Archive for the ‘Mary McLeod Bethune’ Tag

Feast of Lucy Craft Laney (April 15)   1 comment

Above:  Kindergarten, Haines Normal and Industrial Institute, Augusta, Georgia, 1899

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-132449 (b&w film copy neg.)

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LUCY CRAFT LANEY (APRIL 13, 1854-OCTOBER 24, 1933)

African-American Presbyterian Educator and Civil Rights Activist

Lucy Craft Laney comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Our saint was a daughter of former slaves.  David Laney, a carpenter, was a Presbyterian minister.  In 1838, slaves who had been members of First Presbyterian Church, Macon, Georgia, became part of the African chapel, the origin of Washington Avenue Presbyterian Church.  Laney was a “leader,” functioning as a minister, of this congregation.  His ordination in 1866 made his ministerial status official.  He, having purchased his freedom in the 1830s, married Louisa, whose freedom he also purchased.  The couple had ten children.  Number seven was Lucy Craft Laney, born in Macon on April 13, 1854.

Presbyterian denominational history can be very confusing, even for those initiated into the mysteries of mergers and schisms.  I, having studied these matters closely, write authoritatively about them.  In the case of Lucy Craft Laney, I conclude that she belonged to the following denominations, in order:

  1. the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (Old School), until December 1861; then
  2. the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America (December 1861-December 1865), which changed its name to the Presbyterian Church in the United States in December 1865.

Our saint’s family taught her the value of education.  She learned to read and write by the age of four years.  When she was twelve years old, Laney translated difficult passages of Julius Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars from Latin.  Her formal education came courtesy of the American Missionary Association, which founded schools for African Americans in the former Confederacy.  She attended Lewis High School, Macon, from 1865 to 1869.  After graduating, she matriculated at Atlanta University.  Ironically, she could not formally study the classics there because of her gender; Laney objected.  Our saint, who graduated in 1873, had her credentials as a teacher.

Laney spent a decade teaching in other people’s schools.  She taught in Macon, Savannah, Milledgeville, and Augusta.  Then, in 1883, she founded what became Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in Augusta.  The first “campus” was the basement of Christ Presbyterian Church, Augusta.  This African-American congregation, formed in October 1882, had separated from First Presbyterian Church, Augusta.

Laney served as principal from 1883 to 1933.  The school became Haines Normal and Industrial Institute because one Francine Haines donated $10,000 ($282,862.94, adjusted for inflation, as of the day I am typing this sentence) in 1886.  The State of Georgia chartered the school that year.  The Haines Institute, which moved to its new campus on Gwinnett Street (now Laney-Walker Boulevard) grew to 34 teachers and 900 students by 1912.  The school offered sewing classes, the first African-American kindergarten in Augusta, the first African-American nursing school in Augusta, orchestral concerts and other cultural events, and a college preparatory program.  Laney taught Latin.  Many graduates matriculated at respected Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).  Novelist Frank Yerby (1916-1991), a native of Augusta, was an alumnus of the Haines Institute; he attended the school toward the end of Laney’s life.  Another famous person connected to the Haines Institute was Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955), who taught there for a year then moved on to make her mark elsewhere.

Laney was active in the struggle for civil rights.  She, a friend of luminaries such as W. E. B. DuBois (1868-1963), Langston Hughes (1902-1967), and Madam C. J. Walker/Sarah Breedlove (1867-1919), was active in the National Association of Colored Women and the Interracial Commission.  She also helped to organize the Augusta Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.) in 1918.  Furthermore, Laney helped to integrate the work of the Augusta branches of the Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.) and the Young Women’s Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.).

Laney died in Augusta on October 24, 1933.  “Miss Lucy” was 79 years old.

Haines Normal and Industrial Institute closed in 1949.  Laney High School replaced it.  Sadly, not one of the buildings of the Haines Institute has survived the ravages of time and political decisions.

Gwinnett Street, which borders the campus of Christ Presbyterian Church and the site of the former Haines Institute, has become Laney-Walker Boulevard.  Dr. Charles T. Walker was one of the founders of Atlanta University.

In 1974, Governor Jimmy Carter unveiled the first three portraits of African Americans in the state capitol.  The three honorees were Bishop Henry McNeal Turner (1834-1915); Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968), and Lucy Craft Laney.

The Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History and Conference Center, Augusta, opened in 1991.

