Profiles in Africana Religion - Part 24: Fire Burn! Queen Agnes and Queen Mathilda and the Burning of St. Croix
As it has been discussed, history seems to work in patterns. When a people are pushing for freedom on one continent, there is likely people in a similar situation fighting for their freedom in another location. This pattern is brightly reflected in the history of African people in the New World. To explain, while Africans in the US were fighting for their freedom, similar movements were developing in other parts of the world. As well, during a period in which women of African descent were freeing minds and bodies in the US, similarly in the Caribbean, women were figuratively and literally, burning down the old visages of colonialism and slavery and leading their people freedom. The following series of essays will highlight the dynamics work of women freedom fighters in and through the Western Hemisphere, beginning with the Queens of the Fire Burn Rebellion.
Before dealing with the women themselves, it is critical to know a bit about the history of enslavement on the island of St. Croix. In July of 1848, the enslaved of St. Croix won their freedom by staging a nationwide uprising. The planters of the island were convinced that the enslaved would burn everything and anyone who kept them from being free, they therefore relented and worked to develop guidelines for emancipation. That is to say, a form of quasi freedom was granted to the enslaved of St. Croix who were on the verge of violently rioting all across the island nation. Essentially, the Dutch granted a form of emancipation to the African inhabitants of St. Croix, just to keep them from killing and burning everything. However, the freedom that was granted was cursory. The visages of oppression remained alive and well. This cursory freedom could and would only last for a generation, until 1878. In 1878, the African inhabitants of the island were disgruntled over the lack of advancements made on the island of St. Croix. The freedom promised was in name only, living and working conditions had not improved at all between 1848 and 1878. Of concern as well, was the lean harvest years of the 1870s, the African population was struggling to feed themselves and meet the quotas demanded from them by the land owners.
The rebellion started around quarter-day in St. Croix, a day that reminded many of the empty promises of the island’s governors. As well, the day offered Africans of the island the time and space to coordinate their rebellion. The weapon of choice for this rebellion was fire. The three women who led the Fire Burn rebellion – Queen Mary, Queen Agnes and Queen Mathilda – were essentially elected to their royal positions by their army of disgruntled workers. Queen Mary Thomas was identified as the leaders of the rebellions, Queens Agnes and Mathilda were chosen to be in Queen Mary’s court because they were present for the ritual that preceded the uprising. Mary Thomas, as she was born, first emerged on this plane on the island of Antigua in 1848. She did not arrive in St. Croix until the early 1860s, sometime during her teenage years. Queen Thomas was always rebellious, before she became the Fire Queen of the island, she had been arrested for a number of petty misdemeanors (a fact that could have been contrived by the Dutch government to discredit her and her efforts).
Queen Agnes and Queen Matilda are the lesser known compatriots of Queen Mary, but again they served as the royal court for this important rebellion. While Queen Mary was being named as the mother of this rebellion, as with the Generals of the Haitian Rebellion, the Queens and the weapons of the rebel army were blessed. To elaborate, according to legend, Queen Agnes and Mathilda stood as the Fire Burn field generals while Mary and the weapons were blessed for battle. During the rebellion, the rebels made quick work of many of plantations, burning houses and crops to the ground. The indignant inferno of St. Croix’s rebels burned homes, fields, business and crops; destroying all that European enslavers valued. The rebel forces where so powerfully overwhelming that, “On October 4, 1878 the British, French, and American warships arrived and offered to help stop the riot. By the time the riots were over, great destruction to the islands had occurred. Over 879 acres were burned, and the damage caused was estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars.” When the eventual dust settled the three queens were captured, exiled to Denmark where they served a life prison sentence. .
Though the rebellion was suppressed and its queens imprisoned, the legacy of three Queens continues on the Island of St. Croix. In particular, Queen Mary is still valorized in song on the island:
"Queen Mary, ah where you gon' go burn?
Queen Mary, ah where you gon' go burn?
