Prior to reading the sources from Sernett for this week, I hadn’t contemplated how the Great Migration would effect northern African American church communities. I was most interested in the source “Address on the Great Migration” delivered at the African Methodist Episcopal Council of Bishops. One of the most significant parts to this reading was the author’s word choice in delivering this address. Although it is clear that this church and its leaders still want the best for their black brothers and sisters moving to the north for the chance of better opportunities, a slightly negative feeling is conveyed by Benjamin F. Lee. The statement that particularly stood out to me was “whatever may be the cause or causes of the exodus, the fact remains the same, that the sudden change, both as it relates to climatic and customs, will be accompanied by problems varied and serious” (361). While problems are unavoidable, the language used here doesn’t seem to take into consideration that a larger population size of African Americans could lead to a growing feeling of agency in regard to northern white populations.
The Great African American Migration took its toll on the black churches down south, a it was safe haven for many African American’s attended it, but The Episcopal Council of Bishops saw it a a weird thing, but too it good faith that God had a mission for these people.
Azusa was “a phenomenon” that changed a women’s role in the church. Jarena Lee and Amanda Berry Smith went against what other thought to serve God’s call. Going against the social norms and men at that time was unjust. No one was supposed to do it. Richard Allen only saw racism as Lee saw sexism as well. It is one of the many reasons why intersectionality is hard to fight for. Someone else will think that you want something over another, rather than everything. Allen believed that there was no need for female preachers. Lee wanted to preach so much that as a free woman went to places where she could be captured just to spread her word. Lee did not have fear, it seems. She did impress Allen, but while he let her preach he did not let her be ordained. The women of Azusa Street did their best to be able to preach. They went through some extreme cases that no freed person would put themselves through. It was their dedication to the Lord that had do that.
I just genuinely find the topic of speaking in tongues so interesting. I’m not sure if speaking in tongues is real or not, as some people say that the speaking in tongues that people do today is very different from the tongues in the New Testament. The people who practice it today believe it to be a divine language, while skeptics say that when God blessed his apostles he gave them the ability to “speak in every language.” Skeptics also say that this gift, and many others ceased with the apostolic age. This obviously brings some doubt to my mind, but it is hard to completely disbelieve when the people that speak in tongues genuinely believe that it is a holy language bought on by the holy spirit. I don’t think they do it for show or on purpose, which leaves me conflicted.
It is also interested that Catholics see speaking in tongues in the same manner as the skeptics, being that it is the ability to communicate in previously unlearned language, but see it as a sign of demonic possession. How did this come to be?
From this week’s reading, I was personally inspired by Marcus Garvey. His question, “Where’s a black man’s government,” made me think about society today. It’s a question that is still relevant. His response was iconic being, “I will help to make them.” He manifested and proclaimed more proper representation for black people, as I aspire to do. He battled with politicians shooting his ideas down, and then he turned that into a reason to establish his own organization. I was so inspired that I headed to youtube for more information on Garvey. I found a fairly recent and informative video on Garvey and his organization.
Also, the AME church’s talk on the world war was identical to the prophecies my mother always told me. “Instead of questioning the truth of Christianity, we should seek out the cause of our defeat and humiliation.” (360) It attacks the common statement that if the Lord loved us, He would not let us experience as many adversities as we have. It intensified the idea that the Lord lets you go through trials to prove your faith. This is a key ideal that my mom, as a minister, has always instilled in the fellowship and me.
I was always familiar with the name “Marcus Garvey” and I knew how much he contributed to African American history but I was not knowledgeable on his personal history. The fact that he was so open and honest about his parents along with his childhood was really inspiring to me. However, I was especially interested in his father. How can someone work their whole life to be successful, achieve it and then pass away without a legacy to leave behind for future generations? Situations similar to this one happen very often in the African American community but I feel like until the root of the problem is addressed we will never find a solution.
