Posts

The American Journey of the Negro National Anthem

The American Journey of the Negro National Anthem

At the age of 28, James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) began to pen a poem which would become one of the most celebrated hymns of all time. Johnson was not only a writer, but also a lawyer, teacher, United States diplomat, and the author of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the Negro National Anthem. He became the first African-American to pass the bar in the state of Florida, and also served as executive secretary of the NAACP from 1920-1930.

VOICE OF A PEOPLE, SONG OF A NATION

After receiving his bachelor’s and law degrees, Johnson balanced dual careers as educator and lawyer, while also writing poetry. In 1900, at the age of 29, he was asked to speak at an observance at the Florida school where he was principal, but chose to write a piece instead. That piece became what we now know as Lift Every Voice and Sing.

Said James Weldon Johnson –

“A group of young men in Jacksonville, Florida, arranged to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday in 1900. My brother, J. Rosamond Johnson, and I decided to write a song to be sung at the exercises. I wrote the words and he wrote the music. Our New York publisher, Edward B. Marks, made mimeographed copies for us, and the song was taught to and sung by a chorus of five hundred colored school children.

“Shortly afterwards my brother and I moved away from Jacksonville to New York, and the song passed out of our minds. But the school children of Jacksonville kept singing it; they went off to other schools and sang it; they became teachers and taught it to other children. Within twenty years it was being sung over the South and in some other parts of the country. Today the song, popularly known as the Negro National Hymn, is quite generally used.

“The lines of this song repay me in an elation, almost of exquisite anguish, whenever I hear them sung by Negro children.”[1]

 

In 1939, renowned artist Augusta Savage received a commission from the World's Fair for a work of art. She created a 16-foot plaster sculpture titled “The Harp”, which was inspired by “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”. The sounding board of the harp is the arm and hand of God.

In 1939, renowned artist Augusta Savage received a commission from the World’s Fair for a work of art. She created a 16-foot plaster sculpture titled “The Harp”, which was inspired by “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. The sounding board of the harp is the arm and hand of God.

In 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded and by 1920, Johnson was appointed as its Executive Secretary. As he worked with the organization to combat racism, lynching, and segregation, the popularity of his anthem began to spread throughout the South. Copies of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” could be found in Black churches across the country, and the NAACP had adopted it as its theme song. It was also during this time that “Negro History Week” (now “Black History Month”) was first celebrated, conceived by noted historian Carter G. Woodson.

According to Harry Henderson and Romare Bearden in A History of African-American Artists (From 1792 to the Present)-

“[Lift Every Voice and Sing] resonates strongly as a Christian hymn because it is a song about exodus. It is a story of a journey sanctified by faith, and protected and prospered by God”[2].

Though the Johnson brothers wrote over 200 songs together (mostly for the stage), this anthem would be their most renowed. Recent historic references to Lift Every Voice include the recitation of its 3rd stanza by Civil Rights leader Reverend Joseph Lowery (formerly president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference), for his benediction at the inauguration ceremony for President Barack Obama in 2009, and a beautiful performance by noted soprano Denyce Graves at the opening ceremonies of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC in 2016.

Lift Every Voice and Sing continues to serve as inspiration of a people, and an anthem of resilience, hope and faith – not only for African Americans, but also for all Americans who are on the journey to freedom, liberty and justice. 

 

LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING

Lift every voice and sing,

Till earth and heaven ring,

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;

Let our rejoicing rise

High as the list’ning skies,

Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,

Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;

Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,

Let us march on till victory is won.

CLICK HERE FOR A PDF OF THE COMPLETE LYRICS. Watch violinist Karen Briggs perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at West Angeles Church of God In Christ below:

Read more about The American Journey of Black History Month HERE.

See Dr. Judith McAllister and the West Angeles Mass Choir’s presentation of “We Shall Overcome” HERE.


[1] – Poetry Foundation, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/46549

[2] – Bearden, Romare and Henderson, Harry:  A History of African-American Artists (From 1792 to the Present), Pantheon Books (Random House), 1993, ISBN 0-394-57016-2. Pp. 168-180.

Image of Augusta Savage, courtesy, New York Public Library.

PAINTING - Aaron Douglas: "From Slavery to Reconstruction, Aspects of Negro Life"; courtesy, The New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Art and Artifacts Division.  American Journey of Black History Month.

The American Journey of Black History Month

The American journey of Black  History Month begins around 1915, 50 years after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. In September of that year, historian Carter G. Woodson, known as the “Father of Black History,” founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a National Negro History week in 1926.

The American Journey of Black History Month - Carter G. Woodson, Father of Black History Month.

Carter G. Woodson, Father of Black History Month.

 

CREATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH

The son of former slaves, historian Carter G. Woodson was the second African American to receive a PhD from Harvard University. Like W. E. B. Du Bois (who was, incidentally, the first African American to receive a PhD from Harvard), he believed that truth could not be denied, and that reason would prevail over prejudice [2]. Through his organization, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), he conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass[1]. The NAACP was also founded in February in 1909.

