“. . . As Stevens pointed out, the reasoning that says that no states seceded because the Constitution won’t allow it would also say that no man can ever commit murder because the law forbids it. “Black Codes” were put in place in most Southern states that, through various means, some overt and some insidious (anti-vagrancy statutes were a particular favorite), limited the rights of blacks to work and to relocate. The legislative reconquest was backed by violence: the Ku Klux Klan, formed as a terrorist organization by ex-Confederate officers, began murdering and maiming assertive black citizens. In 1877, after a mere dozen years in which black suffrage and racial equality were at least grudgingly accepted national principles, the federal government pulled its last troops from the South and, in what could be called the Great Betrayal, an order of racial subjugation was restored. . .”
Tomorrow at Mother Emmanuel Church, Charleston SC the life of Mother Susie Jackson, one of the 9 murdered in that church will be celebrated. She particularly of all the victims have been in my thoughts.
Can you imagine what she has seen, how much she knew from 87 years of living Black in Amrerikka? We all know this woman. She arrived at this time, in Faith and believing that there is a Balm in Gilead. In the last moments of her life, I imagine her whispering, “Dear Jesus, oh my God”. A prayer she might have uttered many times in her life. I think about her, fearing for her nephew, Tywanza Sanders,26 sitting at that same table. He, in his youth and Faith, brave enough to plead for their lives to an unmoved monster.
I want to remember her as I imagine her preparing for Bible Study. Picking up around the house, having an early dinner and clearing and cleaning the dishes. Maybe even visiting that day with a friend. Ensuring that she studied “the word” of the week, marking a small tablet with her impressions and questions for the evening session. Making sure to put some mint candy in her purse and a handkerchief or tissue. I know she was not thinking too much about that “crazy girl trying to be Black”. I imagine she might have been singing or humming some old hymn, giving her lift to her step as she advanced to the time. Maybe “A closer walk” or ” faith of our fathers”. Getting a ride or even walking to the church, participating in a bit of chatter once seated. We all know who she was beyond the oldest of the victims. One of the Mothers of the church, having survived and found sanctuary in her Black life.
Tomorrow there will be no President with a eulogy for her. Her one spiritual leader and confidante is gone as well. So who will witness her life, her deepest victory over a moment’s fractured faltering Faith, her fear of Black night terror and the wonderment of her journey ? We will Mother Susie, we will. All respect for your life of prayer and purpose. We who understand and rejoice for you. You who sought in this time in your life, one thing – A Closer Walk with Thee. Your life’s journey and what you chose as your comfort lifted you in the church you loved and served. Rest well Mother Ancestor.
I imagine her smile, listening to something like this.