Fortunately, the indirect and intergenerational influence of Lucy Craft Laney has continued to grow.

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Everlasting God, you teach us that your ways frequently conflict with many of our societal norms.

We thank you for the life and legacy of your servant, Lucy Craft Laney.

May we, inspired by her example, resist social injustice and

testify with our lives to the image of God present in all people.

May we, empowered by the Holy Spirit, transform our societies,

changing our societal norms so that they will more closely resemble your ways,

for your glory and the benefit of all people.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Proverbs 2:1-5

Psalm 25:1-10

Galatians 3:23-29

Matthew 5:13-16

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 28, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BINNEY, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND “ARCHBISHOP OF NONCONFORMITY”

THE FEAST OF ANNA JULIA HAYWOOD COOPER AND ELIZABETH EVELYN WRIGHT, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATORS

THE FEAST OF FRED ROGERS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HOST OF MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BADGER, SR., U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST AND PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER; FIRST MISSIONARY TO THE WESTERN RESERVE

THE FEAST OF PEDRO ARRUPE, ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND MARGINALIZED, AND SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS

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Feast of Mary McLeod Bethune (May 18)   2 comments

Above:  Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Photographer = Carol M. Highsmith

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-highsm-12536

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MARY JANE MCLEOD BETHUNE (JULY 10, 1875-MAY 18, 1955)

African-American Educator and Social Activist

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I am my mother’s daughter, and the drums of Africa still beat in my heart.  They will not let me rest while there is a single Negro boy or girl without a chance to prove his worth.

–Mary McLeod Bethune

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Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune left the world better than she found it.

Mary Jane McLeod was the fifteenth of seventeen children in her family.  She, born near Mayesville, South Carolina, on July 10, 1875, was a child of former slaves.  As such our saint learned the value of freedom at an early age.  Her grandmother Sophia, also a former slave, reinforced those lessons.  Young Mary Jane had a great appetite for knowledge in a place and at a time in which many unapologetically racist whites openly questioned the necessity and value of literacy and education for African Americans.

Mission schools of the former “Northern” (actually national) Presbyterian Church in the United States of America shaped our saint.  From the ages of 12 to 18 years she studied at Scotia Seminary for girls, Concord, North Carolina.  The racially integrated faculty impressed McLeod, who took to mathematics, science, Latin, and English with great eagerness.  After graduating from Scotia Seminary she studied at the Mission Training School of the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois, from which she also graduated.  Then our saint applied to serve as a missionary to Africa, but the Presbyterian Board of Missions rejected her request, citing her youth.

McLeod’s vocation was actually to help African Americans.  She became a teacher at the Haines Institute, Augusta, Georgia, where Lucy Craft Laney was the principal.  In 1898 she married fellow teacher Albertus Bethune.  The couple moved to Savannah, Georgia, where they remained for a few years.  Our saint taught at mission schools–the Kendall Institute, Sumter, South Carolina; and the Palatka Mission School, Palatka, Florida–for a year.  Then, in 1904, she founded the Daytona Literary and Training School for Girls with five students and $1.50 ($41.70 in 2016 currency).  Bethune raised funds from the community and from corporate donors, however.  Donors included James Gamble (of Proctor and Gamble) and John D. Rockefeller, Sr.  Before 1919 the school had become the Daytona Educational and Industrial Institute.  In 1919 it changed its name to the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute.  In 1923-1925 the school merged with the Cookman Institute, Jacksonville, Florida.  The Cookman Institute, founded in 1872 and affiliated with the old “Northern” (actually national) Methodist Episcopal Church, trained African-American teachers and ministers.  The merged institution was Daytona-Cookman Collegiate Institution, which changed its name to Bethune-Cookman College in 1931.  Our saint served as the President until 1942 and again in 1946-1947.  She also transferred her membership from the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America to the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Bethune was a civil rights pioneer.  She resisted the Ku Klux Klan and voted despite threats of violence.  Our saint also advocated for anti-lynching laws and for the termination of poll taxes.  She, who knew the stings of racial segregation well, acted to change her society.  This advocacy brought her to the attention of President Herbert Hoover, who invited her to attend a general session of the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection in 1930.

