This Overcome rite bas been written with one intent—that is, to serve to change the corporate/collective and individual character of Black people worldwide. Blacks have been made to suffer many things simply because of their color. Now, through the Overcome rite, we declare that the old ways of seeing, talking, and doing are now over. The new day has dawned, offering us many an opportunity to do the myriads of overcoming things that must be done by us.

After we establish and do the Overcome rite, our character changes forever. We are thereafter to be known and understood as the people whose nature demands that we overcome any and all negatives placed in their way. For the Overcome now names our character, its traits and leanings. It points to Black habits, propensities, predispositions, and tendencies to overcome all barriers placed in the way. It shows the children that their forebears came from greatness, that they overcame countless trials and perplexities to bring us to this day.

The Overcome now becomes our collective/corporate victory story. And it is so designed that it can be made to hold all the missing victory sub-concepts we need to take us forward. 

The Black preacher and other leading change agents will need to offer saving content to The Overcome. All these are already there in the language and experience of the people, but they could not heretofore be brought together and made to take root until through The Overcome, our common victory story, they are incorporated into the shared value of the society. Overcome will collect and hold, will interpret and pass on the successes, winnings, triumphs, and victories, large and small, of the community.

The Overcome, which is to be celebrated in a big way yearly on April 4 (around Passover, Easter, and Spring) on the day our primary martyr of the civil rights movement was sacrificed, will guarantee the above as we grow to understand the redemptive power within this rite. It should also be done during significant celebrations of the Black Story, such as January 1st,  Commemoration the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863; Juneteenth; Martin Luther King’s Birthday; and Overcome Day, April 4th

In the end, The Overcome becomes the primary teaching tool for our children. Lies may be told about us, but The Overcome story gives each Black child a base to challenge those lies. Trouble, pain, poverty, and pathology may be currently part of our lives. But because our forebears, in worse times, overcame much more, (the Middle Passage and slavery) and since it is our very nature to overcome, for we celebrate our collective Overcome weekly over a big family meal, then, true to our character, we must overcome what is currently before us. This is the teaching tool we have been waiting for. This is the key that will open the door. This is the insight that frees us to go on as other peoples. 

In all that you do, please remember that the doing of The Overcome does not mean that it is time for complacency. There is an already accomplished-ness to our declaring our Overcome. But it functions more like the events around the purchasing of your first house with a thirty-year mortgage. The house is yours, and it is the bank’s. You have a generation, thirty years, to make it yours. Please understand that The Overcome, like the Jewish Passover, marks the beginning, not the end, of a victorious walk into the future. 

      Remember also that the main reason why Blacks are so far behind most other races, the Jews in particular, is that whereas the Jews did their Passover before they left to signal the change in their character and the resolve of their collective will, Blacks plan to do overcome in the end! Note the word Passover is really a verb, to pass over, just as overcome is a verb, to overcome, shall overcome. But the Jews, several thousand years ago, dared to turn a verb into a noun to name a done deal. Now, we will do the same. That act of changing the verb to pass over into the noun, the Passover, was the most revolutionary thing, conceptually, ever done in the history of mankind. Our change of the verb shall overcome to the noun, The Overcome, will in time and history prove to be the second most revolutionary conceptual change in the history of mankind. 

      Celebrate The Overcome rite and so discover some of what informs the Jews, keeping them passing over perplexities, even those as bad as the Holocaust. They keep going. We shall do the same too. 

    In doing The Overcome, you need not change your religion or denomination. I do not want followers. I only need to know that each and every Black person worldwide can believe one simple beginning story and do one simple, same thing. So despite all our diversity in tribe and language, we boast the same character traits. 

The Overcome Feast:

Liturgy, Rite, and Songs

On April 4 (the day of Martin Luther King’s death) and other significant events, such as the commemoration of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1; Juneteenth; and on Martin Luther King’s Birthday, the families assemble in their homes, churches, or other appropriate places of assembly to give God thanks for creation and the blessings of life, for freedom from slavery, and for making us the Overcomers. 

In recognition of our ancestral and tribal heritage, it is suggested that a table of condiments be set with thirteen kinds of fruit and/or sweets. The number thirteen is a transforming number. It represents rebirth, resurrection, renaissance, overcoming, starting again after the completed cycle of the round twelve.