I actually found the chapter by Valerie Cooper to be the most interesting this week. Her analysis of women’s contribution to religion in the nineteenth century was intriguing to read. The description of women facing down their opposition and continuing to seek opportunities to preach and spread their sermons despite society’s many obstacles was particularly fascinating, as it reminded me a great deal of similar readings towards the beginning of the semester in which men described similar struggles and how they overcame them. For these readings, though, the women faced not only opposition due to society’s racism but also because of their gender, which meant that they faced more obstacles than even the authors of the prior readings. Cooper describes this struggle when she speaks of Jarena Lee, saying “Lee faced the agonizing double jeopardy that confounds the lives of African American women: she was inconveniently black and female in a social order that valued neither very highly, and more frequently undermined and underestimated both.” (Cooper 70) This statement is quite efficient in exposing to readers the extent of the difficulties that Jarena Lee faced, and made me pause to consider it for a moment. Women of the time faced many, varied struggles in order to pursue their calling, and it is inspirational to realize that they persisted in the face of all of their oppositions and succeeded regardless.
This reading was of particular interests to me because it brought to my attention things that I had never heard about before. We are all familiar with what happened after the fall of the Reconstruction Era- Jim Crow laws followed. Blacks were segregated from whites in almost every way imaginable. There is no doubt that this was a dark time in American history, but there was a good that was able to rise from these injustices. Azusa became important in religious history because it literally became the place that Pentecostal ideals were founded. However, again we see how men are reported more then female pastors at this time, which shows that not only were women leaders in the church, such as Jarena Lee still faced with the reality that women were still forced to keep in mind this “double-consciousness” while they were (able to) preaching, they still had to deal with blatant sexism. However, we see again that these women are giving guidance and conversion based upon their personal experiences, which I think is important to note because this is something that was stressed by Methodist- the conversion experience, and the personal emotions tied to that.
“The Nadir” (pg. 74) was something that I had never head about before. This term did follow a theme that I have read before though. Basically it was a time when African Americas waited for judgement day and knew that God would be merciful to them because of what they had suffered through on account of slavery. Also, maybe not as related, but I will include it nonetheless. I thought that the connection to Lazarus was very important. Previously, I had only known the name because he was the first man to be brought back to life. However, I think that Coop’s parallel of Lazarus’s place in heaven, and the authors comment that even in hell, the rich man still does not understand how his position has changed. I found this striking because it made me think of a comment from a few lectures back. When African Americas left white churches, whites of the church could not understand this. But, I think that it is important to understand that with the rise of Pentecostal theology, women preachers gained the power to understand that they were not dependent upon their previous churches, nor pastors, to be docile in the quest for enlightening themselves and others in their community.
Ps. Oh, look, there’s even an example of “speaking in tongues” in this parody. Ah, the wonders of YouTube.
I found this chapter very interesting. Jesus on the main line increased my knowledge about the Great Migration which was a topic that I was not very familiar with. The Migration had a major influence on African American culture in areas such as music and religion. After reading this chapter, I was reminded of a scholarly journal that studied the Great Migration and how it influenced the spread of ebonics or better know as African American Vernacular English. Attached is a link to the journal! This journal explains how after the Great Migration, ebonics became varied across the country due to how spread out African American’s were.
While all the readings this week were interesting I wanted to bring up the Bishop C.H. Mason Church of God in Christ, specifically the topic of tongue speaking. I guess I’m still a bit shaky on what tongue speaking exactly means. From what I understand tongue speaking is a personal dialogue between a person and god. While to some extent I understand why Mason felt it was so important for people to have that sort of experience as it meant the congregation was filled with people who had made a deep commitment to god and were unlikely to break that connection. The thing that really confused me about it though is that if everyone in that congregation had that personal contact with god then wouldn’t the congregation be a bit pointless? Why would people go to a congregation to talk about what god wants when they could communicate with god themselves? Or were these experiences only so people of the congregation could go and convert more people, growing the church but leaving behind any sense of unity within it?