I, Too, Sing America: African American Heroes and September 11th

Jason R. Curry, PhD currently serves as the Dean of the Chapel at Fisk University. He is a licensed and ordained Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC). A Morehouse man, Curry also holds a Master of Divinity Degree from Harvard Divinity School and in 2005 he completed his doctoral degree studies at Vanderbilt University. Curry is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and he is also a Connecting Link.  Curry is married to Angela and they are the proud parents of three children, John, Nia, and Samuel. Stay connected with him on Facebook at Fisk Chapel.

By: The Reverend Dr. Jason R. Curry, Morehouse ’92

The events of September 11, 2001 will forever be etched in the hearts and minds of Americans and all people the world over. On that day, we witnessed an unparalled act of terrorism.  Each of us was affected by this event, and the collapse of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers was of particular significance to me, because my grandmother worked in one of the buildings prior to her retirement. There were thousands of victims from these horrific acts, and there were hundreds of heroes who answered the call of duty and in turn gave their lives for our country that day. Indeed, our anger and grief united us, and there was little discussion of race, class, or gender as it concerned this tragedy and our collective response to it.

As the photos of the heroes emerged, many noted African Americans were not displayed in this exceptional group of citizens. The conspicuous absence of African American heroes was explicitly mentioned by many people who read Time Magazine’s 9/11 Commemorative Edition. This absence caused many to wonder if we were somehow less patriotic than others. Unfortunately, as of today, I am only aware of one video documentary, titled,  “All Our Sons”  that chronicles the extraordinary effort of African American firefighters who gave their lives for freedom and justice.

Christians are called to spread God’s message of redeeming love to an imperfect world; therefore, it will always be important to note the role African-Americans played in building a “more perfect union.” As our country continues heal from this tragic set of events and to realize the vision of our founders, valiant efforts must be made to chronicle the extraordinary role of African Americans in building and defending the United States.

In an attempt to highlight the significance of African-American patriotism in the building of our American democracy, the famous African-American poet Langston Hughes (Lincoln ’29) wrote: “…I am the darker brother…they’ll see how beautiful I am…I, too, am American.”  Crispus Attucks was an African American and the first person to give his life for freedom in the Revolutionary War, and we remain indebted to African American heroes such as  Leon W. Smith Jr., Shawn E. Powell, Vernon Cherry, Andre Fletcher, Ronnie L Henderson, Gerard Jean Baptiste, Keithroy Maynard, William L. Henry Jr., Karl Joseph,  Tarel Coleman, Keith Glascoe, and Vernon Richard for their extraordinary sacrifice on September 11, 2011.

May God continue to bless and keep their families and friends.