Defining Moments: African American Commemoration and Political Culture in the South, 1863-1913

By Kathleen Ann Clark | Go to book overview
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chapter five
Bosoms Filled with Hope
COLLECTIVE REPRESENTATION IN
THE AGE OF JIM CROW

WE KNOW FULL WELL OF ALL THE GLOOMY PAST;
OF ALL THE DARKNESS IN WHICH NOW WE GROPE;
OF ALL THE NIGHT THAT SEEMS WILL NEVER PASS;
AND STILL WE MEET WITH BOSOMS FILLED WITH HOPE.
Daniel Webster Davis,
“The Negro Meets to Pray” (1902)

The diary of African Methodist Episcopal minister Winfield Henry Mixon reveals his daily battle against pessimism and despair as the shadow of Jim Crow loomed over the landscape of Alabama, where he lived and worked. In January of 1895, while he prepared an address for an upcoming celebration of the life of Richard Allen, Mixon reassured himself that God would have the final word in the ongoing struggle against racism: “God will give the results or the conclusion of the whole matter ere long. Prayand do the best you can. 'God is not like man, he does not flatter, he kills both white, black and mulattoes.' Eh! The country now.”1 One week later, in a flash of utter fury, Mixon revealed both the depth of his hatred for white racists and the source of his determination to be “up and at it”: “Every now and then the wicked, ill-gotten, squint-eyed, blood suckers hang… [those who] lynch burn flay their superiors The ebony, pure, and most God-like in the heart Negro. My pen shall never stand, my voice shall never stop, my tongue shall never cease.”2

In the following months and years, Mixon looked for ways to sustain

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