Revised February 22, 2018
Black 2x2s in the United States
The American Civil War
Black Oppression Continues
State of Mississippi
Civil Rights Acts of 1964
Black Friends and Meetings
50 Years later
Photos of Black Workers
BLACK 2x2S IN THE UNITED STATES: In the 21st century, the culturally acceptable ethnic terms for dark skinned people in North America are "black" and "African American." Some prefer to be identified by their culture, such as a West Indian or Jamaican. With respect, I have chosen to use the term "black" in this book. This chapter does not include Latinos, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, Asians, South Americans or Europeans.
In the U.S., the "Southern States," are also known as "The South," and "Dixie." The "Deep South" refers to states in the southeastern corner of the U.S. The Southern States, along with parts of adjacent areas, are also called "The Bible Belt," an area where Christian church attendance across the denominations is generally higher than the nation's average.
Some background of the Southern States is necessary to understand its culture at the time the first black Workers came to America. From Independence Day in 1776, slavery was legal in all 13 Colonies. By the end of the 18th century, most of the Northern states had abolished slavery, and in 1808, Congress prohibited the importation of more slaves.
However, the Southern states continued as slave states. In the Deep South, the rapid expansion of the cotton industry, especially after the invention of the cotton gin, greatly increased the demand for slave labor. Slave trading continued, driven by labor demands from cotton plantations, and the total slave population eventually grew to four million.
The Government attempted to maintain a political balance regarding the number of states with and without slavery. However, the Southern state governments wanted to expand slavery to new U.S. Western territories being developed for settlement. They also wanted to annex Cuba to be used as a slave territory. Tensions grew and the United States became more and more polarized over the issue of slavery.
THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR: When Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 election on a platform of halting the expansion of slavery, the seven Southern states holding the greatest number of slaves seceded from the U.S. and formed the Confederate States of America. The War Between the States began April 12, 1861, when Southern troops fired on Ft. Sumter, a U.S. military post in Charleston, N. Carolina. Two days later, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to help quell the Southern insurrection. The four year war ended May 9, 1865.
Shortly after the War began, four additional slave states seceded. The eleven states were (in order of secession): South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee. At the beginning of the war, there were 34 states in the U.S., and at the end there were 36 states.
The South side of the Civil War became its own nation, called
"the Confederacy" for short, while the North remained the U.S., and was called "the Union."
For the slaves, the story of the Book of Exodus in the Bible held a special meaning. Exodus showed them that slavery was against God’s will and that slavery would end someday. Moreover, Exodus disproved the notion that blacks were inferior to whites, and told them they were a special people, chosen by God for deliverance like the Israelites of old. They had faith they would be delivered.
"The slaves are sensible of the oppression exercised by their masters; and they see these masters on the Lord’s Day worshiping in His Holy Sanctuary. They hear their masters professing Christianity; they see their masters preaching the Gospel; they hear these masters praying in their families, and they know that oppression and slavery are inconsistent with the Christian religion...I have heard the mistress ring the bell for family prayer...I have heard them [the slaves] declare...if I go in she will only just read, ‘Servants obey your masters’; but she will not read, ‘Go break every yoke, and let the oppressed go free’ " (By Daniel Alexander Payne).
From the very beginning of the Civil War, the slaves believed the war would bring them freedom. They viewed the arrival of Union troops as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, and regarded the Civil War as a Holy War and a sacred cause.
Four long years later, the Confederacy was defeated. An estimated 620,000 to 700,000 military men died. This war had the most American military casualties of any war in American history; more than WWI, WWII, Vietnam or Korea. Listen to: "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" by Joan Baez.
On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. In 1865, the 13th Amendment was passed and slavery was abolished in the U.S. The end of slavery validated the slaves’ belief in the promises of God. Four million slaves were freed, but it would take them more than 100 years to acquire equal rights.
Soon after the war was over, northern white missionaries and teachers sponsored by the Congregationalists, Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists arrived in the South to bring Christianity to the blacks. Within two years, there were eleven black churches in Charleston; five Methodist, two Presbyterian, two Episcopalian, one Congregational and one Baptist. The number of churches grew rapidly. The last U.S. Census for Religious Bodies in 1936 estimated there were 5.7 million church members in a black population of 12.8 million.
BLACK OPPRESSION CONTINUES: After the war, the segregation continued in the Southern states which attempted to carry it into every aspect of southern life, including almost every point of contact between blacks and whites. In some cases, segregation was required by law, while in others, it was a matter of culture and custom. In some areas, what the law did not prohibit, public opinion prevented. For much of U.S. history, blacks were treated as belonging at the bottom of society. The road to equality for Blacks was a long and painful process.
