“Lynchings” museum and “The Religious Instruction of the Negroes”

“As a Presbyterian minister and the son of a Plantation owner, [he] is the epitome of the establishment voice for this time and place.”

As the person who’s been involved with Black History Month at my church, I was asked to write an article about the evolution of BHM at the church, which I wrote in March, and will link to it at some point.

Stealing from me:

There may have been a sense in the country “in 2009, after Barack Obama was inaugurated as President, that perhaps we didn’t NEED Black History Month anymore. It was seen by some that, in a “post-racial” America, we HAD overcome.

“Of course, nine years later, after Charlottesville, the murders at a Charleston church, and Black Lives Matter, it’s clear that we have not yet reached the promised land.”

And America has a lot more history to learn. Mitch Landrieu, mayor of New Orleans, wrote In the Shadows of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History. Based on hearing him talk about the book on The Daily Show and C-SPAN, he’s helping to fill a void.

Surely, The National Memorial for Peace and Justice addresses a major blind spot in our national consciousness. “The memorial captures the brutality and the scale of lynchings throughout the South, where more than 4,000 black men, women, and children, died at the hands of white mobs between 1877 and 1950. Most were in response to perceived infractions — walking behind a white woman, attempting to quit a job, reporting a crime or organizing sharecroppers.

“Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard University-trained lawyer who created the Equal Justice Initiative in 1994 to fight for justice for people on death row, found himself transfixed by the South’s history of lynching African Americans. Stevenson and a team of researchers spent years documenting those lynchings, combing through court records and local newspapers — which often notified the public that a lynching was coming — and talking to local historians and family members of victims.”

Even earlier, 1842, brought The Religious Instruction of the Negroes in the United States: A Sermon, Delivered Before Associations of Planters in Liberty and M’intosh Counties, Georgia by Charles Colcock Jones, 1804-1863. One of the descriptions on Amazon – there are multiple editions – reads: “As a Presbyterian minister and the son of a Plantation owner, [he] is the epitome of the establishment voice for this time and place…. the ways in which he does and does not allow the humanity of the black population are in themselves fascinating. Read the praise he has for ‘colored ministers’ but brace for the descriptions of the flaws he believes he sees in the black population of the plantations he has visited.”

The more we think we know the history, the more often we are brought up short.