It’s amazing how a number can stay with you. I don’t think of her as a number. The number (146) was the number her slaveholders gave her. She has a name we just don’t know it, so the number stays. If I did know her name, I would shout it out. I would find a hill at the top of the world and shout her name until the sound of it filled the clouds, until the clouds formed a storm, until the storm released its justice on traffickers and healed the captives with its rain. Until we saw liberty from tyranny.
On Independence Day, I was listening to NPR (a healthy addiction) but I wasn’t really paying attention and then I heard the number, number 146. I was in the kitchen. I turned toward the radio and held my breath a bit as if I had just heard the name of a friend being spoken. The reporter continued with his story. 354 steps total but there are 146 steps to reach the crown of the great statue. These steps are the hardest set. They were closed after Sept. 11, 01. A narrow double helix staircase with no option of turning back. An Egyptologist likened the claustrophobic experience to being inside an underground chamber of a pyramid. It is tiring, constricting, intensely uncomfortable. But, after these 146 steps you reach the crown. The crown with seven spikes representing the seven continents and oceans on our planet. A crown reopened on Independence Day at the top of a statue representing liberty.
Abolition is fraught with tiring work. It can be intensely uncomfortable and there is no turning back but if we climb these steps, we will see liberty on our planet.
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” - MLK