The larger feasting table is set with festive foods indigenous to our culture. In addition, the ceremony requires the following foods: sweet potato / pie, rice, greens, grits, meats, peanut soup, homemade bread, and wine (grape juice for teetotalers.) 

The place settings are to be of cotton fabric.

cotton harvest at agriculture field

The older parents jointly preside or the celebrants determine among themselves who will function as the parents for the ceremony. 

The positioning and lighting of thirteen candles on the table is to be seen as symbolic. It indicates that each member of the household, congregation, or grouping is present or accounted for, together with all other persons who share in our heritage. 

An empty chair is placed at the table, near the door. 

All assemble around the table.

PARENT (Female): All glory, praise, and thanksgiving to God, who alone created and brought forth our ancestors by His holy and divine will to be the visible manifestation of

His invisible presence. All glory, praise, honor, and thanksgiving to the God of our ancestors, who chose us to parent the race of mankind, to nurture the earth, and to save it for those who come after us. All glory, praise, honor, and thanksgiving to the God of our ancestors, who loved us; who has tested us over and over through many trying and difficult experiences; who has helped us to Overcome countless perils and who has saved us for this day. All glory to the God of our ancestors, who kept us through many generations, who safeguarded us through countless perils and trials, even the devastations of slavery, whereby we are now purged and redeemed for the exceeding glories of this day—a day dedicated and set apart to celebrate and enjoy the festivities of the Overcome. This is our day, a day of rejoicing, a day of exulting, a day of utter and complete happiness. The day on which our freedom as a people was finally consummated. The day on which we remember our former days and thereby resolve and pledge that we will never again be oppressed by any people. This is the day when we give You thanks for elevating us to our former glory, to our former responsibility as framers of conscience and as saviors of the race of mankind parented in the African Garden of Eden. All glory, praise, honor, and thanksgiving to the God of our ancestors, who alone is the creator of all things, master of history and the initiator of epochs. All glory, praise, and honor to God, our guardian through the days of our tutelage and slavery; ordainer and keeper of the new day and age of our Overcome, the day in which we are challenged to live up to the standards of our true nature and divine purpose as parents of the race, shapers of conscience, builders and protectors of civilizations, a special people with a divine and noble calling. 

White uncooked rice in small burlap sack

PARENT (Male): All glory, praise, honor, and thanksgiving to the God of our ancestors, who did not abandon us in slavery but made that experience the means whereby we were tested, proven, and fashioned into a new people—a people known by a new name that describes our character, our dispositions, and propensities—the Overcomers. Glory to God, for after the testing as in fire, You fashioned for us this new character. You gave us this new nature. With You at the helm, our most devastating experiences have been changed into that from which a priceless jewel arises, with such brilliance that its alluring brightness awakens our sleeping consciousness, and we are now faced with the joyful realization that we have Overcome, through You. All glory, praise, honor, and thanksgiving to the God of our ancestors, who used the tragic demise of Martin Luther King Jr. as the occasion for the resurgence of every song and prayer that had issued from the lips of our enslaved ancestors, together with every noble plea that fell from the tongues of many a dedicated leader who in their day and time championed our cause. We thank God for this crowning work and its vindication. Through it, we are reminded that we are winners and not losers, because the nature of our divine heritage demands our victory. Therefore, we, the Overcome people, together with all others of just cause, hold April 4 as the Day of the Overcome: a day of solemn remembrance; a day of brotherhood/sisterhood; a day of feasting; a day of jubilation; a day of prayer and affirmation. And in it, we hereby most humbly solicit the blessings of the eternal God, father of creation, who alone is able to confirm our victory; to grant us peace and good health; to direct the energies of both parents and children into wholesome nation-building endeavors; and to bring all the peoples of the good earth together in a peaceful bond of coexistence, for which all peoples of good will aspire and work. All glory, praise, honor, and thanksgiving to the God of our ancestors for Adam, Eve, Akenaton, Moses, Richard Allen, James Varick, Absolom Jones, Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, Marcus Garvey, and Malcolm X, our ancestors whose individual histories are lost in the mists of time, the Middle Passage and slavery, together with all past Black people, great and small, who suffered for us, who laid the foundation and prepared the way for Martin Luther King Jr., the one chosen for sacrifice and for vindication, the one in whom all the desires, sufferings, hopes, and deeds of those who went before gained their vindication and elevation. 

