|Hear this, you Kings! Listen you rulers!||This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.|
|I will sing to the Lord, I will sing;||This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.|
|I will make music to the Lord, the God of Israel*||This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.|
|Wake up, wake up, Deborah!Wake up, wake up, break out in song!**||Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!|
|So may all your enemies perish,||Everywhere I go, I’m gonna let it shine.|
|O Lord!||Everywhere I go, I’m gonna let it shine.|
|Be may they who love you be like the sun||Everywhere I go, I’m gonna let it shine.|
|When it rises in its strength.|
*Judges 5:3**Judges 5:12***Judges 5:31
|Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!|
“This Little Light of Mine” written by Harry Loes and performed by Odetta
“If I fall, I’ll fall five feet four inches forward in the fight for freedom. I’m not backing off.”
Deborah of the Hebrew scriptures and Fannie Lou Hamer, women who would change the course of history despite often being forgotten or overlooked in a patriarchal system, have so much to teach us about hope.
While “This Little Light of Mine” was originally written in the 1920’s as a children’s song, Fannie Lou Hamer would popularize it as an anthem during the Civil Rights Movement. Often sung with darling hand motions by tiny children, to her it was a larger belief system. She saw the light of her life as small, but critical and powerful. Within her light, she saw hope for a path forward.
It would be that hope, that spark, that allowed her to cling to her faith and her fight as she was beaten and tortured in a jail cell, involuntarily sterilized, and nearly killed countless times. That is radical faith in a radical woman, a powerful hope that should reshape the way we hear her sing her song. That little light was a fire. It was a flame she would let no person burn out, but rather one she would let shine as she fought for justice. Not tirelessly – as we hear in her words, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” – but with HOPE.
Share in her and Deborah’s hope and bravery. Their unwillingness to compromise in the pursuit of righteousness. If they could keep their hope alive with every obstacle and injustice they faced, we have so much to learn from them.
Elizabeth Behrens grew up in Iowa, but has lived in Kansas City with her husband and four children for the last 11 years. She has a job she loves as Educator and Online Community Manager for Be the Bridge—a non-profit organization and a community of people who share a common goal of creating healthy dialogue about race and racialization in the U.S. Her work with Be the Bridge allows her to teach online classes, lead trainings, and interact with a group of over 24,000 fellow racial bridge builders in the organization’s Facebook group. She also volunteers as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) for children in foster care. When she isn’t busy with work and volunteering, she can be found being rejuvenated by reading, gardening, or if she’s lucky, traveling.