This being Black History month, I will again highlight some historical figures many will not recognize.
You may question as to why this is important. It is important because it is a part of our history. Any history which does not include impactful people, because of their color is flawed history. As I grew up in the late 1940s and 1950s, our history books contained little information about events which shamed our past.
I don’t remember ever hearing about the Tulsa Race Massacre, or the thousands of blacks who were lynched during the reconstruction period and even into the 50s. In 1900, a book was published declaring blacks were descendants of apes and whites were from Adam and Eve. The Scriptures are honest to portray the flaws of the heroes along with their strengths. So should our history, even if it shames us.
One significant figure you may know little about is Sojourner Truth. She was born into slavery in 1797. She was bought and sold four times, subjected to hard labor and violent punishment. Falling in love with a slave from another owner, she was forced to have children with a fellow slave by her current owner.
Finally, she escaped. In her words, she didn’t run away, feeling it would be disrespectful, she walked away. She found refuge in a Dutch abolitionist home. When her owner found her, her new master was willing to buy her freedom for $20.
She was strong physically — standing 6 feet tall—but also courageous and devoted to the civil rights of her race and of women’s rights. After converting to Christianity she became an evangelist, speaking nationally both for the cause of Christ and as an advocate for women’s rights, and the temperance movement as well as the abolishment of slavery.
She helped slaves to escape and recruited many black men to fight for the Union army. Her new faith sustained her. Once after hearing Frederick Douglas express the feeling that Whites would never give equality to the Black race, she stood and said, “Is God Dead?”
In one speech she said, “Children, who made your skin white? Was it not God? Who made mine black” Was it not the same God? Am I to blame, therefore, because my skin is black… does not God love colored children as well as white children?
And does not the same Savior die to save the one as well as the other.”She is best known for a speech she gave extemporaneously at the 1851 Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio. I share a portion of that speech, known as “Ain’t I a Woman.”
“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, or helped over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place. And ain’t I woman? Look at me! Look at my arm. I have ploughed and planted and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man — when I could get it — and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne 13 children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, not but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”
The epitaph on her tombstone reads, “Is God Dead?” In our day of doubt and fear, we would do well to ask that question. He can take the dark night of the soul and turn it into dancing.
“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.”Psalm 30:11
To comment, email jhm82@outlook or call (580) 772-2311.