Woodson lobbied schools, churches, and organizations to participate in a special program to encourage the study of African-American history. The response was overwhelming. Black history clubs sprang up, teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils, and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort.

By the time of Woodson’s death in 1950, Negro History Week had become a central part of African American life and substantial progress had been made in bringing more Americans to appreciate the celebration. Mayors of cities nationwide issued proclamations noting Negro History Week. The Black Awakening of the 1960s dramatically expanded the consciousness of African Americans about the importance of black history, and the Civil Rights movement focused Americans of all color on the subject of the contributions of African Americans to our history and culture.

By the 1970s, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses.  During America’s Bicentennial Celebration in 1976, President Gerald R. Ford recognized Black History Month as a national celebration, calling upon the public to “seize theThe American Journey of Black History Month opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”[2]

HONORING BLACK HISTORY MONTH TODAY

Since its official, national recognition in 1976, Black History Month has been designated by every American president as a time to reflect upon the history and accomplishments of African Americans, and to honor the individuals and groups which have worked tirelessly toward racial justice.  Other countries around the world also devote time to celebrating Black History.

American Presidents have also adopted the practice of endorsing specific themes for the month’s observations. The 2013 theme, “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington,” marks the 150th and 50th anniversaries of two pivotal events in African-American history.

For Black History Month in 2014, President Barack Obama in his Presidential Proclamation  said the following:

“As we pay tribute to the heroes, sung and unsung, of African-American history, we recall the inner strength that sustained millions in bondage. We remember the courage that led activists to defy lynch mobs and register their neighbors to vote. And we carry forward the unyielding hope that guided a movement as it bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.  Even while we seek to dull the scars of slavery and legalized discrimination, we hold fast to the values gained through centuries of trial and suffering.”[3]

As the Black American journey continues to uplift the hopes and dreams of those of other cultures worldwide, the stories and testimonies found in African American history serve as a constant light and reflection of the true soul and promise of America. Carter G. Woodson, in promoting the study of black history, has inspired a nation to honor the resilience and spirit of a people.

 

Video, courtesy, Biography.com.  Many thanks!


[1] – “About Carter G. Woodson”, Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). https://asalh100.org/our-history/carter-g-woodson/, accessed 2-7-2017.

[2] – “About African American History Month,” excerpted from an essay by Daryl Michael Scott, Howard University, for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. http://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/about.html; accessed 2/4/2016. 

[3] – “African American History Month”, The National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. http://www.national-consortium.org/Special-Recognition/African-American-History-Month.aspx

FEATURED PAINTING – Aaron Douglas: “From Slavery to Reconstruction, Aspects of Negro Life”, 1934; courtesy, The New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Art and Artifacts Division.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • In September 2016, the Smithsonian Institution opened the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC. Thirteen years since Congress and President George W. Bush authorized its construction, the 400,000-square-foot building stands on a five-acre site on the National Mall, close to the Washington Monument.
  • AfricanAmericanHistoryMonth.gov is a collaboration between The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  • The Library of Congress has a branch dedicated to law and legislative documents. The Law Library of Congress has compiled guides to commemorative observations, including a comprehensive inventory of the Public Laws, Presidential Proclamations and congressional resolutions related to African American History Month.

 

 

The Green-Meldrim House in Savannah, Ga., is where Gen. William T. Sherman held meetings with black Christian ministers, creating the plan later known as "40 acres and a mule."

40 Acres, Reparations, and the Black Church

As the debate continues regarding reparations for African Americans, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. reveals the truth about the “40 acres and a mule,” and its origins in the Black church.

By Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

We’ve all heard the story of the “40 acres and a mule” promise to former slaves. It’s a staple of black history lessons, and it’s the name of Spike Lee’s film company. The promise was the first systematic attempt to provide a form of reparations to newly freed slaves, and it was astonishingly radical for its time. In fact, such a policy would be radical in any country today, the federal government’s massive confiscation of private property — some 400,000 acres — formerly owned by Confederate land owners, and its methodical redistribution to former black slaves. What most of us haven’t heard is that the idea really was generated by black leaders themselves.

It is difficult to stress adequately how revolutionary this idea was. As the historian Eric Foner puts it in his book, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, “Here in coastal South Carolina and Georgia, the prospect beckoned of a transformation of Southern society more radical even than the end of slavery.” Try to imagine how profoundly different the history of race relations in the United States would have been had this policy been implemented and enforced; had the former slaves actually had access to the ownership of land, of property; if they had had a chance to be self-sufficient economically, to build, accrue and pass on wealth. After all, one of the principal promises of America was the possibility of average people being able to own land, and all that such ownership entailed. As we know all too well, this promise was not to be realized for the overwhelming majority of the nation’s former slaves, who numbered about 3.9 million.

What Exactly Was Promised?

