What was this sweet chariot? Many believe that the chariot might have represented the path to freedom that was organized by abolitionists by means of the Underground Railroad. Or the chariot could have symbolized a chariot of the Lord transporting the soul to heaven. This interpretation has scriptural origins, for the bible contains descriptions of chariots used in war as well as to transport special souls, such as that of the prophet Elijah, to heaven. Both interpretations are valid and warranted. Metaphors and images, such as that of the chariot, help us to have hope, but with something substantial guiding it. The chariot could be visualized. For the slave, it was almost a tangible way of escape from an inhuman existence and brutal treatment.

Black History Month gives us an opportunity to recognize the unique stature of our African-American brothers and sisters throughout the history of this nation. It urges us to learn, understand, and empathize. It gives us a dedicated time period when we can recognize our society failures (and our own personal failures), and make thoughtful decisions about how we can achieve fairness and justice in the present and future of this nation—and nation that still houses elements that continue to marginalize people because of the color of their skin.

Let us all pray for harmony among all races, for an end to prejudice and bias, and for reconciliation and respect among all people.

Written by Bob Gallagher