It is a history that is hard to read. Oppression. (Exodus 1:11) Forced Labor. (Exodus 1:11) Bitter lives. (Exodus 1:14) They were ruthless. (Exodus 1:14) Unfortunately, it is a history that has been repeated.
In his book Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II Douglas A Blackmon describes legal obscurities and flimsy concoctions dredged up at the end of the nineteenth century by the state legislatures of Alabama and other southern states. “In Alabama alone, hundreds of thousands of pages of public documents attest to the arrests, subsequent sale, and delivery of thousands of African Americans into mines, lumber camps, quarries, farms, and factories. More than thirty thousand pages related to debt sit in the files of the Department of Justice at the National Archives." (pp. 5-6)
Blacks changing employers without permission, vagrancy, riding freight cars without a ticket, engaging in sexual activity or loud talk with white women led to arrests and subsequent enslavement.
“On July 31, 1903, a letter to President Theodore Roosevelt arrived at the White House from Carrie Kinsey, a barely literate African American woman in Bainbridge, Georgia. Her fourteen-year—old brother, James Robinson, had been abducted a year earlier and sold to a plantation. Local police would take no interest. ‘Mr. Prassident,’ wrote Mrs. Kinsey, struggling to overcome the illiteracy of her world. ‘They wont let me have him….He hase not don nothing for them to have him in chanes so I rite to you for your help.’ Like the vast majority of such please, her letter was slipped into a small rectangular folder at the Department of Justice and tagged with a reference number, in this case 12007.” (pp. 7-8)
“In the 1960s, U.S. Steel published a 100th anniversary commemorative book to honor Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Co.’s history dating to the 1860s. But the volume says nothing of the tens of thousands of slave workers who passed through its mines, the armies of broken miners, the hundreds buried or burned in its graveyards and ovens.” (Unable to determine page number from Ipad, sorry)
The Exodus narrative refuses to let an oppressive history be extinguished. Such histories must be reviewed in modern pulpits for the age of oppression unfortunately is still not over. End the sermon with illustrations of modern oppressions.
There are some histories which must be preached.
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