"It’s the rise and the fall / The ones who stand tall / The dark before dawn / The need to move on / I think it’s time to break the cycle."

Those lyrics were penned by Fire From the Gods' AJ Channer in 2019, but the time has never been better to express the sentiment than right now as the band have released their "Break the Cycle" video just in time to dedicate it to remembering Juneteenth.

Juneteenth takes place on June 19 every year, and it's the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.

This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official Jan. 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

The first Juneteenth was celebrated in 1866 with food, singing and the reading of spirituals. It's still not recognized as a federal holiday or taught in schools, which is why many Americans are unaware of the holiday.

While the end of slavery came in the 1800s, systemic racism has continued to impact the black community.

In their new video, Fire From the Gods' AJ Channer stands in front of a graffiti'd wall explaining his point of view living as a black man in America. "You know it's 2020. We're still having the conversation and we're still in fear of our lives that as a black man in America that we can make it home," says Channer, then pointing to the messages, "Let me live. We want to live. That's not something I want to have to teach my kids. My mom had to teach me about that. My dad had to talk to me about that, about the way I'm supposed to deal with police. We have to continue to press the issue, because if one is not free, none of us are free."

The band's video uses imagery from newspaper headlines going up in flames and footage from protests to help relay their message that it's time to break the cycle. Some of the footage comes from Channer himself, who made trips to Minneapolis and Atlanta, the sites of major protests within recent weeks.

All of Channer's recent travels will eventually be made into a docuseries on the current state of the world. The moving footage takes you to the streets of Minneapolis and Atlanta days after the murder of George Floyd, focusing on why the system is set up to fail while investigating how we can change that as one united body. AJ interviews protestors on the ground, community leaders and other local artists to showcase the power of strength in community, and how we, as a country, can move forward. A written narrative on what he learned from his travels will be released on Friday (June 19 or Juneteenth).

Fire From the Gods will broadcast a free performance tonight from their local venue in Austin, Texas. The Come and Take It Live Embrace Race benefit will take place at 7PM ET, with proceeds going to the Embrace Race organization that educates children on race and starts the conversation early in life. Be sure to tune into www.soundrink.live to watch the show.

In the interim, watch Fire From the Gods' "Break the Cycle" video and read through the lyrics below.

Fire From the Gods, "Break the Cycle" Lyrics

I feel like we keep fighting a war deep within
A war that we keep fighting and we’ll never win
It seems that we just keep digging a deeper grave
To pile up the bodies and to hide our shame
Hustling doing anything to get paid
Claiming that we’re free
But we’re really slaves
Minds chained to the pulse of the machine
Enslaved by the war machine
And it goes on and on and on

It’s the blood in your vein
The thought in your brain
The heart in your chest
That drives you insane
The need for us to break the cycle

It’s the rise and the fall
The ones who stand tall
The dark before dawn
The need to move on
I think it’s time to break the cycle

I feel like the hatred has us separated
The heart and the spirit have been dislocated
A whole generation miseducated
A ticking time bomb to be detonated
I’ve seen the best of us
dragged through hell
Yet we put a crown ‘pon the infidel
Shaking my head
We’ll forever be enslaved by the war machine
And it goes on and on and on

It’s the blood in your vein
The thought in your brain
The heart in your chest
That drives you insane
The need for us to break the cycle

It’s the rise and the fall
The ones who stand tall
The dark before dawn
The need to move on
I think it’s time to break cycle

BREAK, BREAK, BREAK,
BREAK, BREAK, BREAK
THE CYCLE, THE CYCLE

It’s the blood in your vein
The thought in your brain
The heart in your chest
That drives you insane
The need for us to break the cycle

It’s the rise and the fall
The ones who stand tall
The dark before dawn
The need to move on
Break, break, break

Fire From the Gods, "Break the Cycle"

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