Happy African American mother feeding daughter during family meal at dining table.

Children (seven suggested) come forward to symbolize the purity and innocence of our deported benefactors. The children are given an incense swinger. They circle the room and fill it with the sweet-smelling aroma. The person designated now stands and recites the names of our past benefactors. At the end of the recitation of names, anyone desiring to recite the name overlooked may do so. Only the departed benefactors are to be named.

ALL SAY: For all that these and many others have done to bring us to this day, we the Overcomers thank them and You. Amen. We thank Thee, most holy God and Father of creation, for the confirmation of this day of our Overcome and for Thy wisdom and guidance as we go forth from this place, resolved to challenge, persuade, encourage, and help one another in our personal and collective Overcome. We thank You, God, for giving us the spiritual insight to establish and set forth the day of Martin’s tragic passing as the symbol of our Overcome. Thus, having so honored him, we deem it fitting that we pause and pay tribute to the many others, without whose selfless commitment and sacrifices, some even unto death, our cause could not have come to its present fruition. 

Burning candle, flowers and books on white table indoors

The Overcome story is told. 

The questions are asked by children. 

CHILD: Who are we? 

PARENT (Female): We are the Overcome people, the people of the Overcome. Our people, the Black people of Africa, have been made to suffer much. Out of this suffering, our new character has been forged. We are by nature, definition, and character the people who can, must, and will Overcome every, any, and all impediments, both seen and unseen, placed in our way. 

CHILD: Where did we come from?

PARENT (Male): We came from Africa, where we had already developed great civilizations, given the Western world its moral code, the Ten Commandments, its principles of mathematics, especially in algebra and geometry, its first formal philosophy. We came from the land of St. Augustine of Hippo, who developed the framework for all Christian theology, from the continent with the great universities of Timbuktu, the continent of the wonderful pyramids of Giza, the home of Shaka Zulu, Osei Tutu, Menelik II, and other great kings with powerful kingdoms. 

CHILD: How did we get so low? 

PARENT (Female): In our greatness, we foolishly became complacent and did not continue to develop. We then went into a hiatus or sleep for several centuries while others came and took our concepts, our religions, our moral codes, our philosophies and techniques, expanding upon them while forcing us to forget our past greatness. They took our lands. Later, they would take us from the land as they developed the sinful Black slave trade. They told deliberate lies about the origins of humanity and the origins of

civilizations, even though their own science now confirms that we are the parents of living mankind, because the genes (DNA) of an African mother are to be found in every man, woman, and child on earth. 

CHILD: Why do we celebrate this season? 

PARENT (Male): For centuries, we were oppressed and dehumanized as a people. We were described negatively and given demeaning names. But then, when the time was right, the cosmic forces brought their powers to bear, and one of our own was sacrificed for us. His name was Martin. Then he was lifted up. All he stood for, all he worked to accomplish, and all he died for was vindicated and lifted up. So we celebrate his day of sacrifice. We celebrate his death and how his consequent elevation validates our new status as Overcomers. For, you see, not even death could stop him from being vindicated. 

Pouring rose wine from bottle into glass against beautiful peonies, closeup

CHILD: What does the Overcome demand of us? 

PARENT (Male): Overcome Day, April 4, reminds us that we are Overcomers by nature. It reminds us that though pains and hurts abide, it is our nature to Overcome them and not be Overcome by them. We know this because our foreparents Overcame the Middle Passage. They Overcame slavery and all the damages since slavery. They turned slavery and the grief-filled years since into the time of testing our overcoming capacities. And now, out of all the suffering they experienced, our new character as Overcomers has been forged. Now, as Overcomers, we can, will, and must Overcome whatever barriers, whatever negatives, whatever obstacles are placed in our way. Martin Luther King Jr.’s elevation after death confirms that even death cannot stop Overcomers. Those are our reasons for celebrating, exulting, and thanking our foreparents for bequeathing us our new character as Overcomers.

The significance of the Overcome foods is told.

PARENT (Female): We must remember why we eat these foods and use these symbols. 

CHILD: Why do we use cotton mats on the table today? 

PARENT (Female) (pointing to cotton cloth): The cotton used to make the cloth was the killer crop that needed many fingers to harvest. Many millions of Africans were brought to this country as slaves to pick the soft cotton from the rough pods. This cloth reminds us of that sad and demeaning period in our lives. But even in our sadness, we are reminded that even though our bodies were enslaved, our minds were thinking, planning, and moving toward our freedom. 