Today, we commonly use the phrase “40 acres and a mule,” but few of us have read the Order itself. Three of its parts are relevant here. Section One bears repeating in full: “The islands from Charleston, south, the abandoned rice fields along the rivers for thirty miles back from the sea, and the country bordering the St. Johns river, Florida, are reserved and set apart for the settlement of the negroes [sic] now made free by the acts of war and the proclamation of the President of the United States. We have been taught in school that the source of the policy of “40 acres and a mule” was Union General William T. Sherman’s Special Field Order No. 15, issued on Jan. 16, 1865 (That account is half-right: Sherman prescribed the 40 acres in that Order, but not the mule. The mule would come later). But what many accounts leave out is that this idea for massive land redistribution actually was the result of a discussion that Sherman and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton held four days before Sherman issued the Order, with 20 leaders of the black community in Savannah, Ga., where Sherman was headquartered following his famous March to the Sea. The meeting was unprecedented in American history.

“Imagine how profoundly different race relations in the US would have been had the former slaves had access to the ownership of land…to build, accrue and pass on wealth.” – Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Section Two specifies that these new communities, moreover, would be governed entirely by black people themselves: “… on the islands, and in the settlements hereafter to be established, no white person whatever, unless military officers and soldiers detailed for duty, will be permitted to reside; and the sole and exclusive management of affairs will be left to the freed people themselves … By the laws of war, and orders of the President of the United States, the negro [sic] is free and must be dealt with as such.”

Finally, Section Three specifies the allocation of land: “… each family shall have a plot of not more than (40) acres of tillable ground, and when it borders on some water channel, with not more than 800 feet water front, in the possession of which land the military authorities will afford them protection, until such time as they can protect themselves, or until Congress shall regulate their title.”

With this Order, 400,000 acres of land — “a strip of coastline stretching from Charleston, South Carolina, to the St. John’s River in Florida, including Georgia’s Sea Islands and the mainland thirty miles in from the coast,” as Barton Myers reports — would be redistributed to the newly freed slaves. The extent of this Order and its larger implications are mind-boggling, actually.

Who Came Up With the Idea?

Here’s how this radical proposal — which must have completely blown the minds of the rebel Confederates — actually came about. The abolitionists Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens and other Radical Republicans had been actively advocating land redistribution “to break the back of Southern slaveholders’ power,” as Myers observed. But Sherman’s plan only took shape after the meeting that he and Stanton held with those black [leaders], at 8:00 p.m., Jan. 12, on the second floor of Charles Green’s mansion on Savannah’s Macon Street (pictured). In its broadest strokes, “40 acres and a mule” was their idea.

Stanton, aware of the great historical significance of the meeting, presented Henry Ward Beecher (Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous brother) a verbatim transcript of the discussion, which Beecher read to his congregation at New York’s Plymouth Church and which the New York Daily Tribune printed in full in its Feb. 13, 1865, edition. Stanton told Beecher that “for the first time in the history of this nation, the representatives of the government had gone to these poor debased people to ask them what they wanted for themselves.” Stanton had suggested to Sherman that they gather “the leaders of the local Negro community” and ask them something no one else had apparently thought to ask: “What do you want for your own people” following the war? And what they wanted astonishes us even today.

Who were these 20 thoughtful leaders who exhibited such foresight? They were all ministers, mostly Baptist and Methodist. Most curious of all to me is that 11 of the 20 had been born free in slave states, of which 10 had lived as free men in the Confederacy during the course of the Civil War (The other one, a man named James Lynch, was born free in Maryland, a slave state, and had only moved to the South two years before). The other nine ministers had been slaves in the South who became “contraband,” and hence free, only because of the Emancipation Proclamation, when Union forces liberated them.

“Sherman’s plan only took shape after meeting with black ministers. 40 acres and a mule was their idea.” –  Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Their chosen leader and spokesman was a Baptist minister named Garrison Frazier, aged 67, who had been born in Granville, N.C., and was a slave until 1857, “when he purchased freedom for himself and wife for $1000 in gold and silver,” as the New York Daily Tribune reported. Rev. Frazier had been “in the ministry for thirty-five years,” and it was he who bore the responsibility of answering the 12 questions that Sherman and Stanton put to the group. The stakes for the future of the Negro people were high.

And Frazier and his brothers did not disappoint. What did they tell Sherman and Stanton that the Negro most wanted? Land! “The way we can best take care of ourselves,” Rev. Frazier began his answer to the crucial third question, “is to have land, and turn it and till it by our own labor … and we can soon maintain ourselves and have something to spare … We want to be placed on land until we are able to buy it and make it our own.” And when asked next where the freed slaves “would rather live — whether scattered among the whites or in colonies by themselves,” without missing a beat, Brother Frazier (as the transcript calls him) replied that “I would prefer to live by ourselves, for there is a prejudice against us in the South that will take years to get over … ” When polled individually around the table, all but one — James Lynch, 26, the man who had moved south from Baltimore — said that they agreed with Frazier. Four days later, Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 15, after President Lincoln approved it.

What Became of the Land That Was Promised?

