I now stand firm. My dedication to the power of knowledge is the platform upon which my podium rests. I stand firm, strong, and now free-- free of anger, free of self-delusion, free of the folly of empty vanity, and free of the pernicious bane of meaningless pride without substance.
I stand now free to look upon the eyes of other men, reflecting dignity over sorrow, accomplishment over pain, and with a burning passion, fueled by the very flame that forged ancestral shackles, with a deep sense of pride, and a pride that flows deep.
I now stand erect! The steel that once degraded my forefather, that chained him in bondage to this bitter Earth, now reinforce my character, making me more, rather than less; and the blood and sweat that once drenched his brow, and oozed from the yoke against his heaving chest, now rage with resolve and a sense of purpose, deep within my burning breast.
I now stand as a new being--neither simply African, nor simply American, but a hybrid forced to transcend the sum of my parts; no longer simply African, since being torn away from the African motherland to suffer and toil in the fields of America, and nurtured by America, to become more than simply American, but a renewed American, especially prepared to survive, in a new and challenging land.
Thus, I stand now armed—armed with the wisdom of deprivation, the courage of my conviction, and a deep conviction of my courage; And fortified--with the confidence of a survivor, the empowerment of knowledge, and a ravishing hunger for justice.
I now stand the product of love, struggle, and sacrifice; a witness to man's inhumanity to man, a monument to the hopes and dreams of a million slaves, and charged with the trust and destiny, of this great land.
Yes, I Now Stand Firm. Firm, Black, and Free.
Eric L. Wattree
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