Segregation included separate restrooms, water fountains, hotels, motels, restaurants and lunch counters. Railways excluded blacks from first-class cars and provided separate waiting rooms; they were required to sit in the back of busses. Blacks had separate churches, cemeteries, schools and universities. They were separated at theaters, libraries, museums, hospitals, orphanages, prisons, parks, swimming pools, concerts, sports arenas and ticket lines. The Red Cross blood banks kept white and black blood separate. Courthouses used separate Bibles for oaths.
They were severely discriminated against in employment and housing. North Carolina and Florida insisted the textbooks used by black and white students be stored separately during the summer. South Carolina had a law for segregating factory Workers so the races would never work in the same room or use the same staircases, doorways and exits. Oklahoma insisted that telephone companies provide separate booths for whites and blacks. Although they received voting rights in 1870 with the 15th Amendment, many Southern states still denied blacks their right to vote.
The southern racial code decreed blacks were not to be treated as equals. Some examples: whites did not shake hands with blacks. Blacks went to the back door of a white person’s home–not the front door. Blacks rode in back seat of cars when whites were driving and whites rode in back seat when blacks were driving. Blacks were not to look directly into the eyes of whites and were to maintain a subservient attitude to whites at all times. Blacks were to formally address children as "Miss" and "Master," and adults as “Sir” and “Mam.”
The best known terrorist organization was the Klu Klux Klan, founded in Tennessee in 1866. Traditionally, its members wore white hoods and robes and rode on white horses draped with white sheets. Although anti-black racism was the Klan's chief interest, they also strongly opposed Catholics, Jews and other immigrants. In their goal to restore blacks to a subordinate position in society, they committed acts of violence on a wide scale.
Blacks were their favorite targets; especially any who had achieved any kind of economic or political success or were well educated–Those black, in their opinion, who "didn’t know their place." Sometimes the targets were black institutions, especially schools. They were active at election time, using violence and intimidation to keep blacks from voting. They attacked, killed, massacred and whipped blacks. They also terrorized whites who were sympathetic to or aided blacks. This secret society opposed to racial equality continues to show itself occasionally.
The most common form of racial violence in this era was lynching; i.e. the murder of persons suspected of violating laws or unofficial codes of behavior outside the judicial system, without due process and usually by mobs. Both blacks and whites were terrorized by the threat of lynching. The victims were often hung from trees and some bodies were mutilated. Blacks had been victimized by lynching since pre-Civil War days, but after the War, lynching murders increased sharply. Lynching was not made illegal until 1931.
When the first Black Workers came to Virginia, U.S. in 1947, this was the culture in the Southern States. At that time, the U.S. black population was 15 million or 10% (1950 census).
FIRST BLACK WORKERS IN AMERICA: By 1935, there were a few black Sister Workers preaching: Christine Gordon (1935-1989), Elizabeth Robinson (1935-1945) and Olive Steele (1941-1971). The first black Brother Worker arrived in Virginia, U.S. in the late 1940s from South Africa. He was Edward (Eddie) Barendilla, followed by Ernest Prinsloo, George Koetzee, David Jordan, Hugh Morris and later Harold Jegels.
THE BLACK CONVENTION: There has been only one annual Convention for blacks in North America. It was started sometime before 1950 by Eddie Barendilla. He vocally protested segregation in South Africa, and was sent to America where he found the situation little improved. Eddie formed a black Convention near the small town of Culpepper, Virginia, called Scrabble, "so the blacks would not have to suffer abuse from the whites." Later, the name of this Convention was changed to "Boston." It closed in the late 2000s. Sheila Martin wrote:
"When I came to Toronto in 1971 from South Africa, one of my first desires was to see the greatest country–the United States of America. The champion of democracy and freedom! I went to Scrabble, Virginia, in August for the 'coloured' Convention. To my horror, I discovered that Apartheid was practiced there! Earnest Prinsloo was there and Eddie Barendilla. Blacks and whites were both there, with the majority being blacks.A Southerner wrote: "I remember that Willie Kleffman, who had the oversight of North Carolina [about 1970]), would not let the black Friends attend the North Carolina Conventions. The reason he gave was so they would not aggravate the authorities."
"I learned that the black Workers were very badly treated by the Head Workers, namely Andrew Abernethy, and they were allowed to visit only two conventions: Scrabble (VA) and Quakertown (PA).* The stories they told about their being abused by the white Workers and Friends were usually wrapped up with the fact that they have to remain faithful and suffer this shame for Jesus’ sake." *also Altamont, NY.
