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Faith of A Mustard Seed

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

Born February 23, 1868  in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. His birth certificate given name is “William Edward Du Bois.”  Two years after his birth his father, Alfred Du Bois, left his mother, Mary Silvina Burghardt.  He became the first person in his extended family to attend high school, and did so at his mother’s insistence.

What sets Du Bois apart is his ability to gather the empirical data; analyze, interpret and document his findings. His very natural ‘inner vision’ gave rise to a ‘flow’ that enabled him to put in ‘writing his Findings’ in some very real spaces and places and people and cultures of his life and times. It is one thing to do ALL THESE THINGS, it is a ‘holy other’ to ‘put pen to paper’… for eternity. 

At the age of 15, by 1883 he was writing articles for the ‘New York Globe’ and ‘The Freeman’. By the time he enters Fisk University, (to graduate in 1888),  he soon emerges as Editor to the student  magazine – ‘The Herald’.  So, I myself, have driven into some very remote and what would be some very dangerous terrains of Tennessee, to Preach in Churches that could easily be a very fading memory… only to be amused by the very ‘real to me’ writing from 1899 “A Negro Schoolmaster in The South” published in the ‘Atlantic Monthly’; recalling the days when Fisk students traveled into the most unknown parts of the State to find schools, to teach black children as Summer jobs.

This deep dive into history into the life of Du Bois is mind boggling at the thousands of undergraduate students writing papers; graduate students writing their dissertations; scholars writing their books and professors establishing African American Studies Departments —all over the planet and in so many languages —all on Du Bois. He is credited for so many things in the ‘writing’ of America’s history: moving Sociology from theory to empirical knowledge; to organizing and writing the principles used by numerous organizations and institutions.  Yet he was followed by the FBI (check on that 500+ page document with all of it’s reactions… in public domain).  He was arrested, charged AND tried by this Justice System in it’s efforts to stop this influence that one of the greatest men who walked this planet, born on American soil, has given to this Nation, black or white!  When the 8,000 gathered in Detroit in 2003 to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of his delivering “Souls” for eternity, there is talk of all that took place ‘outside’ among those who were unable to have a seat at this table… wanting to, or not!

I enter this week at the point of his first University teaching post. 1894, Wilberforce University, Xenia, Ohio; where he arrived within a few months of returning from his Ph.D. work at the University of Berlin… yet unfinished, as was his work from Harvard. In the two years spent teaching at Wilberforce, he found love, married a student and completed his Doctoral Dissertation “The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade to the United States of America, 1638–1870”.  Received his Harvard Doctorate (1895) AND Published his Dissertation (1896), as his first book. It is now a standard in American education covering slavery.  It was the 1st volume of the Harvard Historical Studies series. All in the two years while teaching the Classics at Wilberforce University, Ohio.

Critical on today for me is uncovering the text of his 1940 Commencement Address:

“The Future of Wilberforce”.

“The scientific output of this institution in books and articles, in literature and art, in technical efficiency and economic organization falls so far below the standard of great schools that one searches almost in vain for tangible evidence of scientific work done by Wilberforce professors and graduates. There are some to be sure but they stand out in the midst of a great desert. You have not produced great scholars or scientist, great technicians nor great thinkers, and yet there is no earthly reason why you should not have done this.” “You have been content for a half century to do second-grade work and to make voluminous and frequent excuses therefore.”

Please don’t get it twisted.  Du Bois FOUND LOVE at Wilberforce, so just know that his expressions here of “Tough Love” is from his ‘head, his heart AND his pen’!  Given to The Wilberforce University Class of 1940… for eternity! AND for Tennessee State University, AND for the Interdenominational Theological Center, AND for every HBCU in a life and death struggle against principalities that have always sought it’s destruction, demise and ultimate death. This ‘tough love’ is Du Bois’ struggle to keep alive such a great salvation and the entire HBCU presence. 

My final thought is that absolutely no power nor principality can take a school from an Alumni who understands that it’s role, in Truth, is far, far greater than… mammon.

Join the Dialogue at my “Swellcast”.  At all times: https://SWELLCAST.com/therev. By email: talk2therev@icloud.com

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