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Faith of A Mustard Seed           

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

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.” ― Marcus Garvey

When we consider the True ‘Critical Race’ timeline of the American History’s Violence towards Black Nation, we can clearly see: Slavery, with all of it’s atrocities; to Incarceration of Freedmen; to post Emancipation Reconstruction Riot Massacres; to Lynching; to Bombing and Burning of Homes and Churches and Communities; to Black Codes and a long history of Legislative injustice; to Mass Incarceration; to the present Killings by Police in the streets across America.  This can by no means be legislated away as —Theory!

It is against this background that a very real history of “Who We Are” as a people in this Nation is difficult, very difficult to understand.  Particularly when each history captured continues to fall short of our leaders who have been responsible for the movement of their Visions and Missions of our most effective Institutions.  All attempts to make our Histories the product of White America, fail when we refuse to transmit knowledge of our past history… particularly when our purpose is cut short by the violence levied against us.

There is now a News break from Channel 11 Atlanta calling attention to a difficult situation that MUST NOT be ignored in relation to The Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta which is not without —ROOTS.

The Churches of Atlanta have provided a true Faith Based center for not just Atlanta, but Black Nation at large.  It is from these Churches that the Education of Black Nation has been a ‘Phoenix’ in the sustaining of Black Life, globally.  I am submitting here ‘pieces of history’ to the ‘LINKS’ that are not ‘Theory’ but are lost from the TRUE Histories… The ROOTS of Black Nation.  Even the ITC.edu Website has failed us in capturing the history of this Institution… the One place where we should see —these Roots.  So I say to you President Matthew W. Williams, please get THAT PART RIGHT, before you consider any FUTURE direction in which the I.T.C. should go. —Roots.

I have previously found the history of Clark University and Gammon Theological Seminary captured in The “1879 First Bulletin of Clark University”. The History is recorded there for posterity:

“Early in the year 1869, a primary school was opened in Clark Chapel, Atlanta, Ga. (now Central Church), by Rev. J. W. Lee and wife. Proving a success, it was adopted by the Freedmen’s Aid Society, and Rev. D. W. Hammond, appointed Principal, with Miss Leila Fuller and Miss Mary Dickinson, Assistants. Later in the year, the Summer Hill school-house was purchased, and the school transferred to that building. Miss Lou Henly was the next Principal, with her sister, Miss Kizzie Henly, and Miss Kitty Johnson, Assistants.”

An important ‘piece of History’ is only noted in this 1879 Bulletin of Clark University: The venture of Whites and Blacks together occurred with the move of Clark Chapel into the downtown all white Lloyd Street Methodist Episcopal Church:

“The following September, the school opened under the charge of Rev. I. Marcy, with Mrs. Mary and Miss Oldfield, Assistants. During the winter of this year, Rev. L. D. Barrows, D.D., taught a theological class in the basement of Loyd Street Church. In the spring the property on Whitehall street, was purchased, and the present institution put in operation. Dr. Barrows returned to the North, Rev. J. W. Lee (Pastor, Founder of the Clark Street Church School) was made President.” “The name (Clark Chapel) and Clark University was given to the Institution in honor of Bishop Clark, who visited this section of country shortly after the close of the war, and organized the Southern work. His deep interest in this field of labor never ceased while he lived. His library is now the property of the Institution, and his widow one of the trustees.”

It is a misnomer of history to think of Gammon Theological Seminary as having begun in Clark University.  Nor to think that Bishop Davis Wagstatt Clark; nor The Freedman’s Aide Society/Bureau have credit for the founding of these Two Institutions.  Both Institutions were Founded as schools IN the Clark Chapel/Lloyd Street/Central Church, Atlanta.  This history could ever be complete without the NAME of Clark Chapel’s Pastor, Rev. J. W. Lee who became the President of Clark University.

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