"I went to Scrabble in about 1988. Sherdenia Thompson and Fern Duncan were there, and maybe a couple of old black retired sister Workers, and a handful of white visiting Workers from the U.S. Peter Best was the visiting black Worker. A couple of chartered buses brought some NYC Friends. The ratio of black to white was about 4 to 1–about 300 to start with and on up to about 450 on Sunday. I think most were from NYC and East USA and from the Islands. They all intermingled. The cooking was done by black Friends" (Memories of Sheila Martin; passed away in May 2005, of cancer).
BLACK WORKERS: For many years, all the black Workers in the Eastern states were included on the Virginia Workers list, even though they worked in other states, from Texas to New England. Varying from year to year, there were two pairs of black Brother Workers and four pairs of black Sister Workers, as well as Vernandez and Edith Harris, a married couple, who spent many years around Washington D.C.
Some of the better known Sister Workers were Sherdenia Thompson, Deborah (Debbie) Jones, Fern Duncan and Frances Brown. Sherdenia was from North Carolina, who was in the Work for more than 25 years (1967-2006, married in 2008). Her cousin, Deborah (Debbie) from the U.S., was in the work from 1969 until 2000, and passed away June 2, 2014, aged 65. Debbie spent some time in Africa, where she was responsible for the famous "witch doctor" professing. See Photo of Sherdenia and Deborah. Fern was from Eastern Canada, started in the work in 1953, labored mostly in the U.S. and on April 18, 2017, she retired to the Pecan Grove, Texas, Senior Residence Home. Frances was in the work from 1953 until 1961.
From 1970 to 1980, a few more black Sister Workers from the U.S. entered the work: Lillie Sweatt (1973-1985), Pearl Bailey (1977-1983) and Denver Hayes (1979-1982) who went in the Colorado Work with white companions. In the 1980s, Michelle Johnson went to Florida where she had white companions.
U.S. BLACK POPULATION IN 2010 numbered 38.9 million or 13% of the total population. Most blacks (55%) resided in the South, 18 % in the Midwest, 17 % in the Northeast and 10 % in the West. In view of these statistics, it may come as a surprise to some readers to learn that there are a very small number of black professing Friends and Workers in the U.S., and especially in the Southern states.
In 2017, there are only three black Workers laboring in the U.S. They are Steve Peirson (Washington), Mark King (NYC) and Maria Morrisroe (Minnesota). They are paired with white co-Workers. There are no black Worker pairs in the U.S. ministering to the black population. There are very few black professing Friends in the U.S., and most of them were professing before they emigrated from the Caribbean Islands. Observations by some Friends:
"I’ve noticed at the many Gospel Meetings and Conventions I attended in different states across the USA that there is a rather conspicuous absence of black members."
"When I was growing up and asked Workers about black people, I was told they had their own Workers and their own Meetings and their own Conventions. I believed them as a young child. However, I only knew of two in my whole lifetime."
"There seem to be 'token' minorities in the group, which are used as proof of freedom from racism."
Having missed his annual Convention, a Wisconsin man attended a Convention in North Carolina for the first time, and wrote, “Well the first thing I noticed was that it was absolutely 100% lily-white. Hmmm, were there no Negroes in the truth in North Carolina? Or were there other Conventions that they predominantly went to–like the Meetings up in NYC? Either thought was a bit worrisome. I have mentioned my experience once or twice to others here in lily-white central Wisconsin, who’ve been as ignorant as I."
“I first heard the gospel in 1962 [in Minnesota]…By the time Convention rolled around the second year, I was wondering why there were no black people in all the crowd. I asked Jim Jardine, "Where are all my black brothers and sisters?" He answered that there were black Churches in the South, as well as Conventions. He also said that they were kept separate because there were whites, who if they knew you were having anything to do with black people, you or your property would be in danger, as well of that of your black brother and sister." Jim Jardine's explanation was accurate at that time, and the situation has changed very slowly.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI: This chapter is written from the observations, experiences and knowledge of a Mississippi resident during the 1960s. In 1958, the Author’s family moved over 2,000 miles across the country from Northern California to Jackson, Mississippi; to "Dixie Land, the land of cotton," the Deep South state where her Mother was born. The movie "The Help" accurately portrayed Jackson and the South as it was when the Author lived there. And let's not forget, Tupelo, MS is where Elvis Presley, the King of Rock 'n Roll, was born!