The response to the Order was immediate. When the transcript of the meeting was reprinted in the black publication Christian Recorder, an editorial note intoned that “From this it will be seen that the colored people down South are not so dumb as many suppose them to be,” reflecting North-South, slave-free black class tensions that continued well into the modern civil rights movement. The effect throughout the South was electric: As Eric Foner explains, “the freedmen hastened to take advantage of the Order.” Baptist minister Ulysses L. Houston, one of the group that had met with Sherman, led 1,000 blacks to Skidaway Island, Ga., where they established a self-governing community with Houston as the “black governor.” And by June, “40,000 freedmen had been settled on 400,000 acres of ‘Sherman Land.’” By the way, Sherman later ordered that the army could lend the new settlers mules; hence the phrase, “40 acres and a mule.”

And what happened to this astonishingly visionary program, which would have fundamentally altered the course of American race relations? Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s successor and a sympathizer with the South, overturned the Order in the fall of 1865, and, as Barton Myers sadly concludes, “returned the land along the South Carolina, Georgia and Florida coasts to the planters who had originally owned it” — to the very people who had declared war on the United States of America.

Reposted from PBS.org “The African Americans: Many Rivers To Cross.” http://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/the-truth-behind-40-acres-and-a-mule/.  Accessed 2/24/2016.

Hear NPR’s podcast, “The Story Behind ’40 Acres And A Mule'” on All Things Considered here:


 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • After President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865,  Andrew Johnson, his successor, overturned Special Field Order No. 15.
  • The freedmen were forced off of the land granted to them by Special Filed Order No. 15, including the Skidaway Island establishment.
  • Today, Skidaway Island, GA is one of the most affluent communities in the United States. Less than 0.9% of the inhabitants are the descendants of African slaves.

An African American man prays at the West Angeles candlelight service.

Elder Charles Blake II on the Importance of the Black Church

As a part of our Elder’s Corner series, Elder Charles Edward Blake II took time to reflect on the history and importance of the black church. 

“Over the course of centuries, black churches served as “hush harbors” where slaves could worship in safety, praise houses where their free descendants could gather and shout hallelujah. (They were) rest stops for the weary along the Underground Railroad, bunkers for the foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement. They have been, and continue to be, community centers where we organize for jobs and justice, places of scholarship and network, places where children are loved and fed and kept out of harm’s way, and told that they are beautiful and smart and taught that they matter. That’s what happens in church” – President Barack Obama, in the eulogy for Clementa C. Pinckney, Pastor of Emmanuel AME Church.

As I listened to our President deliver this historic, heartfelt [speech], I was especially drawn to his comments on the historical significance of the black church in American history. I have believed that the black church is as our president described: the beating heart of the black community. The first African American schools, hospitals, farming co-ops, workers unions, and many more aspects of our community, came out of the black church. After the Civil War and slavery had ended, the church was the only institution the black community had to protect our civil rights during Reconstruction.

Years later, however, after the Civil Rights Era, other secular African-American organizations did our civil rights work for us. Today, it would now seem that many of the rights that we gained during that time have either slowly eroded, or have not been realized at all by our community.

“The Black church is as our President described: the beating heart of the black community.” – Elder Charles E. Blake, Jr.

In light of what the church has been to our community in the past, we must continue to question: “Who are we as the church in the present?”

Impacting Our Future

As the church, we have the power to impact nations and transform cities. Yet many of us have not allowed ourselves to be transformed by the Gospel into something new that God can use to help someone else. We praise his name and the Spirit of the Lord is here…there’s no doubt about it! But while this Word, this truth, this gospel is widely believed and agreed upon and we praise the Lord for it, it is a truth we widely take for granted. We have to really ask ourselves: “Is the world a better place because we are in it? Is this a better church because I’m a part of it?”

We are called not only to worship Christ, but also to truly follow him. So, how do we do that? Mark 10:43-45 says:

43 “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

We have to remember beloved, that as members of the body of Christ, we have all been called as missionaries, evangelists, and ministers (Ephesians 4:11). We are here to follow Jesus’ example, to serve even those who we may feel don’t deserve it, in order to be a light to others. The church must be a better church because we are a part of it. The world must be a better place because we are in it.

Like the apostles themselves, we don’t deserve what Christ did for us when He died on the cross. But when we serve others and live our lives with integrity, God can look at our lives as an investment and pour out His blessings. We then honor the price that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ paid for us, and we begin to do our part to become the church He created us to be.

 

Elder Charles Edward Blake II serves as Assistant Pastor and Director of Community Relations of West Angeles Church of God In Christ, under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. He received his BS in Marketing from Oral Roberts University, and studied for his MD at the Interdenominational Theological Center. Elder Blake also serves as the General Manager of the Los Angeles Ecumenical Congress.  He and wife DeAndra are the proud parents of two sons. 

Pay your pledge online!  To donate to the West Angeles FAMILY LIFE CAMPAIGN, please click HERE.
CAM29355-L

Bishop Blake Shares Black History in the Bible

“We need to reach back to our homeland, reach back to Africa.” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake

Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake shares a Black History Month lesson that transcends the ages, beginning in Africa, thousands of years before the birth of Christ. He shares the stories of Moses, the Queen of Sheba, and Joseph; the slave trade, and the roots of Pentecostalism, revealing the connection between people of African descent and the roots of Christianity.