Don' ask me nothin' t'all
Just geh me de match an oil
Bassin Jailhouse, ah deh de money dey"
The fact that her and Queens Mathilda and Agnes are still valorized on the Island in memorial, song and statue speaks to historical tone the inhabitants of the Island want to maintain. They are a people who have fought and continue to fight for their freedom and sense human autonomy. Again, this sentiment is not to be taken lightly. Instead, it must be studied and the energy harnessed as our present freedoms are tested and our labors trivialized. As well, it must serve as a reminder of the critical role that African woman have and continue to play in the fight for global African freedom.
 Oddly enough, many of the freedom movements in the Caribbean were called “labor” disputes. It is odd verbiage, but it is implies choice, a choice that did not exist in the period of Caribbean colonialism. Could Nat Turner’s rebellion be called a labor dispute? Or better yet, was the Civil War simply the natural result of a labor dispute that got out of hand? The verbiage seems extremely problematic in that it fails to boldly call out the problem – this and many other conflicts were uprising of the oppressed – nothing less.
 This statement is referencing the work of women such as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and the like who worked tirelessly in the latter half of the 19th century fighting for the freedom of African people.
 George F. Tyson, and Karen Fog Olwig. "‘Our Side’: Caribbean Immigrant Labourers and the Transition to Free Labour on St. Croix, 1849–79." Small Islands, Large Questions: Society, Cultural and Resistance in the Post-Emancipation Caribbean (1995): 135-61. This essay highlights the Labor Act of 1849 which would be a major catalyst for the Firburn riot in 1878 because of the erosion of rights year by year after the signing of this Act.
 Ibid. Lomarsh Roopnarine. "Maroon resistance and settlement on Danish St. Croix." Journal of Global South Studies 27, no. 2 (2010): 89.
 Neville Hall. Slave Society in the Danish West Indies: St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. (Aarhus Universitetsforlag, 1992).
 The Three Rebel Queens - https://www.virgin-islands-history.org/en/history/fates/the-three-rebel-queens/. Accessed July 2019.
 Karen Fog Olwig. Small Islands, Large Questions: Society, Culture and Resistance in the Post-Emancipation Caribbean. (Routledge, 2014).
 The Three Rebel Queens - https://www.virgin-islands-history.org/en/history/fates/the-three-rebel-queens/. Accessed July 2019.
 The St. Croix Labor Riot Organized by 3 Women Leaders “Queen of the Fireburn.” - https://blackthen.com/the-st-croix-labor-riot-organized-by-3-women-leaders-queens-of-the-fireburn/. Accessed July 2019.
 Jeannette Allis Bastian. Owning Memory: How a Caribbean Community Lost Its Archives and Found Its History. (Libraries Unlimited, 2003), 12.
 Powerful Sisterhood Led to Freedom in the US Virgin Islands - https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/powerful-sisterhood-led-freedom-usvi-n530221. Accessed July 2019. On this website, there is an image of a statue that was constructed in honor of the three Fire Burn Queens. European tourist to the island, perhaps do not recognized the significance of the memorial, but the residents of the island do, as they work to maintain a sense of autonomy and peoplehood.
Profiles in Africana Religion - Part 23: Yaa Asantewaa, Ghana's Golden Warrior Goddess and the Sacred Golden Stool
Across the pond, there were (and are) dynamic movements for freedom and independence on the continent of Africa. One in particular, was led by a woman from the Asante people of Ghana named Yaa Asantewaa. To be clear, colonization and slavery worked hand in hand. Ambitious Europeans traversed to and through the continent of Africa subduing land and people for their own benefit. As a result, Africans on both sides of the globe were tortured in life and worked to death. Not only, were Africans lives and freedom stolen from them, but as well their most valued resources, art and culture. However, one stood up to the thieves when they came to the border of Asante-land demanding what which was not theirs: the Golden Stool. The proud history and spirit of the Asante people are tied to this sacred stool. According to legend – before the reign of Osei Tutu I, the Asante people were a dividing and warring group. To bring a sense of unity to the people, Okomfo Anokye - a High Priest - was charged with appealing to God and the ancestors to find a path toward peace. Anokye’s pleas were answered in the form of the Golden Stool, which according to legend descended from the heavens and landed at the feet of Osei Tutu I. From that day forward the Golden Stool became the unifying symbols of the power and pride of the Asante people.