CHILD: Why do we eat grits today? 

PARENT (Male) (holding a bowl of grits): While we were in bondage, we built monuments, businesses, and all kinds of institutions for others. The grits represent the mortar we must now use to build and repair our own life-giving, life-supporting, and life-sustaining institutions. 

CHILD: Why do we eat greens today? 

Leaves of different types of kale cabbage top view background. Beautiful bright natural background. Leaves of different sizes and colors close-up. Greens for making salad, detox. varieties of cabbage

PARENT (Female) (holding a dish of greens): The greens represent the land and its fruits. It is African land, North American land, West Indian land, South American land, any land we claim as our homeland. The land that holds the blood and very bodies of our foreparents. The land we once tilled for others. The land that our forebears worked to sustain life, to send their children to school, and to keep our people healthy and strong. We too must claim the land and produce fruit in our day and time. 

CHILD: Why do we eat peanut soup today? 

PARENT (Female) (holding a bowl of peanut soup): The peanut soup is our link to the motherland, Africa. The peanut, like our people, has many wonderful qualities. It is a rich, healthy food, plentiful in Africa and indigenous to the motherland. It has spread

Delicious oatmeal with apple and cinnamon. Fresh natural breakfast served on wooden table

around the world. The genius of one of the Overcome people, George Washington Carver, a former slave, allowed him to make more than three hundred products from the peanut.

CHILD: Why do we eat these meats today? 

PARENT (Male) (holding the platter with meat): We are a creative and inventive people. In order to get sustaining strength, we made delicious food from the parts of the animals our captors did not want—soul food. We ate feet, tails, innards, and heads. Today, we eat little of this food, but we remember that such soul food helped to give us much of the strength to overcome slavery. 

CHILD: Why do we eat rice today? 

PARENT (Female) (lifting the bowl of rice): The rice reminds us of the legend told by our foreparents about how we brought grains of rice under our finger nails and planted them to provide familiar foods in a strange land. 

CHILD: Why do we eat sweet potato / pie today? 

PARENT (Either one) (lifting the dish with the sweet potato / pie): We are the Overcome people. Like the sweet potato, we may appear rough on the outside, but on the inside we are filled with goodness. Our hearts are soft and sweet. We are the Overcome people. We have overcome because we believe in sweetness, we believe in a God who makes things right, and we believe in love for all of God’s children, Black or white or red! 

CHILD: Why do we drink the fruit of the grape today? 

PARENT (Male) (lifting the glass of red wine or grape juice): This wine (juice) represents the blood of all our martyrs that has been spilled over the years to bring us to this day of the Overcome. We pour some in honor of their memory, and we drink the rest, connecting their lives, their hopes, their sufferings, and their victories with ours. We, through this libation, share in the lives of one another—our successes and our pain. And together we pledge to work to Overcome all negatives. 

Diabetes and Cholesterol control diet and healthy eating nutrition concept, World diabetes day concept . Top view with copy space. Foods on black background

CHILD: Why is there an empty chair by the open door? 

PARENT (Male): This is the space we hold within our circle to welcome our wayward children. It awaits our former oppressors who would now join with us to build a new community. It can hold the stranger who we do not know. It is a place for any to join with us and help in the healing and mending of the human family. 

All sing “The Overcome Song.” 

Love Song Concept

Overcome litany:

 God of our forefathers, 

hear our prayer. 

God of our foremothers, 

hear our prayer. 

God of our ancestors, 

receive our thanks. 

For Adam and Eve, parents of all living mankind; for the revelation that the genes of an African mother, Eve, maps all life on earth, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For the wise King Solomon, demeaned by his color, who was the first to claim, “I am Black and beautiful,”

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For Makeda, the African queen of Sheba, who came to check the wisdom of he who was “Black and beautiful;” for the queen who bore a son for Solomon, creating the ancestry of the great Hailie Selassie, reason for the Rastafarians among us, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For the great pharaohs of Egypt, the builders of civilization, the minds behind medicine, the enablers of philosophers, mathematicians, and the conquerors of nations; for these kings who confirm our victorious and overcoming nature, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You.