Moving from California to Mississippi was a real cultural shock! The first odd thing I recall noticing was at a gas station. There were three restrooms, one each for men, women and colored and separate water fountains with signs: “For White Only” and “For Colored Only.” My younger brother and I quickly learned it was rude not to address all adults as "Sir" and "Mam." We also stopped calling the Workers "Aunt" and "Uncle" and began addressing them as Mr. and Miss with their first names.
While the Supreme Court had outlawed racial segregation in America’s public schools in 1954, the southern public schools did not integrate until they were forced to do so. Therefore, there were no blacks in the public school my brother and I attended in the South. It was not unusual to hear classmates and adults commonly refer to blacks in derogatory terms.
Gradually, I became aware of the vast differences between California and the South. There were also many differences in the 2x2 Church in East and West. Many things were allowed in California that were not allowed in Mississippi, such as radios, record players, Christmas trees,
and certain practices such girls' hair was not worn hanging down after the age of 13. A Brother Worker who had never even been to California enraged my Mother when he told her it was a good thing we moved back to Mississippi because he was not sure the Friends in California would be in Heaven. We began to learn there was a division between East and West in the 2x2 Church.
A new Convention for Mississippi was built on the property purchased by the Author’s parents in Jackson, Mississippi. It was the first Mississippi Convention, and before that the Mississippi Friends had attended the Alabama Convention. Our new home was situated in the country, ten miles out of the capitol city, Jackson, on 20 acres in the middle of a pecan grove. All our neighbors were black, so we had no playmates, a huge adjustment for children who had been raised in the city. Over the years, many of our black neighbors told about sitting on their porches listening to the beautiful singing during Convention. However, in the 32 years my parents owned the Mississippi Convention grounds, not a single black person ever attended our convention.
My family was well respected by the blacks living nearby. If one was waiting at the road by our mailbox when my father left for work each morning, he would allow them to ride to town in the cab of his truck (not the truck bed). He also hunted and fished and often gave the meat to the blacks. My father helped a black man obtain a job where he worked. Our black neighbors knew they could use our telephone for emergencies. Twice a black woman Mom hired to do her ironing brought two small daughters with her, and we played together. That was the only time I was able to play with any black neighbor children.
We used to wonder why the black Workers never came to preach in Mississippi. Workers frequently moved around from state to state–why did the black Workers not ever come to preach to the blacks in a state that was 45% black? Years later, I discovered there had been some black Sister Workers who preached in Alabama from 1964 to 1971, but none in Mississippi. In Tennessee, Fern and Sherdenia occasionally came to visit a professing black woman who was a maid for the Burkharts. She was the only black person at Knoxville, TN Convention.
A white ex-Worker admitted that there is no question that the Workers could have done much better on racial issues through the years. While in the Work, he found it very difficult to get black people to come and hear white preachers, even though they were staying in the homes of black Friends during their Mission. The exception was one time when they held meetings in a black school, and a large numbers of blacks attended.
CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT:
During the 1960s, a wave of civil rights activities swept through the Southern states. Demonstrations took place all over the Deep South. Without a radio or TV in our home, our only source for news was the day-old newspaper we received by mail. We lived in a cocoon, more or less, not realizing the seriousness of what was going on in the world outside. Some 20 years later, I watched a TV documentary in amazement of events that took place very near our home, about which we had been totally unaware.
In 1962, James Meredith won a court order permitting him to become the first black student at the University of Mississippi at Oxford (“Ole Miss”). Federal troops protected Meredith as he moved into the dormitory. A riot ensued, led by a white mob protesting the university’s integration in which two people were killed. Violence also occurred in many other places. In 1963, Medgar Evers, a black man who was the NAACP Field Secretary, was assassinated in front of his home in Jackson, MS. There were a number of black church burnings and bombings in the South, one in Birmingham, AL, in which four black girls were killed, and a large number of bombings in McComb, Mississippi.
Blacks staged sit-ins at public segregated facilities, freedom rides, boycotts, rallies and marches. A campaign called "Freedom Summer 1964" helped blacks gain their voting rights. According to the 1964 census, 45% of the MS population was black, and less than 5% were registered to vote, the lowest in the U.S.
Some peaceful activities were organized by Martin Luther King, Jr. (Jan. 15, 1929–April 4, 1968), an American Baptist minister, who was the leader of the Civil Rights Movement. He advanced civil rights without violence, based on his Christian beliefs. In 1963, he delivered his famous speech at the March on Washington: “I have a dream” (of a prejudice-free nation). In 1964, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Award. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. Riots followed his death in many U.S. cities. Read Timeline of Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi.
