It has been a very emotional time due to the recent decisions to not to indict the murderers of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, two black men who were both unlawfully killed by the hands of police officers. Police brutality, racially unjust policies and blatant oppression of Black and Brown bodies in the United States have been ingrained in the very systemic laws that are upheld in this country since the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution. So it should not be a surprise to us when we hear news of Eric Garner or Mike Brown or Rekia Boyd or Trayvon Martin or Renisha McBride or many unknown names that have yet to make it to the news. And yet, the constant reminder that this country does not value or care to protect people of color renders feelings of anger, sadness, fatigue, confusion and hopelessness.
The beauty of everything that has been happening recently is to see the increasing level of responses from people across all walks of life who are choosing to speak out against these injustices. It has been amazing to see people use their gifts, whether it is to organize, protest, educate or make art, in response to what's going on today. Nicholas Ryan Gant is an artist who chooses to use his gift of song and music to emote how he feels during these troubling times. In August, when we heard the news of the murder of 18 years old Michael Brown, Gant released the heart-wrenching tribute, "Little Brown Boy." Months later, in the wake of the news of no justice for Eric Garner, the indie soul singer released a special and timely rendition of the beloved Duke Ellington's classic "Come Sunday" featuring Madame Mahalia Jackson.
The original 1958 recording was blessed with Jackson's spirit-filled outcry to God for love, justice and protection. Gant captures the somber sentiments of the prayer with an a cappella performance with a haunting, yet beautiful falsetto. Dedicated to Eric Garner and all of those protesting injustice, Gant's cover of "Come Sunday" is a sad cry from the heart for freedom and to feel assured that our lives, do in fact, matter.