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What The Reconstruction Teaches Us About the Rise of Trump

After the Reconstruction,  black bodies were strung from trees. Today, our brother and sisters are executed in the streets. And Philando Castille joins the long list of martyrs such as Medgar Evers, Emmett Till, and Viola Gregg Liuzzo that died in the unjust struggle to move our people forward.

We should have been prepared. I should have been prepared. After a moment in history that’s marked with us rising as a people, there is always a backlash.

We saw it in Birmingham. We saw it in Selma. And, now, we’ve seen it in Charleston. These cities are forever etched in our memories for the acts of terror levied on my people.

But As Brother Lamar Says …

If God got us, we gon’ be alright.

The Reconstruction: Hope & Hope Deferred

We always have. And we always will.

The end of President Obama’s Administration has many parallels to the end of the Civil War. 150 years ago, our ancestors were in a similar place. The precipice of hope. The idea of a post-racial society. And the promise of freedom and equality.

The Civil War ended. Reconstruction began. And for almost a decade it seemed, that these here United States were going to make good on its promise that all men are created equal and as such should have guaranteed rights.

In some ways, the Reconstruction was a boon for Blacks. We saw the passage of the

  • 13th Amendment: abolishing all forms of slavery
  • 14th Amendment: citizenship and the promise of equal protection under the law
  • 15th Amendment: the right to vote for Black men
  • the launch of HBCU’s in the South: Fisk, Hampton, Howard and Morehouse
  • and the election of Blacks to Congress

But Reconstruction was also rife with problems: the dawn of sharecropping (slavery’s next of kin), intimidation and violence against newly freed slaves, and constant legal grappling on whether or not my ancestors qualified for full-blown citizenship.

The Rise of the Redeemers & Trump

During Reconstruction, my ancestors took full advantage of the right to vote and did so en masse to support Republican officials. Republicans, in turn, overrode a veto by President Johnson to pass the aforementioned Constitutional Amendments.  (Sidenote: the Republicans of then are a far cry from the republicans of today.)

But then the Union Army left the South, and the strange fruit of mahogany-colored bodies hung from trees.

  • White southerners needed to “redeem” the losses of the Civil War
  • Lynching served as a visual reminder of who was in charge
  • Supremacy needed to be reinstated

With the help of Jim Crow and suppressing the Black vote, it only took a few decades to undo the gains of Reconstruction. Plessy v. Ferguson solidified the gains of the Redeemers and killed the promise of racial harmony. Now, we see similar rhetoric surrounding Trump, as he courts and captures the support of supremacist groups.

Trump

Creative Commons/Gage Skidmore

The New Reconstruction

President Obama

Whitehouse.gov

Like the end of the Civil War, President Obama rode in on a wave of hope.

In 2008, it felt like wrongs were being righted. It was the dawn of a new day. And it seemed like things would finally shake out in our favor. In some ways it has:

  • We saw changes in minimum sentencing for laws that have ripped our communities apart
  • We saw the investigation of a plundering police department and demands to change

And less than 50 years after it was permissible to exercise vigilante justice against Black people, we have a Black family in the White House.  History should have prepared us for the backlash.

Moses, Jim Crow and William J Seymour

During the dark days of post-Reconstruction and the height of Jim Crow, God raised up a man. The son of a former slave, William J Seymour, brought spiritual renewal and racial reconciliation to the church. And it sparked from the Azusa Street Revival of 1906.

“The revival drew people from diverse race, classes and backgrounds and grew into a worldwide multiracial movement.” Lucy M. Smith

Just like, God raised up Moses for the Egypt exit. He raised up Esther when the tide turned against the Hebrews in Persia.  He raised up Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Beecher Stowe when my ancestors needed the courage to run and our nation needed to wake up to the injustice of slavery.

I can’t help but believe, He’s raising up somebodies for such a time as this.

Our Duty As Believers

As believers, we have a duty and responsibility to alleviate the pain, suffering and chaos. He’s given us each resources that He wants to use to point people to Him. It is NOT enough to post inspirational quotes on Facebook. We must use our gifts and talents for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God.

There are dark days ahead. Regardless of who lands in the Oval Office.

But this is an opportunity for the church to rise and be about Our Father’s business. The Church is the vehicle by which Our Father speaks, acts, and move.  It is up to us to bring the healing, alleviate the chaos, demonstrate the unconditional love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Dark Times Are Ahead, But There Is Hope

All of us won’t make it to the Promised Land. Moses didn’t. Tubman didn’t. Neither did King. But each of them pushed us just a little bit closer to the promise. And it is our responsibility as residents of this planet, at this moment, to push our people a little closer.