In 1960, when President John F. Kennedy was elected, 57% of blacks lived below poverty level; by the end of the 1960s, 33% did so. By 1969, blacks still earned well under two-thirds of white income. It was a long time before their problems with poverty, unemployment and poor housing improved.
President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. The school principal announced the President had been shot and students heard the news over the radio through the intercom in our classrooms. Some of my classmates rejoiced at the news.
CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964: Even though President Kennedy had been assassinated, his Civil Rights Act bill passed on July 2, 1964. The Act outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, required equal access to public places and employment, and enforced desegregation of schools and the right to vote. However, the road for blacks to use the equality that was theirs by law was far from smooth.
At that time, black teachers taught only in black public schools, and were usually paid about a half or a third of the annual salaries paid to white teachers. The educational materials in black schools were often substandard. In 1964, Mississippi’s educational expenditures per pupil were $81.64 for white students and only $21.77 for black students, a ratio of 4 to 1. Black colleges preserved racial segregation in higher education.
In 1970, as public schools prepared to integrate, geographical lines were drawn, and school assignments were made according to where one lived. Had we still been attending school, my brother and I would have been among the eight white students assigned to attend an all black school. The result was the flight of many white students to private white only schools, which were suddenly appeared around the state.
In 1968, for the first time in her life, the Author saw some black professing Friends. There were about ten blacks who attended the large Texas Convention at Round Rock. In 1988, when the Author moved to Oklahoma City, there was one professing black lady at Union Meeting, the late Rosie Cook, possibly the only black Friend in the state.
In Mississippi, to the Author's knowledge, only one black resident has ever professed there. She listened to Gospel Meetings from the kitchen of her professing employers, and professed in the 1960s. During Fellowship Meetings, she sat in the kitchen and did not attend convention. In Alabama, a black lady professed who worked for the owners of the Fosters Convention. During the Conv. Meetings, she listened from the dining tent. In 1988, a Worker wrote "Of all the blacks here in Alabama-Mississippi, we have only three professing–all in Alabama; not much interest with those people for the gospel."
Integration in all areas did not take place immediately and certainly not without resistance. In this time period, one had to be careful in mixing with blacks. The Ku Klux Klan was still active in the 1960s. A warning cross was burned in the yard of one of our neighbors who had kindly aided the blacks in some way. A wary, uneasy peace between the races continued for many years, and those who were so inclined, went quietly about mixing with the other race.
The Southern whites did not just lay aside their prejudices with the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. For example, in the early 1980s, about 15-20 years after the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed, a black professing lady was visiting her son in Jackson, Mississippi, when it was time to attend the Alabama Convention. A local white professing lady invited the black lady to go with her to the Convention, and the two of them went. The white lady returned upset that the black lady was not well received there.
Another example: The Navy sent a professing civilian man to Mississippi, who became acquainted with a nice young black man. He wanted to invite the man to Gospel meetings, and the local senior Sister Worker was delighted. When he mentioned that the man was black, the Sister Worker's expression changed instantly to one of disapproval, and the young black man was not invited.
BLACK FRIENDS AND MEETINGS: There are or have been a few all black Meetings in the South, but never very many. At one time in North Carolina, there was at least one, and possibly a few more, all black Meetings. No all black Meetings have been reported in other Southern states. In Lorain, Ohio, there was an all black Meeting in the Beasley home, and their son, Edward, is in the work laboring in Central America (2015).
In 1990, there were nine black Meetings in the New York City area, and about 150-200 blacks attended Gospel Meetings. Most NYC Friends were converted in the Islands: (Barbados, Jamaica, etc.) and immigrated to NYC. In time, they were able to sponsor relatives who moved there also, and the number of Friends increased accordingly.
NEW YORK: "The only all black Meetings I've ever heard of were in New York City. There were enough blacks in NYC/NJ to compose a Special Meeting. We used to go there when I was young quite often, and there were a lot of blacks, but a lot of whites too. Then I guess there was a 'white flight' of friends out of the city, and only blacks were left, so Brooklyn turned into a black Special Meeting, and for the last 20 years (maybe more) it has been predominantly black, with a few whites attending, and they seem to intermingle well."
The Author’s brother said: "I thought about going to Meeting in New York City a couple of times while traveling in the 1980s. I asked about Meetings and was told, 'There is only one Meeting there.' It was at the home of some white folks in Long Island City, part of Queens. Apparently, the other nine or so black Meetings didn’t count!"