See this entire Black History celebration on West Angeles’ Gospel On Demand hereHighlights from Bishop Blake’s “A Sermon for Black History Month” follow:

“Two thousand years before the birth of Jesus Christ, Moses traveled to Midian, in the southern part of the fertile crescent. There, Moses married a dark-skinned Midianite woman. Moses married an Ethiopian, and Ethiopian people in her family became counselors and advisers to Moses.”

“Almost 1,000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, the Queen of Sheba – also known as Kush or Ethiopia – visited King Solomon. She came from Africa with many camels, spices, gold, and precious stones. Her nation and her culture had obviously existed long before that time.”

“The Ethiopian Piankhi established the 24th Egyptian Dynasty. And at least four Egyptian Kings ruled over Egypt from 730 BC until 66 BC…great nations, great civilizations, great cultures existed in Africa centuries before Jesus Christ was born.”

“One of the greatest generals of all time was a man by the name of Hannibal from the city of Carthage in Northern Africa. Hannibal frequently defied and defeated Rome between 219 and 203 BC.”

“In 1498 AD, Portuguese explorers wrote that they found along the east African coast tall stone towns of comfort and of wealth. They found people who were highly civilized and skilled in the use of the compass, and in reading charts.”

“Timbuktu was a magnificent city where merchants made greater profit from the sale of books than from the sale of any other commodity.”

“In the areas of science, art, medicine, government, law and culture, many of the nations of Africa were competitive with, and in many cases, more advanced than the other nations of the world in Europe and Asia during that period. All of this was devastated by the slave trade; by slavery, and by Colonialism.”

“William Banks gives us the report in his book, The Black Church in the U.S., that nearly 20 million Negroes were made captive over the span of some 300 years, from 1517 until 1840. They were crammed …into ships like sardines in a can, and brought across the Atlantic from the Gulf of Guinea to the New World. The trip that they made was called ‘The Middle Passage.’ It’s estimated that perhaps 12 million blacks landed in South America and Latin America, and about 2 million of them were brought into the U.S.”

“What happened to the millions that were taken away from Africa? Some died resisting capture. Some died in captivity. While waiting in Africa to be shipped out, some committed suicide, not willing to be captured. Others, beaten and too weak to continue the trek, were abandoned to die.”

“After all we went through, God blessed us to be productive; to rise above our oppression and attain excellence.” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake

“Most of the loss of life came during the Middle Passage, that journey across the ocean from Africa to the New World. Perhaps not more than half of the slaves which were shipped out from Africa ever became effective workers in the New World.”

“What was the impact of the loss of 20 million of its inhabitants on the culture and the nations of Africa? How many died trying to defend their families in the violence associated with the slave trade?”

“After the slave trade came the horrible period of Colonialism, in which horrible invaders did to Africa’s resources what those before them did to Africa’s people. What was the value of the people and of the resources that were taken from the continent of Africa?”

“After all we went through, we still produced a Benjamin Banneker, maker of the first American clock; Sojourner Truth; George Washington Carver; Charles Drew… Benjamin O Davis; Ralph Bunche; Booker T. Washington; Marion Anderson; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Malcolm X; Colin Powell; Barack Obama!”

“During the dark day of the Crucifixion, the Jews were condemning [Jesus] and calling for His death. Europe, represented by the Roman Centurions, drove nails into the hands of feet of Jesus. But Africa, represented by Simon of Cyrene, a black man from Northwest Africa, stepped in when everybody else was stepping back…Simon of Cyrene shared history’s most significant moment with the Christ: he bore the Cross of Christ up Calvary’s Hill.”

“Jesus will not allow you to bear your cross by yourself. If anybody out there needs help with your cross, give praise to the Lord, and He will help you to bear your cross!”

“God chose black hands and woolly hair to perform an act that all the truly wise and all the truly great…Godly men of the earth would have been overjoyed to perform: bearing the Cross of Jesus Christ.”

“If Joseph were here, he would say, ‘Don’t ever give up on your dream.'”  – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake

“The Ethiopian secretary of the treasury was to pass in his chariot…this Ethiopian nobleman heard and believed the gospel, and after being baptized, this nobleman went back to Ethiopia to form the Abyssinian Church that exists until this day. He was the first Gentile of record to be saved…a Black man.”

“Historian Dean (Henry Hart) Milman has said, “It was Africa, not Rome, which gave birth to Latin Christianity. Africa gave three of the greatest scholars of the church to the church. Augustine, Tertullian, Cyprian, were all born in Northern Africa.”

“Anyone who says that Christianity is a white man’s religion and not a black man’s religion really doesn’t know anything about Christianity.”

“Christianity is not a white man’s religion it’s not a black man’s religion…it’s just man’s religion! Halleluiah!”

“Black men have the privilege of being among the first leaders and participants in the Pentecostal and Charismatic revival that swept across the church in the early 1900s.”

“Historian and author Dr. H. Vinson Synan says that) Charles F. Parham, a white man, and William J. Seymour, a black man, share roughly equal positions as founders of modern Pentecostalism.”

