Excerpt from The Negro: His Rights and Wrongs, the Forces for Him and Against Him
This wail of despair is again heard at the Mount Of God, And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights, unto Ho'reb, the Mount of God. And he came thither into a cave, and lodged there. And, behold, the word of the Ldrd came unto him, and said unto him, what doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts, for the children of Israel have forsaken thy Covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life to take it away. Elijah felt that if the three years and a half of famine, and the extraordinary and overpowering scenes which had been so recently witnessed at Carmel did not soften the hearts of the people and the rulers, and lead them to repent of their sms and do better, nothing would and therefore, that it was vain to continue the struggle longer. It is enough, 0 Lord, It is enough. That is, there is no use of trying any longer. The picture presented herebecomes still more striking when we remember the sturdy character of the man of whom we are speaking. He was no reed shaken by the wind no weakling; but a man of great strength or character, and of remarkable courage. He was not afraid to confront Ahab, though he knew he had been in search of him everywhere, with the murderous intent of putting him to death. Nor was he afraid when he met him to speak plainly and in terms to rebuke, I have not troubled Israel, but thou and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baal. And yet, it is this grand old warrior, this man of a hundred battles, this man who was a host in himself, and whose presence is symbolized by chariots and horses of fire, in the scene where he is translated, who sinks into despair, who is overwhelmed by the seemingly insurmountable obstacles with which he is confronted.
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Four sermons preached by Francis Grimké in 1898 in the aftermath of the Wilmington race massacre, but more broadly in the midst of the rising tide of lynching and Jim Crow racism in the United States in the 1890s. These sermons are in The Works of Francis Grimké, Volume 1, but I read a printed standalone version (as V1 is not available in print).
These sermons show Grimké as a powerful preacher and advocate for racial justice. He calls out racism and injustice from every angle; he calls out the cowardice and complicity of the "white pulpit"; he notes the need for armed self defense in the face of brutal lynchings and the fact that Black people could expect no help from law enforcement.
Grimké strikes a balance between prayer and action, or "agitation" as he calls it:
"I believe in the reality of prayer. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe that our cause can be helped by prayer. This doesn't mean that we are to do nothing but pray, that we are to fold our arms and expect God to fight our battles for us: nor does it mean that we are not to stand up for our rights, that we are not to agitate, and protest against wrong,--the protest must go on... what it means is, that in the midst of hte conflict, while we are doing all we can, while we are seeking to make the most of ourselves and of our opportunities, we are at the same time to lay fast hold of hte Almighty"
A word for today, 125 years later.
When someone asks, "where should I start reading Francis Grimké," this might be my new "go to." It's such a good introduction to the powerful witness of this minister and agitator for justice.
I read this because it was recommended in Isaac Adam's book on race (which I thoroughly enjoyed). This book is a collection of sermons pastor Grimke, an African-American, gave to his predominantly black church in Washington D.C. in the early 1900's. I had hoped it would demonstrate a unique window into the kind of expository preaching of the black church, but these were less sermons and were more lectures on the plight of African-Americans in the early 20th century. It was a very great window into *that*, but because I had different expectations when coming to the book, it left me feeling disappointed. In some of the sermons, Grimke doesn't even interact with any Scripture.
One note though was the amount of poetry that Grimke cited in his sermons--I loved that! I wish more sermons incorporated poetry like pastor Grimke.