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Faith of A Mustard Seed       

by Barbara Woods-Washington
Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

In my daily walk to study as a workman who desires to rightly divide the word of God, I left 2022 in an environment of contradiction, chaos, and confusion— in the National life.  I am more determined than ever to find voices that have penned with heart some very powerful, conscious and cognitive expressions of life concerning contemporary issues.  In the talk of who gives a sort of ‘First Word’, I am continuously drawn to W. E. B. Du Bois in his “The Souls of Black Folks“.  I speak of it often as a ‘Primer’ for the life and times of The Negro in America.  Since 1903 remaining so timely and oh so… powerful!

“After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second site in this American world,— a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world.  It is a peculiar sensation, this double consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.  One ever feels his two-ness,— an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings, two warring ideas in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,— this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self.  In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost.  He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa.  He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world.  He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face.

Here in America, in the few days since Emancipation, the black man’s turning hither and thither in hesitant and doubtful striving has often made his very strength to lose effectiveness.

— it is the contradiction of double aims. 

The would-be black savant was confronted by the paradox that the knowledge his people needed was a twice-told tale to his white neighbors, while the knowledge which would teach the white world was Greek to his own flesh and blood. 

The innate love of harmony and beauty that set the ruder souls of his people a-dancing and a-singing raised but confusion and doubt in the souls of the black artist; for the beauty revealed to him was the soul beauty of a race which his larger audience despised, and he could not articulate the message of another people.  This waste of double aims, this seeking to satisfy two unreconciled ideas, has wrought sad havoc with the courage and faith and deeds of ten thousand thousand people,— has sent them often wooing false gods and invoking false means of salvation, and at times has even seemed about to make them ashamed of themselves.”

Never underestimating the ‘Harvard Earned Degree’, a separate time must be given to this most important ‘Black Influencer’ Richard Greener having earned the first degree from Harvard in 1844; and the ‘1869 Trio’ of Edwin Howard, (Medicine), George Ruffin (Law) and Robert Freeman (Dental).  But, in this space and time look now, not at the national pitting of Du Bois against Booker T. Washington (I have come to absolutely loathe how this nation continues to ‘dog fight’ the greatest of our scholars, et. al. —never really hearing and knowing the depth of each unique contribution); total and complete attention shall be given to these two Black Influencers: W. E. B. Du Bois (Harvard 1895)  and Carter G. Woodson (Harvard 1912).

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