“A key man in that contagious spread (of Pentecostalism) was a man by the name of Charles Harrison Mason, a black man and the father of founder of the Church of God In Christ. In 1907, Elder Mason went to Los Angeles and participated in the Azuza Revival and received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.”

“Scores of white ministers obtained ministerial credentials from Elder Mason from the Church of God In Christ. One group in Alabama and Texas received permission to use the name of the church in 1912, and this continued until 1914, when they organized and called their predominantly white organization the Assemblies of God.”

“When Bishop Mason passed in 1961, he left behind him one of the largest Pentecostal bodies in the world.”

“Christianity is not a white man’s religion. It’s not a black man’s religion…it’s just man’s religion.” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake

“There are many parallels between [African Americans] and the experience of Joseph. In jail, Joseph held on to the dream. Black people held on to the dream in slavery. We believed that God was going to deliver us, and praise God; God did deliver us. We held onto the dream!”

“Somebody in here is going through something evil, but I want you to know God meant it for good! God is going to turn it around!”

“We need to reach back to our homeland; reach back to Africa.”

“If you pursue the purpose of God, God is going to work everything out for your good.”

“God worked it out for it us, and God is gonna work it out for you…but you’ve got to hold on to the dream!”

“Does anybody have a dream in here? Anybody have a vision? Do you have something you’re reaching for? Listen: God is going to bring it to pass!”

“If you hold on to God, if you trust God: ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of god and His righteousness, and all of these things shall be added unto you.”

“Child of God, I just came by to tell you that God has great miracles in store for you!”

“If Joseph were here, and if he could testify, he would say to you, ‘Don’t ever give up on your dream. Don’t ever give up on your vision.”

“God has Blessed us, but I don’t believe God is through with us yet.”

“The story of Joseph can be your story. The story of your people can be your story…Praise God for your future!”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: Genesis 37-50, Numbers 10:29, Numbers 12:1-9, Isaiah 40:31, Romans 8:28; Romans 8:31-39, Matthew 6:33.

POWERonearth

Black History Performance: “Power On Earth”

PoweronEarthLA (1)

ONE NIGHT ONLY!

Experience the electrifying journey on the pathways to freedom

as actor Darryl Van Leer presents

POWER ON EARTH

The Adventure of a Lifetime

A one-man show performed at the West Angeles Performing Arts Theatre.

There will be one show only,

Saturday, February 20

at 7:00 p.m..

Tickets are on sale at the West Angeles Theatre box office.

Call 323-733-8707.

black_history

Bishop Blake: A Sermon For Black History Month

“We need to reach back to our homeland; reach back to Africa.” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake

For Black History Month, Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake took the congregation of West Angeles Church of God In Christ back to school with a Black History lesson that transcended the ages. He began his sermon in Africa, thousands of years before the birth of Christ, with the stories of Moses, the Queen of Sheba, the slave trade, and the roots of Pentecostalism, to reveal the connection between people of African descent and the roots of Christianity.

Bishop Blake was also inspired by the story of Joseph in Genesis, who married an Egyptian woman, and cited parallels between Joseph’s journey and the historic journey of African Americans.

See this entire Black History celebration on West Angeles’ Gospel On Demand here.

Highlights from the sermon follow:

“Two thousand years before the birth of Jesus Christ, Moses traveled to Midian, in the southern part of the fertile crescent. There, Moses married a dark-skinned Midianite woman. Moses married an Ethiopian, and Ethiopia people in her family became counselors and advisers to Moses.”

“Almost 1,000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, the queen of Sheba –also known as Kush or Ethiopia – visited King Solomon. She came from Africa with many camels, spices, gold, and precious stones. Her nation and her culture had obviously existed long before that time.”

“The Ethiopian Piankhi established the 24th Egyptian Dynasty. And at least four Egyptian Kings ruled over Egypt from 730 BC until 66 BC…great nations, great civilizations, great cultures existed in Africa centuries before Jesus Christ was born.”

“One of the greatest generals of all time was a man by the name of Hannibal from the city of Carthage in Northern Africa. Hannibal frequently defied and defeated Rome between 219 and 203 BC.”

“In 1498 AD, Portuguese explorers wrote that they found along the east African coast tall stone towns of comfort and of wealth. They found people who were highly civilized and skilled in the use of the compass, and in reading charts.”

“Timbuktu was a magnificent city where merchants made greater profit from the sale of books than from the sale of any other commodity.”

“In the areas of science, art, medicine, government, law, and culture, many of the nations of Africa were competitive with, and in many cases more advanced than, the other nations of the world in Europe and Asia during that period. All of this was devastated by the slave trade; by slavery, and by Colonialism.”

“William Banks gives us the following report in his book, ‘The Black Church In The US’: nearly 20 million Negroes were made captive over the span of some 300 years, from 1517 until 1840. They were crammed …into ships like sardines in a can, and brought across the Atlantic from the Gulf of Guinea to the New World. The trip that they made was called ‘The Middle Passage’. It’s estimated that perhaps 12 million Blacks landed in South America and Latin America, and about 2 million of them were brought into the US.”