What will you do to bring change?

  • Gift your talents of accounting to a prison re-entry program
  • Volunteer at the failing school in your neighborhood
  • Remind a young sister, that it’s great that folks watch her Whip/Nae Nae. But a mind is a terrible thing to waste. And she has gift and talents the world needs.

Or will you?

  • Shake your head and pray dutifully from the safety of your church pew
  • Cower, complain and flee to the suburbs
  • Or worst of all, succumb to apathy

Do Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly…

Just like during the Reconstruction, I believe, that God is raising up men and women of all shades and stripes that will stand up for what’s right…regardless of the cost.

And these people will live by the words of the Prophet Micah.

Micah 6:8

Maybe it’s you. If so, I hope that you will obey the call.

In Love & Peace,

Simone

Citations

Johnson, Sherita L. “The Politics of Disenfranchisement (Overview).” The American Mosaic: The African American Experience. ABC-CLIO, 2016. Web. 16 July 2016

Raffel, Jeffrey. “Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Overview).” The American Mosaic: The African American Experience. ABC-CLIO, 2016. Web. 16 July 2016

Smith, Lucy M. “Pentecostal Movement.” The American Mosaic: The African American Experience. ABC-CLIO, 2016. Web. 16 July 2016

Twagilimana, Aimable. “Reconstruction.” The American Mosaic: The African American Experience. ABC-CLIO, 2016. Web. 16 July 2016

9 Comments

  1. What a powerful post Simone and reminder of our true work as Christians!

  2. Patricia Reddick

    July 22, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Awesome Simone!! Such encouragement! I too believe that like Esther, God is raising up those “for such a time as this.” God bless you, your family, and the new home.!!

    • Simone

      July 22, 2016 at 7:29 pm

      Hey Patricia! I can’t tell you how happy it makes my heart to hear this post was encouragement. I agree with everything you said…100 percent. And thank you for the kind thoughts about my family and our housing adventures. We NEED them:). Love & Peace…Simone

  3. Wonderful article Simone! A timely article indeed. Stating that much has been said and will be said about this upcoming election is an understatement. However, I believe that there are many believers lifting it up in prayer and that regardless of who is elected “we” the body of Christ will be used to show forth the love and GRACE of God. A friend gave me a book detailing some of the many miracles of Azusa. William Seymour was a very interesting believer (the box on his head). But as long as he obeyed God – mighty works were demonstrated. Congrats on the new home and xoxoxo to your hubby.

    • Simone

      July 24, 2016 at 2:46 pm

      Hey Nan! I agree with you 100 percent…the elections has consumed so much of our headlines, timelines, and conversations. I kind of feel like, I’m loosing perspective on the ‘real work.’ And it makes my heart so happy to hear that the Father has been speaking the same to you…”We will be used to show forth the love and GRACE of God.” Yes. On so many levels.

      What’s the name of the book your friend gave you?! I’ve always known about the Azusa street miracles. But I just started researching it. William Seymour was very much an interesting person, I read that he was blind in one eye and barely survived small pox as a child. When you overcome things like that, I guess it makes you TOTALLY surrendered to whatever God is doing.

      Thanks for the kind words on our home! Lord, we just want to get to the place where we can ENJOY it:). He’s teaching us something on this path, though. We’re just trying to figure out what it is.

  4. Simone,
    The thorough, unapologetic, objective way you shared this information is absolutely excellent. Part of me is grieving the road our country seems to barreling down. When I am reminded of what you just shared so eloquently though… I know my trust can not be in the human in the White House, it must be in our God on the throne!

    He is Good, He is God, and He has put us here for just a time as this… similar to placing you in your home. Love you, and thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us!
    Linda Ables recently posted…“Nana Jo” 4/30/25 – 4/17/16My Profile

  5. Simone, your message was so profound, I read it twice! Thank you for sharing such eloquently written words of inspiration. You put so much on the table for us to take in and take heed. Thank you again!

    • Simone

      November 10, 2016 at 12:01 pm

      Hey Daphne! Thank you SO much for reading AND sharing. I wrestled with this idea for a looooong time, but the Lord just kept reminding me of the facts: ‘we’ve been here before.’ He didn’t fail us then, and He’s not going to start now. We just have to do the work to bring change and be in the center of His will. Love & Peace, Sis!

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