Martin Luther King Jr. stood with the Jews. He called anti-Zionism, antisemitism. He was an ally, as the Jewish people were to him and his cause. We walked side by side marching for civil rights. The Jewish bond with the Black community was close. Now, there’s confusion among the two groups.
There are so many members of the Black community standing with us as we try to face unprecedented levels of antisemitism in the United States. Yet, there are also so many that are not. Aren’t the Black and Jewish communities close? Don’t we have each other’s back? Why are so many communities and organizations that we, as Jews, proudly marched with, not marching back with us?
Victory Boyd may have an answer to that question. She is a Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and producer who was personally signed by Jay-Z in 2016. In May of 2023, she released her sophomore album, “Glory Hour,” which features a song with God’s name in it called “El Shaddai” in which she’s channeling God’s assistance, crying out to Him, saying we need Him on our side.
The song was inspired by the COVID pandemic when everyone was told to stay inside their homes until further notice. “I just remember being in my studio and it just felt like it was the end of the world,” Victory shares. “The reports on the news were all talking about dying…the fear of dying is what was gripping all of society at that time.”
She decided to flip the word, “die” and turn it into a “declaration of life” by channeling the sound of one of Hashem’s names. She chose that particular name because in the Torah, when Hashem introduces Himself to Moshe, that is what He called Himself. “He goes on to say, ‘I am your Healer, I am your Defender,’” she explains.
Victory took the direct themes from the “children of Israel” and used them in her work. “[The song] was originally written in response to COVID but now it’s even more pointed,” she says. “It’s more specific, and exactly what historically, the children of Israel cried. Now, there’s another posture of humility and crying out and I feel as if this song was created exactly for that.”
As we know, in Judaism there is a concept of Hashem creating the cure before the plague. In some ways, the creation of this song represents an element of that. No one could have expected we would need these words so badly right now.
Victory holds the Jewish people and the entire nation of Israel in high esteem. She grew up on the west side of Detroit which was an inner city community. She explains you either grew up “on the street” and were involved with drugs and gangs or you were in church all the time. “You either came out really, really good or really, really bad,” she says. “There was no middle ground.”
To help their kids stay on the right path and out of trouble, Victory’s parents homeschooled them. “They created a lifestyle that was very centered around Biblical education. That’s actually how I ended up with the name Victory.”
Victory is one of 9 children that all have Biblical names. There’s Liberty, John Valiant, Abraham, Angel, Israel (her brother who was actually born on October 7), Thalia, Mosea, Harmony and Michael.
Their parents integrated a spiritual curriculum in the home as well as an intellectual one. She says that has helped her immensely when it comes to her relationship to the Jewish people. Now, she says young people are learning everything on TikTok. They have no real foundation or understanding when it comes to the history of the Jews and Christians.
Victory credits the reason many Black organizations or groups aren’t standing with Israel to a lack of Christian connection. “When you’re an educated Christian, you know the only reason why we get to exist in such faith is because there was a covenant with the [Jewish] people that was stewarded for centuries,” she explains. “When Jesus came, he established a new covenant that allows us to be ingrafted in. If you cut the root, then the branch doesn’t stand.”
Essentially, she’s saying that you don’t have Christianity without Judaism. So while Black people with no connection to religion might have a hard time seeing the need and value of the Jewish people, the ones that are connected can’t imagine life without the Jews in it.
“When you look at history, there has always been a force to kill and wipe out God’s covenant people from the earth because if you remove the covenant people then you’re removing the mark of God on the earth,” she explains. “It’s like you’re removing the people through with God reveals Himself and God governs things.”
While Victory understands that there is an immense rise in antisemitism and how scary that is, and the ignorance of so many around us at this time, she also has a lot of hope. She has no doubt that Israel will be redeemed, it’s just a matter of waiting and standing with the Jews while that happens.
“It’s an overwhelming time right now, but Jews have real allies. They may not be based not off of race, but spiritual kindredness,” she shares. “We will ride it out together, pray through it together the same way the Jewish people rode it out with Blacks through the Civil Rights movement. We are going to get to the other side of it. It never ends in darkness, it always ends in glory…there are so many promises in the Scriptures that talk about the redemption and the preservation of God’s faithfulness to Israel specifically. We need people that will stand with [the Jews] in faith believing this until we see its full manifestation.”