“What happened to the millions that were taken away from Africa? Some died resisting capture. Some died in captivity. While waiting in Africa to be shipped out, some committed suicide, not willing to be captured. Others, beaten and too weak to continue the trek, were abandoned to die.”

“Most of the loss of life came during the Middle Passage, that journey across the ocean from Africa to the New World. Perhaps not more than half of the slaves which were shipped out from Africa ever became effective workers in the New World.”

“What was the impact of the loss of 20 million of its inhabitants on the culture and the nations of Africa? How many died trying to defend their families in the violence associated with the slave trade?”

“After the slave trade came the horrible period of Colonialism, in which horrible invaders did to Africa’s resources what those before them did to Africa’s people. What was the value of the people and of the resources that were taken from the continent of Africa?”

“After all we went through, we still produced a Benjamin Banneker, maker of the first American clock; Sojourner Truth; George Washington Carver; Charles Drew… Benjamin O Davis; Ralph Bunche; Booker T. Washington; Marion Anderson; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Malcolm X; Colin Powell; Barack Obama!”

“After all we went through, God blessed us to be productive; to rise above our oppression and attain excellence.” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake

“During the dark day of the Crucifixion, the Jews were condemning [Jesus] and calling for His death. Europe, represented by the Roman Centurions, drove nails into the hands of feet of Jesus. But Africa, represented by Simon of Cyrene, a Black man from Northwest Africa, stepped in when everybody else was stepping back…Simon of Cyrene shared history’s most significant moment with the Christ: he bore the Cross of Christ up Calvary’s Hill.”

“Jesus will not allow you to bear your cross by yourself. If anybody out there needs help with your cross, give praise to the Lord, and He will help you to bear your cross!”

“God chose black hands and wooly hair to perform an act that all the truly wise and all the truly great…Godly men of the earth would have been overjoyed to perform: bearing the Cross of Jesus Christ.”

“The Ethiopian secretary of the treasury was to pass in his chariot…this Ethiopian nobleman heard and believed the gospel, and after being baptized, this nobleman went back to Ethiopia to form the Abyssinian Church that exists until this day. He was the first Gentile of record to be saved: a Black man.”

“Historian Dean (Henry Hart) Milman has said, “It was Africa, not Rome, which gave birth to Latin Christianity. Africa gave three of the greatest scholars of the church to the church. Augustine, Tertullian, Cyprian, were all born in Northern Africa.”

“Anyone who says that Christianity is a white man’s religion and not a black man’s religion really doesn’t know anything about Christianity.”

“Christianity is not a white man’s religion it’s not a black man’s religion: it’s just man’s religion! Halleluiah!”

“Black men have the privilege of being among the first leaders and participants in the Pentecostal and Charismatic revival that swept across the church in the early 1900’s.”

“(Historian and author Dr. H. Vinson Synan says that) Charles F. Parham, a white man, and William J. Seymour, a Black man, share roughly equal positions as founders of modern Pentecostalism.”

“A key man in that contagious spread (of Pentecostalism) was a man by the name of Charles Harrison Mason, a Black man and the father of founder of the Church Of God in Christ. In 1907, Elder Mason went to Los Angeles and participated in the Azuza Revival and received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.”

“Scores of white ministers obtained ministerial credentials from Elder Mason from the Church of God In Christ. One group in Alabama and Texas received permission to use the name of the church in 1912, and this continued until 1914, when they organized and called their predominantly white organization the Assemblies of God.”

“When Bishop Mason passed in 1961, he left behind him one of the largest Pentecostal bodies in the world.”

“Christianity belongs to all of us! Aren’t you glad that you know Jesus Christ?” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake

“There are many parallels between [African Americans] and the experience of Joseph. In jail, Joseph held on to the dream. Black people held on to the dream in slavery. We believed that God was going to deliver us, and praise God: God did deliver us. We held onto the dream!”

“Somebody in here is going through something evil, but I want you to know God meant it for good! God is going to turn it around!”

“We need to reach back to our homeland; reach back to Africa.”

“If you pursue the purpose of God, God is going to work everything out for your good.”

“God worked it out for it us, and God is gonna work it out for you: but you’ve got to hold on to the dream!”

“Does anybody have a dream in here? Anybody have a vision? Do you have something you’re reaching for? Listen: God is going to bring it to pass!”

“If you hold on to God, if you trust God: ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of god and His righteousness, and all of these things shall be added unto you.”

“Child of God, I just came by to tell you that God has great miracles in store for you!”

“If Joseph were here, and if he could testify, he would say to you, ‘Don’t ever give up on your dream: don’t ever give up on your vision.”

“God has Blessed us, but I don’t believe God is through with us yet”.

“The story of Joseph can be your story. The story of your people can be your story…Praise God for your future!”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: Genesis 37-50, Num10:29, Numbers 12:1-9, Isaiah 40:31, Romans 8:28; Romans 8:31-39, Matthew 6:33.

