Summary: This sermon is about the importance of telling our personal testimonies of faith even in oppressing situations.
A Slave Narrative by Rev. A. L. Torrence, Pastor of Cross of Life Lutheran Church
"She said to her mistress, ’Would that my master, Namaan, were with the prophet who is in Samaria. he would cure him of his leprosy’..."
(Please note that this sermon was an effort to celebrate the rich African American heritage during Black History Month)
After the civil war within our country, many historians took the time to document the words of those born into slavery. HBO in conjunction with various African American actors and directors have brought these testimonies and narratives to the media during this month commemorating our African/Caribbean Heritage. These are just a few excerpts from their various collections simply entitled: “Slave Narratives”. And I must forewarn you that these are direct quotations without editing. Please bear in mind that the labeling used was during a dark time in our society before our need for political correctness and sensibilities. Therefore, please forgive the use of the ‘n’ word.
· Charity Anderson (borne at belle’s landing in Monroe County) "My old Marster was a good man, he treated all his slaves kind, and took care of dem, he wanted to leave dem hisn chillun. It sho’ was hard for us older uns to keep de little cullered chillun out ob de dinin’ room whar ol marster ate, cause when dey would slip in and stan’ by his cheer, when he finished eatin’ he would fix a plate and gib dem and dey would set on de hearth and eat. But honey chile, all white folks warn ’t good to dere slaves, cause I’se seen pore niggers almos’ tore up by dogs, and whipped unmercifully, when dey did’nt do lack de white folks say . But thank God I had good white folks, dey sho’ did trus’ me to, I had charge of all de keys in the house and I waited on de Missy and de chillun.
· Henry Watson b. 1813: He says, “There was a slave on the farm by the name of Jo. The overseer had threatened to put him in the stocks, for some trivial offence. Jo, dreading the severity of the punishment, ran away, which fact was soon brought to my master’s knowledge, who ordered the overseer to shoot him the first time he saw him. The overseer, being a bloodthirsty fiend, like my master, kept strict watch for Jo; and the second night, he saw him but a short distance from his cabin, where he was probably going for the purpose of seeing his wife, and getting something to eat; but he never saw those eyes light up with pleasure,--never heard the sweet music of their voices, or felt their warm embrace,--for the incarnate fiend’s aim was too sure; he was stretched dead in an instant. Yes; this man was hurried into the presence of his Maker, without the power of speaking one word of prayer. On the master being informed that his brutal order had been obeyed, he gave orders that his body should not be removed from the spot where he fell, as he wished it to serve as an example to the rest of us; and there it remained, the vultures rioting and feasting on the remains of a man, whose only fault was a black skin.”
· Mary Reynolds: "Slavery was the worst days was ever seed in the world. They was things past tellin’, but I got the scars on my old body to show to this day. I seed worse than what happened to me. I seed them put the men and women in the stock with they hands screwed down through holes in the board and they feets tied together and they naked behinds to the world. "We was scart of Solomon and his whip, though, and he didn’t like frolickin’. He didn’t like for us niggers to pray, either. We never heared of no church, but us have prayin’ in the cabins. We’d set on the floor and pray with our heads down low and sing low, but if Solomon heared he’d come and beat on the wall with the stock of his whip. He’d say, I’ll come in there and tear the hide off you backs.’ But some the old niggers tell us we got to pray to Gawd that he don’t think different of the blacks and the whites. I know that Solomon is burnin’ in hell today, and it pleasures me to know it. "Once my maw and paw taken me and Katherine after night to slip to nother place to a prayin’ and singin’. A nigger man with white beard told us a day am comin’ when niggers only be slaves of Gawd. We prays for the end of Trib’lation and the end of beatin’s and for shoes that fit our feet. We prayed that us niggers could have all we wanted to eat and special for fresh meat. Some the old ones say we have to bear all, cause that all we can do. Some say they was glad to the time they’s dead, cause they’d rather rot in the ground than have the beatin’s. What I hated most was when they’d beat me and I didn’t know what they beat me for, and I hated they strippin’ me naked as the day I was born. "When we’s comin’ back from that prayin’, I thunk I heared the nigger dogs and somebody on horseback. I say, Maw, its them nigger hounds and they’ll eat us up.’ You could hear them old hounds and sluts abayin’. Maw listens and say, Sho nough, them dogs am running’ and Gawd help us!’ Then she and paw talk and they take us to a fence corner and stands us up gainst the rails and say don’t move and if anyone comes near, don’t breathe loud. They went to the woods, so the hounds chase them and not git us. Me and Katherine stand there, holdin’ hands, shakin’ so we can hardly stand. We hears the hounds come nearer, but we don’t move. They goes after paw and maw, but they circles round to the cabins and gits in. Maw say its the power of Gawd.