Resistance, Persistence and the Pursuit of Happiness: A Juneteenth Meditation

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“This joy I have—the world didn’t give it, and the world can’t take it away.”

A painting by Megan Gabrielle—Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn’s goddaughter—an artist based in New York, entitled “Rebirth.” (Megan Gabrielle)

Growing up in the church, this often-exalted axiom has been ringing loudly in my ears as I watch footage of white people in black masks spray painting buildings with “Black Lives Matter,” and police offers breaking storefront windows captured by peaceful protestors seeking justice for average Black citizens whose names we should not collectively know—now as common in the cultural zeitgeist as the most celebrated Hollywood star.

I was reared at First A.M.E. Church in Los Angeles under the pastorship of Rev. Dr. Cecil L. Murray. I was raised on the stories of persistent Black folk— like founders Biddy Masson and Richard Allen, who were…

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