Destined to be Queen Mother of the Asante’s, Yaa Asantewaa was born on a Thursday sometime in 1840 and was the eldest of two siblings. Though she was not born in Kumasi (the capital of Asante-land), she was born of the Asante people in a small village in Southern Ghana named Beseese. Her childhood was happy and uneventful, when she came of age she married into a polygamous marriage and gave birth to a daughter. Asantewaa did have a younger brother who was named Chief of Edewoso, a small but vibrant Asante community. During her brother’s time as Chief, the Asante Kingdom was going through a period of dynamic flux. Apart from the problems created by the presence of colonial Europeans, there were internal issues within in the Kingdom itself. For instance, for five years (1883-1888) the Asante Kingdom was engulfed in a civil war. This war took its toll on the kingdom, weakening it to the point that it was vulnerable to outside influence and attack. In addition to being marred in Civil conflict, the Asante’s had squared-off against the British Army five times in the 19th century, which had also worn down the Asante Empire.
Though Asantewaa’s brother made it through the Kingdom’s conflicts and maintained his position as Chief, he passed away a few years after the civil war. His passing left a vacuum within the power structure of the community, however, it also created the opportunity for Asantewaa to make history. To explain, though Asantewaa’s brother held power in their small community, he was merely a local Chief who answered to the King of the Asante’s, Prempeh I. Prempeh's reign was conflict filled, between the Asante Civil War and the colonization of the British Empire, the Asante’s were mired in political instability. When the British came to the King demanding the obedience of the Asante’s as well as unfettered access to their resources (including the Golden Stool), he and many other chiefs and Asante officials refused and were subsequently arrested and exiled to the Seychelles Islands on other side of the African continent in the Indian ocean. The British believed when they removed the power base of the Asante’s, they would have unchallenged access to the spoils of the kingdom. They were mistaken.
About two centuries after the legend of the Golden Stool, during the British colonial period, Sir Frederick Hodgson, regional governor of the Gold Coast (Ghana) demanded the Stool so that he may sit upon it, symbolically conquering the spirit of the Asantes. The stool was never meant to be sat on, not even by the Asantehene (King of the Asantes). Again, the Golden Stool is not a throne, it was a symbol of the spirit of the Asante people, their culture and their historical lineage. Further, as Queen Mother, Yaa Asantewaa was given the tremendous responsibility of being Gatekeeper of the Golden Stool. The Queen Mother is the second highest position in Asante-land. It is her responsibility to not only guard the integrity of the Golden Stool, but as well she is acts as the mother of the reigning King, guarding the integrity of the Kingdom itself. As Queen Mother, she is an advisor to the King and if the seat is to become vacant, she is responsible for finding and vetting candidates and would-be successors to the crown. When word got back to her that the British had violated the sanctity of the stool and what it stood for, war was declared by Yaa Asantewaa.
This final war for the Asante and the British was the most bloodletting, resulting in massive casualties on both sides of the conflict. Nevertheless, after the dust had settled from the conflict, the British empire still did not have possession of the Golden Stool, but Yaa Asantewa had been captured and exiled to the Seychelles Islands, where she would live out her final years. During the war, the Golden Stool was hidden from the British and they never found it. Instead, it was discovered years later (sometime in the 1930s) by some Ghanaian road workers who were accused to stripping the stool of its Gold plating. The three accused men were tried for their crime in local Ghanaian court, but with the British government still being a colonial force in Ghana, they intervened in the trial on the workers’ behalf; after a short trial they were found guilty and were sentenced to be executed, but the British government intervened in the trial, sparing the lives of the accused. The colonial government also returned the Golden Stool back to the Asante people where it remains the symbol of the spirit of the people it was always supposed to represent. Today, for security reasons, the general public can only view a facsimile of the Stool, as the real stool remains heavily guarded and out-of-reach of any would-be colonizers or thieves.
