Marvin Gaye
Soul singer and songwriter Marvin Gaye at Golden West Studios in 1973 in Los Angeles, California (Photo by Jim Britt/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images)

…Sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. — James 1:14

Marvin Gaye’s 1971 song “What’s Going On” marked a turning point in his career and in the trajectory of Motown. It was as if Gaye was able to see what was coming.

Some of the lyrics: “Mother, mother there’s too many of you crying. Brother, brother, brother, there’s far too many of you dying. You know we’ve got to find a way, to bring some lovin’ here today. Father, father, We don’t need to escalate. War is not the answer. Picket lines and picket signs, don’t punish me with brutality. Talk to me, so you can see, what’s going on?”

Marvin Gaye nailed it! Back in the early 1970s, when he recorded and released this song, there was much racial tension, police controversy, protests, the Vietnam War and more, similar to what’s happening today. This song was a huge topic of discussion when Gaye cut it back in 1970, and 20 years later, in 1990, South African President Nelson Mandela even recited lyrics from the song for a packed Tiger Stadium.

George Bulanda of Hour Detroit magazine wrote how there were more than 50,000 people at Tiger Stadium on June 28, 1990, to hear anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela and his wife, Winnie, only a few months following his release from a South African prison where he spent 27 years. Surrounded by Detroit’s finest, the mayor, and some of Motown’s best, including Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin, during his speech, Mandela quoted lyrics from Gaye’s classic song.

Undoubtedly, this song resonates in 2020 even more in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by police. The 8 minutes and 46 seconds, essentially a public lynching, were seen around the world, felt by billions of people during the current pandemic. This public lynching appears to be the straw that broke the camel’s back!

Going back further to circa 1869, this is one of the many horror stories suffered by my people. Africa2Africa reported how Natchez, Mississippi, had an influx of former slaves come to their town, its population going from 10,000 to 120,000 Blacks almost overnight. Such a huge influx was an enormous problem for the white town.

To deal with this influx, a concentration camp was built to essentially eradicate the slaves. It was a wide underground pit. The men were recaptured by the Union troops and forced back into hard labor. The women and children were locked behind the concrete walls of the camp and left to die from starvation. Many also died from smallpox. More than 20,000 freed slaves were killed inside of this American concentration camp.

Another sad point to this true story is, “The Union army did not allow them to remove the bodies from the camp. They just gave ’em shovels and said bury ’em where they drop.” The camp was called the Devil’s Punchbowl. This story is not in history books.

Scripture says in James 1:14, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

Sounds like the police officer who held his knee on the neck of George Floyd was enticed by his own desire. Obviously he wanted Floyd dead! God’s will be done, and it looks like a new day is dawning as a result of such a cruel and inhumane act. This time, we all witnessed it. Like Marvin Gaye said, what’s going on?

Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website,, email or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.

Lyndia Grant

A seasoned radio talk show host, national newspaper columnist, and major special events manager, Lyndia is a change agent. Those who experience hearing messages by this powerhouse speaker are changed forever!

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