Eleanor Roosevelt was an especially important ally and friend of Bethune.  Through the First Lady our saint gained access to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whom she lobbied on behalf of her people.  Bethune held government positions during the Roosevelt Administration.  She was the Director of Negro Administration from 1936 to 1944.  Our saint also served as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of War and the Assistant Director of the Woman’s Army Corps.  In that capacity she organized the first woman’s officer candidate school.  Our saint also attended the founding conference of the United Nations.

As if Bethune were not busy enough, she did much more.  In 1935 she founded the National Council of Negro Women, an organization she led until 1939.  Our saint, also active in the National Urban League, the United Negro College Fund, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.), served as the President of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History from 1936 to 1951.

Bethune, aged 79 years, rested from her labors on May 18, 1955.

Bethune-Cookman College became Bethune-Cookman University in 2007.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the trouble,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Howard Thurman (April 10)   1 comment

Above:  Howard Thurman

Image in the Public Domain

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HOWARD WASHINGTON THURMAN (NOVEMBER 18, 1899-APRIL 10, 1981)

U.S. Baptist Minister, Mystic, and Theologian

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The religion of Jesus makes the love-ethic central.

–Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited (1949; 1996 reprint, page 89)

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Howard Thurman was an important force for social justice in the United States.  Although he was not on the front lines of the civil rights movement, he did produce a theology of reaching beyond fear and hatred that inspired many who were on the front lines.

Thurman, born on November 18, 1899, at Daytona, Florida, was a son of the church.  His father was Solomon Thurman (a railroad worker) and his mother was Alice Ambrose Thurman (a domestic worker).  Our saint learned much about the Bible from his maternal grandmother, a former slave.  Thurman, educated at Florida Baptist Academy, Jacksonville, Florida (1915-1919), then at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia (1919-1923), became a Baptist minister in 1925.  His first church as pastor was Zion Baptist Church, Oberlin, Ohio.  The following year our saint graduated from Rochester Theological Seminary.  Then Thurman continued his education at Oberlin School of Theology and Haverford College.  At the latter institution he learned from Rufus Jones (1863-1948), a prominent Quaker philosopher.  In 1929 Thurman became both a professor of religion and the director of religious life at both Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, Atlanta.  While in Atlanta he married Sue Bailey, in 1932.

From 1932 to 1943 Thurman served on the faculty of Howard University, D.C.  He, President Mordecai Johnson, and Dr. Benjamin Mays (the Dean of the School of Religion), provided leadership at that institution and beyond.  Thurman’s titles were Chairman of the Committee on Religious Life and Professor of Christian Theology.  Our saint worked behind the scenes with many of the early leaders of the civil rights movement.  These great men and women included W. E. B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, and Mary McLeod Bethune.  During a tour of India in 1935 and 1936 Thurman met Mohandas Gandhi and became convinced of the wisdom of applying nonviolence to the struggle for civil rights in the United States.  Our saint also expanded his understanding of religious freedom with regard to human freedom and the struggle for it.

Thurman left Howard University in 1943 to co-found the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, San Francisco, California, an early example of a multicultural congregation in the United States.  His co-pastor was Alfred G. Fisk, who was white.   While in San Francisco, Thurman wrote Jesus and the Disinherited (1949), in which he laid the theological foundation for the use of nonviolence in the civil rights movement and portrayed Jesus as one who helped disinherited people as they dealt with oppression.  Black Liberation Theology, which James Cone went on to develop, grew out of this volume, a copy of which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., carried with him.

Our saint left San Francisco in 1953, when he accepted the job as Dean of the Marsh Chapel and Professor of Spiritual Disciplines and Resources at Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.  That year Life magazine described Thurman as one of the twelve greatest preachers of the twentieth century.  He applied that rhetorical skill at the Marsh Chapel until 1965, when he retired.

For the rest of his life our saint directed the Howard Thurman Educational Trust.

Thurman died at San Francisco on April 10, 1981.  He was 81 years old.

His message of nonviolent resistance to oppression is timeless, however.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 8, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY MELCHIOR MUHLENBERG, PATRIARCH OF AMERICAN LUTHERANISM; HIS GREAT-GRANDSON, WILLIAM AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGICAL PIONEER; AND HIS COLLEAGUE, ANNE AYRES, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERHOOD OF THE HOLY COMMUNION

THE FEAST OF JOHANN CRUGER, GERMAN LUTHERAN ORGANIST, COMPOSER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIE BILLIART, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME

THE FEAST OF RANDALL DAVIDSON, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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