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Faith of A Mustard Seed

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

‘2024 The Era of Truth’ —requires a deeper synoptic; a far greater look at Black History in this Month set apart. Far more than just the repetition of selected heroes and sheroes of stature as single individuals; but a SINGLE accounting for what the work of all these individuals mean to the WHOLE as we face the same troubles… rooted in the heart and psyche of this Nation.  When I come into the truth of the infinite number of scholars and persons of intellect that have published on the Life and the Thought and the Work of WEB… I am overwhelmed.  “…talking about freedom, there is no person who exemplifies the struggle for freedom in America and in the world philosophically and socially than WEB. Du Bois.” (Maurice Jackson, Georgetown University, African American Studies).

“Knowledge is Biblical. Education is not.” (Me) 

In 1903 WEB Du Bois released “The Soul’s of Black Folk”, of which James Weldon Johnson writes in his Autobiography: “a work which, I think, has had a greater effect upon and within the Negro race in America than any other single book published in this country since “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.  Manning Marable, Du Bois Historian in 2003 for the 100th Anniversary of the printing and re-printing (never out of print) “Souls” writes the Introduction of the ‘Centennial’ events: “On the evening of April 27, 2003, more than eight thousand people paid a minimum of $150 each to attend the Detroit chapter of the NAACP “Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner”. The purpose of the night’s historic celebration was to mark the one-hundredth anniversary of the publication of “Souls”.  In NYC at the City University of New York Graduate School, Danny Glover, Phylicia Rashad and Jeffery Wright were among the actors that staged “Souls” in a dramatic presentation written by playwright Thulani Davis.  Harvard’s highly esteemed African-American studies program, named in honor of Du Bois orchestrated a series of readings from the text at Boston’s Memorial Church.” Significant was Henry Lewis Gates, as Speaker: “No one did more to place the American Negro in the world as a full voiced speaking subject than did WEB Du Bois —political and literary.”

By 1905 Booker T. Washington from the deepest parts of America’s Southern slavery’s  institutionalized mentality, sought to create an umbrella organization to represent all the major African-American leaders of the day.  Du Bois, from the deepest parts of America’s Northern abolitionism mentality was invited.  Now in full stance against BTW’s “Accomodationist” view,  Du Bois refused to ally with Washington.  So in this same year Du Bois sent invitations to 59 Black men of aptitude, scholarship and stature to join him in the vision of what became known as the “Niagra Movement”.  ‘Twenty-Nine’ came to Canada and the following year the meeting was held at Storer College in Harper’s Ferry West Virginia.

W. E. B. Du Bois “Harpers Ferry” Speech, 1906

“The men of the Niagara Movement coming from the toil of the year’s hard work and pausing a moment from the earning of their daily bread turn toward the nation and again ask in the name of ten million the privilege of a hearing. In the past year the work of the Negro hater has flourished in the land. Step by step the defenders of the rights of American citizens have retreated. The work of stealing the black man’s ballot has progressed and the fifty and more representatives of stolen votes still sit in the nation’s capital. Discrimination in travel and public accommodation has so spread that some of our weaker brethren are actually afraid to thunder against color discrimination as such and are simply whispering for ordinary decencies.

Against this the Niagara Movement eternally protests. We will not be satisfied to take one jot or little less than our full manhood rights. We claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a freeborn American, political, civil and social; and until we get these rights we will never cease to protest and assail the ears of America. The battle we wage is not for ourselves alone but for all true Americans. It is a fight for ideals, lest this, our common fatherland, false to its founding, become in truth the land of the thief and the home of the Slave—a by-word and a hissing among the nations for its sounding pretensions and pitiful accomplishment.  

Never before in the modern age has a great and civilized folk threatened to adopt so cowardly a creed in the treatment of its fellow-citizens born and bred on its soil. Stripped of verbiage and subterfuge and in its naked nastiness the new American creed says: Fear to let black men even try to rise lest they become the equals of the white. And this is the land that professes to follow Jesus Christ. The blasphemy of such a course is only matched by its cowardice.”

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