For the children of Israel, sons of Africa, who went there so that the God of Israel could say, “Out of Egypt have I called my son,”

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For Jesus Christ, saved in Egypt of Africa from the murderous hand of Herod, protected by our forebears to offer religious salvation to much of the world, Thy Son who was again called out of Egypt,

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For Jesus, Christus Victor, described in Revelation as having woolly hair with feet of tarnished bronze, savior of many in the world, protected by Africans for this work, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For the African Church, converted and baptized by Phillip, father of the oldest Christian church in the world, the Coptic Church of Africa, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For Monica, mother of the great Augustine of Hippo, who saved her son for the church, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For St. Augustine of Hippo, the one who fashioned most of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian church, philosopher, theologian, bishop, saint, and African, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For the other African fathers of the church; for Tertullian, not a father to them but one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time, another son of Africa, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You.

For Hannibal of Carthage, the great general who dared to cross European mountains with elephants to conquer, confirming our winning, overcoming, victorious propensities, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For the Black popes, who in times past, when men were indeed judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin, headed the growing Christian church

and were in the position to crown the kings and emperors of Europe, for these great religious and political pioneers, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For Beethoven, maestro par excellence, for his musical genius, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For General Thomas Alexander Dumas, Haitian charismatic leader who was feared by Napoleon as the only general who could usurp his position, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For Alexander Dumas, author of the Three Musketeers and other great literary works, descendent of the great general, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For Pushkin, the Black Russian writer; for Shaka Zulu, the fierce African warrior king who menaced the colonists; for Mansamusa, the wealthy West African who traveled from West Africa by spectacular caravans through Egypt on pilgrimage to the East, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For the famous four Black guards, the only persons that General George Washington trusted to guard him, examples of our trustworthiness to those who are honorable, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You.

For Prince Hall, founder of the Masons; for Paul Cuffy, super-rich shipping magnate of the 1800s who confirmed with his success that we can do anything and succeed at it if we so chose; for Crispus Attucks, political leader who led the assault on the British for his country, America; for Banneker, who remembered and drew the plans for Washington DC when the French architect got mad and left; who made the first clock in America and who made his own almanac; for these winners of yore, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For Richard Allen and Absolam Jones, who pioneered trends for Black Christians, one establishing the largest church for Blacks in the world, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For the experience of slavery, complete with all its hurts, whereby we were assured of your guardianship, through which we were tried, tested, toughened, disciplined, and

proven worthy for reclaiming our place in the world as parents of the race of mankind; as protectors and guardians of conscience and as overcomers of perplexities and trials,

We, the Overcomers, thank You.  

For Harriet Tubman, the woman who master minded the Underground Railroad; for Sojourner Truth and all the great women, many who remain nameless pioneers and mothers through the centuries, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For Steve Biko and other martyrs of the South African revolution, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For the Black Panthers, freedom riders and martyrs of the American revolution, for Elijah Mohammad and Malcolm X; for the Black Muslims, the modern-day nation builders, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You. 

For Clarence Mitchell, Jr. of the NAACP, who developed the Overcoming laws; who ushered them through Congress and gained the signature of the president, 

We, the Overcomers, thank You.

(Other names of Overcomers who have already died, with one phrase or sentence about their contribution, may be added.) 

Thanksgiving Prayer and Festive Blessing

The Overcome Creed

All recite: 

I am an Overcomer, 

I repeat this night and day,

And that winning victorious spirit 

Will never go away. 

So believe the Overcomers 

Who gave, to let us be. 

Yes, I am an Overcomer. 

Yes, I am an Overcomer. 

Yes, yes, I am an Overcomer. 

I have the victory! 

The feast begins

“An Overcome Song”

by David Bramble, March 1990


Up ye glad and joyous people, 

Raise your voice in glorious song. 

For we are His chosen people, 

We O Lord, we have Overcome 

Verse 1: 

We have Overcome today; 

Now we take our well-earned place.

Up above and down below, 

The Overcome dost overflow. 


Verse 2: 

We fill our hearts with good food; 

Now, O Lord, we are festooned 

With the right and heavenly power 

To take our place up on the tower. 


Verse 3:

Winners may lose a battle, but 

They always win the war. 

God has made us his new leaders, 

And we have Overcome. 


Verse 4: 

Now we thank our forefathers for what they have delivered us. 

Now we proclaim ourselves victorious, for we have won the war. 

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