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Hieroglyphs & words fell / like mist, dripping / from heavenimagination

fertile, learn to pray unceasingly, / casting fire barrels / in molds made of clay



Nathaniel Turner

Christian Martyrdom in Southampton 

A Theology of Black Liberation

By Rudolph Lewis

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A Jail House Sermon


(November 5, 1831 -- Southampton County)

By Rudolph Lewis



Nathaniel, gift of God,

saved by a rapacious master

for a life worse than death

God gave Nathaniel visions

of things past & future 


marks on head, intelligently

inquisitive and observant,

too much sense to be raised


Hieroglyphs and words fell

like mist, dripping

from heavenimagination

fertile, learn to pray unceasingly,

casting fire barrels 

in molds made of clay


Honest, upright into manhood,

superior judgment, roguish plans

perfected by divine inspiration

austere in life & manners

avoiding society, wrapped

in mystery, fasting and attentive

to Luke's scripture "Seek ye 

the kingdom of heaven,

all shall be added."


Such was Nathaniel Turner

a man called by God.




I ain't no conjure man, no

trickster for coins, I commune

with the Spiritspeak the Wisdom

of God before fellow servants

of the Great Promise to be

fulfilled in me.


I ran to the Wilderness

thirty days and the Spirit 

appeared, saying

my wishes were directed

to this world, not heaven's

kingdomin silence


"You shall be beat with

many stripes, and thus I chasten you."


Astonishing all

I returned to my earthly master


I had then a vision:

white spirits and black

engaged in battle

for righteousness

the Son in the stars, thunder

rolled in the heavens

blood flowed

in streams


A voice in the treetops

spoke, "Such is your luck,

such you are called 

to see. Let it come 

rough or smooth 

you must 

surely bare the cross."


I withdrew more fully

into myself to commune

with the Spirit

God revealed knowledge

of the elements

the revolution of the planets

the operation of the tides

changes of the seasons


I tried to obtain

true Holiness before judgment

and received true knowledge 

of faith and from the first

steps of righteousness

until the last

I was made perfect.


The Holy Ghost

was with me, and said

"Behold me, as I stand in

the heavens." And I looked

and saw the forms 

of men in different attitudes

and there were lights

in the sky to which

the children of darkness

gave other names

than what they were.


The lights of the Savior's hands

extended on Calvary for sinners.


Laboring in the fields

I came upon drops of blood

on the corn like dew

from heaven

hieroglyphics on leaves

numbers with the forms 

of men in different attitudes 

portrayed in blood.


The blood of Christ shed

on earth ascended

to heaven

for the salvation of sinners

now returning in the form of dew

The leaves bore

the yoke He had borne

for the sins of man


Judgment's great day

was at hand


My master's Methodists

refused to baptize me


So the Spirit baptized me

down in the water


I rejoice greatly

and gave thanks to God

then I heard a noise

in the heavens

a dove on my shoulder


On the 12th of May

1828, the Spirit appeared

saying, the Serpent

was loose and Christ

laid down the yoke he bore

for the sins of men

and that I should take

up the cross 

and fight against the Serpent


Time was fast approaching

when the first 

shall be last 

and the last first


And by signs

in the heavens, the time

would be made known to me

when to commence 

the great work


Until the first sign 

appeared I should conceal

it from the knowledge

of men


On appearance

of the sign I must

rise, prepare myself

and slay my enemies with

their own weapons.


I am here loaded

with chains, willing to

suffer the fate

that awaits me


I have never known

a dollar in life

swear or drink a drop

of spirits -- a mind

capable of obtaining all

I sit calm, composed, clothed

in rags, stains of helpless

blood, I raise

manacled hands to heaven.

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 Different But Equal  /  Mastering A Continent  /  Caravans of Gold  / The King and the City / The Bible and The Gun

Basil Davidson Books

West Africa Before the Colonial Era: A History to 1850 / African Slave Trade: Precolonial History, 1450-1850


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Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

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Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.”  His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 21 April 2012




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Related files: Official History of Jerusalem  Mahalia Jackson   C L Franklin Review  The Black Religious Crisis   Howard Thurman  C L Franklin Review  Doubting Thomas  Sermonic Closings 

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