Matthew 5, The Beatitudes
Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came and he began to teach them saying:
When we have control of our environment and future, we tend to be satisfied and complacent. But when we are stressed and lack control of our situation we are in need of help from a higher power. The "poor in sprit," the "sorrowing" and the "lowly" that seek the power of God, not only find relief but they also find the peace of God's grace.
“I was a religious child, in those days, and I’m religious now, too, but colored folks just naturally had more religion back there, before the Civil War.”
Rachel Reed, Bull Whip Days the Slaves Remember
3*["How Blest Are The Poor In Spirit: The Reign Of God Is Theirs.]
Slavery was particularly cruel in the Delta cotton fields where it was big business. (Before the Mayflower p51.) These young men were being taken to the Delta to be sold. When there was no hope, death could quickly follow as pointed out in this narrative:
“As they walked together, they talked about their future, and they all agreed that death would be preferable to the living death of the cotton fields. And they decided that the first time they had to ferry across a river with the nigger trader, they would walk onto the Ferryboat and keep right on walking till they had walked off the other end. At the end of Dr. Sneed's farm was a ferry to carry people over to the Macabee farm on the other side, and when the nigger trader drove those slaves onto the ferry, that is exactly what they did: they all walked 'off into the deep of the river at the other end. If there was any among them who was lukewarm he was shoved in by the ones behind him.”
Rachel Cruze Strawberry Plains, Knox County, Tennessee, Bull Whip Days, pg213
4.*[Blest Too Are The Sorrowing; They Shall Be Consoled.]
For the slave, being bought and sold was very painful. All they had was the love that was between them and that could be taken at any minute. The most painful experience of black American History was the buying and selling of slaves.
I had a brother, Jim, who wuz sold ter dress young Missus fer her weddin'. De tree am still standin' whar I set under an' watched em sell Jim. I sat dar an' I cry an' cry, specially when dey puts de chains on him an' carries him off. An' I ain't neber felt so lonesome in my whole life. I ain't never hyar from Jim since, an' I wonder now, sometimes, iffen he's still livin'.
Ben Johnson, Bullwhip Days, The Slaves Remember, J. Mellon, p292
5* [Blest Are The Lowly; They Shall Inherit The Land.]
Slaves were not the only people held with low regard. Poor Whites were often treated poorly. My wife Nancy White had an aunt named Laura Clark from Washington County Kentucky. She lived to be 100 years old and I met her for the first time a month before her 100th birthday. I enjoy listening to people like her and I was particularly interested in finding out what life was like for her in the old days. She said that it was one incident that puzzled her through out her life. Back in the old days black people lived separately from the white people in rural Kentucky but people were not separated economically. The well off and poor Whites lived together. Once there was a young poor white family with a very sick baby. She said “you know those poor white folks walked right pass all those other white people all the way out to my house to ask for help. I don’t understand why they did that after all these years. She said she did the best she could to help them. The Rachel Cruze narrative adds a little light to Aunt Laura’s experience.
Nancy White and her Aunt Laura, Authors Collection
Rachel Cruze was the daughter of a slave and a slave owner. Miss Nancy was her grand mother and she owned many slaves. Miss Nancy loved Rachel like a grand daughter but she was half black and would not inherit any of Miss Nancy’s property. Rachel’s observations appear to support those of my wife’s aunt.
“Do you know, the pore white folks of the South mostly had a harder time than the colored folks, under slavery, because the other white folks did not want them around. Many pore white folks would have starved if it had not been for slaves who stole food from their masters to feed the white folks...“ Fanny Oldsby was one of the pore whites who lived near Mis' Nancy, and Mis' Nancy would sometimes give her sewing to do, but she had to take it home to do it. Mis' Nancy wouldn't have her around the place. I used to get pretty lonesome sometimes because there wasn't a child of my age to play with. Fanny Oldsby had a little girl who came with her sometimes, but do you think Mis' Nancy would let me play with her? No, ma'am. I'd no more than sit down close to the little girl than I'd hear, "Rachel, you come here this minute." And, when I would go to her, Mis' Nancy would say, "Don't you sit near her. Why, she'll bite you and she'll get your head full of lice." The pore child would look at me and I'd look at her, but I didn't want her to bite me, so I didn't get close to her.”
Rachel Cruze, Bull Whip Days, p209
“The white folks rode to church and the darkies walked, as many of the poor white folks did. We looked upon the poor white folks as our equals. They mixed with us and helped us to envy our masters. They looked upon our master as we did.”
The Reverend Squire Dowd, Bull Whip Days, p136
6* [Blest Are They Who Hunger And Thirst For Holiness; 'B They Shall Have Their Fill.]
“Marster neber 'low he slaves to go to chu'ch. Dey hab big holes out in de fiel's dey git down in and pray. Dey done dat way 'cause de white folks didn' want 'em to pray. Dey uster pray for freedom.
ELLEN BUTLER, Bullwhip Days, The Slaves Remember, J. Mellon, page 190
"We used to steal off to de woods and have church, like de spirit moved us--sing and pray to our own liking and soul satisfaction and we sure did have good meetings, honey-baptize in de river, like God said. We had dem spirit-filled meetings at night on de bank of de river, and God met us dere. We was quiet 'nuf so de white folks didn't know we was dere, and what a glorious time We did have in de Lord."
SUSAN RHODES, BULLWHIP DAYS, p194
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