elevate the reader to a higher understanding. A creeds creation can be instigated by a spiritual feeling, an inspirational event or even a feeling of inherent duty. Whatever it is that drives and inspires a person to write a creed, there is usually an air of divine purpose.
When you stop and think about all the people that have made a difference in the world, you are overwhelmed with their greatness. I mean, how do you begin to pay someone like Martin Luther King, Jr. back for what he has done. He knew that at any given moment his life could be taken from him. He had a beautiful wife and four children. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that I would have been that brave. Yet Dr. King fought on. He literally laid down his life for freedom. And then there are people like my parents and teachers who give me free advice and require only that I pay them attention in return. Any attorney would have charged me a billion dollars for what my parents and teachers gave me for free. It is the continued compassionate, selfless acts of true heroes like these that instilled the desire in me to re-evaluate who I really am and what I can actually accomplish - what anyone is actually enabled to accomplish. The inspiration that these people reflected on me became the strong foundation in which I was able to anchor my own self and enabled me to start on a path that eventually led me to write the African American Creed.
This path started as I began to evaluate myself. I thought, “how could I make a difference, too? Is there anything out there that I can do to repay Dr. King and the others that have made a difference in my life? My grandfather used to say “son, if you wish to make a difference in someone else’s life, you must first change your own.” So, I set out to make a difference in my own life first. I had no idea that my simple goals would someday become what is being called by many, “the preamble of the first and only African American Creed.”
The African American Creed is not about being perfect, nor is it about the color of your skin; it is about being proud of one’s heritage and doing the best that you can in life. The creed starts out by eschewing the negative and embracing God and country. It also revisits history and is about self-sufficiency and placing yourself where you can make a difference. Early in the creed it talks about warding off hatred and bigotry. A mistake that this generation (all races) is still paying for.
The way I see things, is that we all have been blessed with many talents, and I am not talking about those talents that you hear about in a million dollar seminar, but those talents that people do so well that you have to stop and wonder how it is that they can do what they do so great! Take Michael Jordan for example. Why was Michael so successful? Because he was doing something that he enjoyed and worked extremely hard at it. And, if you think for one moment that he was born to play basketball, you’re dead wrong. Like many others before him (yes there was basketball before Michael, he worked very hard to get where he was. Yet, he did not stop working hard after he earned his way into the NBA. Let’s face it. Nothing in life that is worth anything comes without a price. We even have to work to earn our own sweat!
I feel that it is important to note that I am not without my faults. I bleed like you, I hurt like you, and I can cry like you. And like you, I too, have made many mistakes in my life. But, I realize that I have only two choices: I could sit around and wallow in “could have ” or I could rewrite my map (the creed) for life and change my current negative circumstances to reflect the “real me.” I said a prayer or three and chose the latter.
I would like to leave you with these final thoughts: Whatever it is that you are doing well, do it bigger, faster, stronger and wiser the next time. And never wait until you get sick and tired of being sick and tired before you decide to change a negative situation into a positive one. Think it, Dream it, Become it,
Live it - Just Do It!


___________________


“When I first saw the National African American Creed, I was deeply touched. I contacted author Terry Harris and got his permission to share it with our BFS readers.
I also went to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Visitor’s Center in Atlanta to gain further insight. The center is a place where all can be both proud and inspired. The following three statements from the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. touched me the most:
“There is nothing in all the world greater than freedom. It is worth paying for; it is worth losing a job for; it is worth going to jail for. I would rather be a free pauper than a rich slave. I would rather die in abject poverty with my convictions than live in inordinate riches with the lack of self respect.”
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve . . . . You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
America has come a long way in understanding that everyone is created equal in regards to race, color or creed. However, we must also recognize two things. First, we still have a long way to go and second, all people, regardless of race, color or creed must strive to do the best of their ability to live up to the freedoms and understandings that have been gained.
Two great men that have done just that are Anthony Lucas from Arkansas and Darwin Walker from Tennessee. Martin Luther King, Jr. should be smiling with great joy because of the spirit and accomplishments of Anthony and Darwin. This is what he fought and died for.
Read the Creed and then read Anthony’s and Darwin’s story. Come away inspired. Let us all become better.“
- Dr. Greg Shepard


_______________________


I, the African American; man, woman, son, daughter, great-grandchild of slaves, descendant of Africa and child of God no longer have to search to find my place in this world.

I, the African American, have a responsibility to my forefathers whose struggle I must continue to ward off hatred and bigotry.

I, the African American, descendant of Ishmael and Abraham, have a responsibility to help my brothers and sisters if they fall by the wayside.

I, the African American, of dark complexion, have a responsibility to keeping my dark beautiful armor shined with Christ-like luster in my daily walk.

I, the African American, whose ancestors were great warriors, must become a great warrior against such things as drugs and gang violence.

I, the African American, from a race which was so powerful as to cause a nation to ch

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Author Terry Harris

Return to Winter 1999 Articles


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