Sharon L. Suggs

What do you do when life is too  hard to bare? Mary Reynolds knew hardship and had the scars on her body to prove it. The old slaves taught her to seek “the power of God."

 “We never heared of no church, but us have prayin' in the cabins. We'd set on the floor and pray with our heads down low and sing low, but if the foreman heared he'd come and beat on the wall with the stock of his whip. He'd say, "I'll come in there and tear the hide off you back.  But some the old slaves tell us we got to pray to God that he don't think different of the blacks and the whites."

 During the slavery years, prayer was considered a male responsibility.  Mary Reynolds’s Father risked the safety of his family going to worship in the woods.

“Once my maw and paw taken me and Katherine after night to slip to ‘nother place to a prayin’-and-singing’.  A nigger man with a white beard told us a day am comin’ when niggers only be slaves of God . We prays for the end of trib’lation and the end of beating’s and for shoes that fit out feet.  We prayed that us niggers could have all we wanted to eat, and special for fresh meat.  Some the old ones say we have to bear all, ‘cause that all we can do.  Some say they was glad to [wished for] the time they dead, ‘cause they’d rather rot in the ground than have the beatin’s.  What I hated most was when they’d beat me and I didn’t know what they beat me for, and I hated them sctippin’ me naked as the day I born.”

                   What song did they sing?

            I’m going to stay on the battlefield
           I’m going to stay on the battlefield
          I’m going to stay on the battlefield
          Till I die

 “When we’s comin’ back from that prayin’, I thunk I heared the nigger dogs and somebody on horseback.  I say, “maw, it’s them nigger hounds, and they’ll eat us up.”  You could hear them old hounds and sluts a bayin’.  Maw listens and say, “Sho’ ‘nuf, them dogs am runnin’ and Gawd help us!” Then she and Paw talk, and they take us to a fence corner and stands us up ‘gainst the rails and say, “Don’t move, and if anyone comes near,  don’t breathe loud.”  They went to the woods, so the hounds chase them and not git us.  Me and Katherine stand there, holdin’ hands, shakin’ so we can hardly stand.

 We hears the hounds come nearer, but we don’t move.  They goes after Paw and Maw, but they circles round to the cabins and gits in.  Maw say its the power of Gawd.”

“I been blind and Mos’ helpless for five years.  I’m gettin’ mighty enfeeblin’, and I ain’t walked outside the door for long time back. I sets and ‘members the times in the world.  I ‘members now clear as yesterday things I forgot for a long time.  I ‘members bout the days of slavery.  And I don’t ‘lieve they ever gwine have slaves no more on this earth.  I think Gawd done took that burden offen his black chillun and I’m airmin’ to praise him for it to his face in the days of Glory what ain’t so far off.”


The Gospel Army Black History Group, P.O. Box 1172, Flint Michigan 48501
Copyright © 2006 The Gospel Army Black History Group. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01/24/07.