An ex-Worker said: "For many years I had been told there were only two Meetings in all of New York City. Imagine my surprise to find there were many more Meetings there in the 'big apple.' Turns out the rest were black Meetings. The black Friends attended the Gospel Meetings of two black Sister Workers in the city who have 'apartheid' services!! I was told I would not be welcome to attend them, nor to visit in their homes. Although I was discouraged greatly from doing so, I finally made arrangements to meet with the black Sister Workers and discovered that segregation was not their choice."
"For awhile in NYC, there were very few blacks, and they increased through immigration from the Caribbean Islands. Many attended the Convention at Scrabble/Boston, Virginia; also Quakertown, PA and Altamont NY. Most NYC blacks are immigrants from the Caribbean Islands, and very few originally came in contact with the Workers in America. In NYC/Brooklyn, there are more professing blacks than whites. Several Meetings are mostly blacks. Some Meetings are in black homes with the man of the house as the Elder. There were about 30 blacks, including children in New Jersey."
FLORIDA: "In Florida, there are several black Friends, most having roots in the Caribbean Islands. The black Friends attend the Florida Conventions with the whites. There was a black Sister Worker, Michelle Johnson, in the Work for about three years."
MARYLAND: “One fall in the late 1960s, while in the Work in Baltimore, MD, I visited a Worker who expressed his anguish at being forbidden by his companion, and then Overseer of his region, to invite anyone even suspected to be of black genealogy to their Gospel Meetings.”
CALIFORNIA: "In all of Los Angeles, with its vast black population, I only knew of two black professing families." NOTE: Several dark skinned Friends emigrated from Sri Lanka to the Los Angeles Area around the 1970s.
CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES, 1982: "My Sunday morning Meeting was quite a mixture. It was held at the house of a little black man from South Africa (now deceased) who had a Jamaican wife (David & Hermine* Jordan). There were two older black couples from Barbados, a girl from China, a Dutch man and his Indonesian wife, a lady from Korea, a whole family from El Salvador, an American black girl from NYC, a middle-aged couple with a mansion in Beverly Hills, and me. I thought that was pretty neat, and that was how things should be." (G. R. Berry) *Hermine (Darlington) Jordan, aged 106 died on March 15, 2013, in Mt. Dora, Florida. She was born in Jamaica, West Indies, on Dec. 8, 1906, and was possibly the longest living black Friend in the world.
ILLINOIS: In the Chicago metro area, there was a racially mixed meeting including about 18 Jamaican Friends. One couple in the meeting was a Jamaican man married a white German wife (Vincent & Rose Marie King) who had a daughter, Patricia King, and a son, Mark King, who both went into the work in Illinois in 1986. Mark has labored in NY for at least 20 years and has been the senior Worker in NYC for several years (2017).
OVER 50 YEARS LATER: Mark King, of mixed race, has for several years been the Senior Worker in New York City, where the friends are mostly black (2017). Some New York City Meetings are now integrated; however, not every NYC Meeting has white Friends because there are not enough to go around. The Meeting distribution is now geographical, not racial. When Meeting changes were made in Mid-Atlantic States, a special attempt was made so that a Meeting would not be all black or white.
The all black Meetings in North Carolina were phased out, as Friends passed away or moved. The Scrabble/Boston, VA, Convention was integrated, and eventually closed down. There is no longer a problem for blacks and whites to assemble together in meetings of any kind in the Southern States. Sometime in the 1990s, Fern, Deborah, and Sherdenia were all transferred to the New York list, which basically was the end of the practice of keeping the black Sister Workers only with black companions and working mostly among the blacks.
It has been a difficult journey to the point where more progressive enlightened attitudes, thoughts and actions are beginning to make inroads into the old radical racism. The blacks have come up a long ways in status and respect. Currently, in the U.S. there are many black university students and graduates, mayors, judges, Congress men and women, several black Miss Americas, doctors, professors and, of course, a two-term black president.
There is a very noticeable absence of black Friends and Workers in the U.S. In the last U.S. census in 2010, the black population was 38.9 million or 13% of the total population, and most blacks (55%) resided in the South. Racial diversification in the 2x2 church ministers and members is a fraction of that in other Christian churches. The vast black harvest field in the Deep South is largely untapped.
NOTE: This chapter represents the Author's experience, observations and knowledge, and does not claim the practices and attitudes discussed in this chapter were the situation nationwide. Telling the Truth has a hard copy of the quotes, documents, books, newspaper articles, references, etc. used in this chapter.
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