The answer starts in its shortest form:
We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt; now we are free.
The Passover story chronicles the Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt. It celebrates the movement from oppression to liberation and our belief that tyranny can be thwarted and justice can prevail.
On the eve of his death, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to a gathered crowd in Memphis, Tennessee in support of sanitatation workers on strike:
“The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. One thousand, three hundred sanitation workers are on strike. Now we're going to march again, and force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God's children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. And we've got to say to the nation: We know how it's coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.”
Such oppression of workers was at the heart of the story of Pharaoh and the Exodus, 3,000 years ago, and the reason we continue to tell the story at this Passover table every year. Around the world today, courageous people are making similar journeys—leaving behind violence, poverty and persecution, and seeking security, freedom and peace.
Early data shows African Americans have contracted and died of coronavirus at alarming rates. Detroit has become a national epicenter of the outbreak, and though African-Americans are just 14 percent of the Michigan's population, they represent 41 percent of its covid-19 victims. Similarly, Louisiana released an even starker set of statistics: African-Americans, who make up roughly 32 percent of the state’s population, have accounted for 70 percent of its coronavirus deaths. We can no longer sit idly by.
There is a charge in recognizing how the world may be redesigned by the people with a sense of urgency like the matzah we see before us. Let us remind you what MLK said, "for when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory."
And so all of us remember and taste within ourselves the bitterness of slavey, the oppression of workers and the disenfranchised.
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