As America last month celebrated Black History Month, the Barbadian-born Rector of St. Paul’s Church in the Village of Flatbush, Brooklyn said the celebration was “a necessary and conscious action.”
“It is of vital importance that we know our heritage and our plethora of contributions to the development and growth of this society,” said the Rev. Fr. Sheldon N.N. Hamblin, whose Episcopal/Anglican Church is in the Diocese of Long Island and a member of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.
“Coming out of some 400 years of the African Transatlantic Slave Trade and a tumultuous history, the struggle of the Black race is further compounded by the erroneous teaching and racist ideology that nothing Black is essentially good,” added Fr. Hamblin, an active member of the Church Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), the 67th Precinct Clergy Council and the Prospect Park Community Committee – all in Brooklyn – in an exclusive Caribbean Life interview recently.
“Indeed, ‘we have come this far by our faith’ and our unrelenting struggle to overcome all of the injustices and hinderances to our growth and potential development,” continued Fr. Hamblin, who also serves on the Board of the Episcopal Urban Caucus and Union of Black Episcopalians. “For too long, we have been dehumanized in spite of the significant contributions we have made to this nation’s economy, scientific advancement and infrastructure. It is, therefore, paramount that we acknowledge and celebrate our Black heritage or Black identity.”
Additionally, Fr. Hamblin, who serves as a Trustee of the Estate of the Diocese of Long Island, said “it is imperative that we enlighten others – especially those who are not of our constitution and those of us who have been brainwashed beyond the realm of common sense and reason – to understand the power and dignity of our Blackness.”
He urged that Blacks not allow others to demarcate their heritage, race and ancestry.
“Irrespective of our origin, be it Africans from the African continent, African Americans coming out of slavery, Caribbean Americans and Haitian Americans coming out of slavery, we share a common ancestry,” said Fr. Hamblin, who migrated to the United States in 1995. “There are no lines drawn to demarcate our kind of blackness.
“Our heritage is the same; our ethnicity is undeniably one of pride, dignity and royalty,” added Fr. Hamblin, a member of the Black Clergy Caucus in the Diocese of Long Island. “We share a royal heritage – a heritage distorted by the sin of slavery.
“Consequently, the need for us to tell and to share our stories must not be undermined,” he continued. “Ironically, the stony the road we’ve trod is the strength of our race, for we have not been defeated by the dehumanizing forces that have been unleashing their venom against us for centuries. Indeed, we will ultimately prevail; we will regain the respect and fairness that is intrinsically ours.”
Thus, Rev. Hamblin stressed that “even though many of us from the African Diaspora are on many levels still learning what it means to be Black, especially in these United States of America and in this 21st century, we have a song to sing and a story to proclaim, and that must be one unified harmonious song!”
“Our forefathers and foremothers have willingly or unwillingly passed on the baton,” he said. “It’s ours to arrange the music and direct the orchestra in this symphony called ‘The Struggle for Perfect Freedom.”
Fr. Hamblin said this euphonious melody and harmony of voices will still every voice that is opposed to Blacks’ advancement and the realization of their “fullest God-given potentials.”
He said Black identity, like all others, is “powerful and vibrant and full of vitality and love.”
“The tumult and tempest of our past must not serve as hindrances to where we should go,” Fr. Hamblin emphasized. “We must not be satisfied with laying down our burden until we have finished the work left by our forefathers and foremothers for us to do.”
In invoking a revolutionary refrain, he proclaimed “long live Black History Month,” stating that the month serves as “a tapestry on which our history of over 400 years is displayed and is a reminder of where we came from, where we still are and the flexuous path we have to take to overcome and ultimately dispel the darkness that is still determined to reign after 400 years.”
Fr. Hamblin has served on the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Long Island and the Diocesan Chaplain for the Daughters of the King.
In the past, he served on the Department of Missions, the Board of Directors of Episcopal Charities and the Diocesan Youth Ministries.
Rev. Hamblin received his Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill. in 2003.
Prior to attending seminary, he worked for People Magazine and held an internship with the New York Times.
In 1999, Fr. Hamblin graduated from New City Technical College, City University of New York (CUNY) with a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Arts Production Management.
Fr. Hamblin is married to Lisa, and they have a daughter, Christina.