Colorism

7 Things You Need to Know About Colorism

Black History Month is a great time to unravel a topic many of us are talking about: colorism.

Galatians 5:16, 25-26: 16: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

What is colorism? A byproduct of racism, especially in the U.S., colorism attempts to create hierarchies and social value through skin tone. And in the world as we know it, the lighter the better. Also known as “interracism,” colorism – discrimination between people of the same race – is an after-effect of institutions such as slavery, imperialism, and apartheid; a “divide-and-conquer” methodology created and used by oppressive societies against those they oppress.

Colorism can become a “coping mechanism” for those who perceive themselves in the position of lesser power, who feel they can assimilate into the dominant culture they live in by assuming the characteristics of that culture. Those in power seek to “divide and conquer,” fueling divisions by creating stereotypes and by promoting a racial exclusivity which favors the dominant culture (and lightest skin tones).

In a nutshell, it perpetuates a legacy of pain and oppression.

Cultures of color around the world have been affected by colorism, and its effects manifest in various ways. Darker-skinned people bleach their skin and alter their features to appear more European. People with lighter skin give preferential treatment to others with light skin tones while vilifying those who are darker. Darker people abuse those with lighter skin out of jealousy.  The list of symptoms goes on and on, but the biggest issue berthed from colorism? It goes against God’s Will for us.

Here are 7 things you need to know about colorism:

  1. Colorism breaks a commandment. An idol  is anything we focus on more than God which consumes our attention, our time, our resources; something that occupies a place in our lives that only God should. Colorism’s obsession with skin color and physical attributes is what the bible considers to be idolatry. God’s second Commandment says that we shouldn’t bow down to idols, and that if we do, future generations will be affected by the same issues (Exodus 20:4-5). Many of us first felt the pain of colorism from our parents, and they from their parents. But in order for us to fully experience God’s love, we have to end the sin of colorism with our generation by holding onto the truth of His Word and obeying His Will (Exodus 20:6)
  2. It’s a distraction. Colorism literally puts our focus on the flesh – and that’s sin. As Bishop Blake says, “Satan doesn’t want us, he wants our purpose,” and when we focus on the flesh, our pain and our afflictions, it takes us away from focus on our purpose. If Satan can distract us from the reason God created us in the first place, then we miss out on the manifestation of God’s Kingdom on earth (Matthew 6:13), and on the realization of our own place in the big picture.
  3. Colorism is bullying. Those engaging in colorism often abuse others whose skin tone is different from theirs. The truth is, when someone bullies us for any reason, it’s a sign they’re suffering from their own pain and are trying to transfer that pain to us. Whether we’re the bully or the victim, know that Jesus was bruised for our transgressions; He died and rose again so that we all will know that we have the ability to transcend hurt and pain, too (Isaiah 53:5).
  4. Colorism springs from a lack of knowledge. We’ve heard the saying, “You won’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.” God also says, “My people perish for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).” When we know the Word, who we are,  and the historic triumphs of those who look like us and share our beliefs, we’re armed with the weapons to thrive.
  5. It divides us. Like a cancer which eats away at the body, colorism and racism divide the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:10). Mark 3:25 says, “And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
  6. Colorism robs you of your blessings. Remember when Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt, but because of all their issues, they never made it into the Promised Land (Numbers 11)? Wouldn’t it be a pity to be so focused on skin color, physical appearance, or the pain in our past, that we totally miss out on the miraculous life God has in store for us today too (Galatians 5:1)?
  7. Colorism is not God’s state for us. Does God see color? I’d say yes – and He loves every shade because He created them all! Our diversity is God’s way of showing us the beauty of His creation, and is a true test of our ability to love. Remember: we are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).

Scientists believe that in our future lies an era when all races become one big beige melting pot. But that world comes at a price, which is loss of culture, history, diversity and truth. Just as a rainbow can’t exist with only one color – and God created the rainbow as a sign of His covenant with us (Genesis 9:13) – being a true reflection of His love means honoring all the colors and cultures He created.

After millenniums of the trials, enslavement, and triumphs of our forefathers, we can’t allow skin color to now take us off course. As Christians, it’s time to purge both colorism and racism from our lives through prayer, repentance, and adherence to the Word. It’s time to “set our sights on things ahead” (Phillipians 3:12-14), and, through Jesus Christ, be freed from the enslavement of demons from our past.

Karen Lascaris is a regular contributor to Westa.org. She’s the author of “In Our Own Image: Treasured African American Traditions, Journeys, and Icons” (Running Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2001).  She was featured in the colorism documentary “Light Girls,” which will air on the Oprah Winfrey Network during Black History Month.

Want to read more about idols? Click here for our post and podcast titled, “What is An idol?”

To read more about repentance, click here for our post and podcast, “What Is Repentance?”.

Screen-shot-2013-04-09-at-2.13.41-PM-940x529

A Message For Black History Month- Bishop Charles E. Blake

A Message For Black History Month-Bishop Charles E. Blake from West Angeles COGIC on Vimeo.

Add to Cart