 Lerone Bennett. Before the Mayflower: a History of the Negro in America, 1619-1962. Colchis Books, 2018. In the first two chapters of this text, the author speaks at length about the Three Great West African Empires, of which Ghana is the first. The Ghanaian Empire (not to be confused with the Republic of Ghana) was the first of the three Great West Africans Empires. The original Ghanaian Empire stood for about five centuries, from the 8th century of the Common Era to the 13th century.
 Kwame A. Appiah and Henry Louis Gates Jr., ed. Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. (276).
 It must be noted that this unifying symbol and legend shares some symbolic connection the comic book character Black Panther from the fabled Wakanda. Furthermore, Though it is a stool, no one is to sit on it, even the King of the Asante’s was not to sit of the stool, but is only to allowed his bottom to touch three times as a symbol of his authority.
 The reason the day of her birth is clear, but not the date is due to her day name. Most Ghanaians are given a day name at birth, a name that is reflective of the day she was born. Yaa is for a female born on Thursday, Yaw is the male counterpart.
 Yaa Asantewaa. “Black Past.” https://www.blackpast.org/global-african-history/yaa-asantewaa-mid-1800s-1921/. Accessed June 2019.
 A. Adu Boahen. Yaa Asantewaa and the Asante-British War of 1900-1. (James Currey Publishers, 2003). Ivor Agyeman-Duah, Yaa Asantewaa: The Heroism of an African Queen, Accra, Ghana: Centre for Intellectual Renewal, 1999. Nana Arhin Brempong (Kwame Arhin), "The Role of Nana Yaa Asantewaa in the 1900 Asante War of Resistance", Ghana Studies 3, 2000, pp. 97–110.
 The Asante Wars 1823-1900. https://v1.blackpast.org/gah/anglo-ashanti-wars-1823-1900. Retrieved June 2019. The First Anglo-Ashanti War began when the Ashanti claimed territory disputed with the Fante, a client state of Great Britain. The (first) war officially ended in 1831, after the Ashanti accepted the Pra River as the boundary between the British-controlled Fante coastal region and the Ashanti Empire… The second Anglo-Ashanti War occurred between 1863 and 1864. In 1863, a large Ashanti force crossed the Pra River in search of a fugitive, Kwesi Gyana. British, African, and Indian troops responded but neither side claimed victory as illness took more casualties on both sides than the actual fighting. The second war ended in a stalemate in 1864… The Third Anglo-Ashanti War occurred from 1873 to 1874. British General Garnet Wolseley led 2,500 British troops and several thousand Indian and African troops against the Ashanti Empire. The war ended in July 1874 when the Ashanti signed the Treaty of Fomena… The fourth Anglo-Ashanti War occurred between 1894 and 1896… The final war, a rebellion called the War of the Golden Stool, took place from March through September 1900.“
 "The Downfall of Prepmeh" by Robert Baden-Powell, 1896, the American edition is available for download at http://www.thedump.scoutscan.com/dumpinventorybp.php. Accessed June 2019.
 “The Anglo-Ashanti War,” New World Encyclopedia, http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Anglo-Asante_Wars; “The Anglo-Ashanti War,” Warfare History Blog. Accessed June 2019. http://warfarehistorian.blogspot.com/2012/10/anglo-asante-wars-1824-1906-hundred.html; “The Anglo-Ashanti War,” British Battles, https://britishbattles.homestead.com/files/africa/The_Ashanti_Wars.htm; Robert B. Edgerton, The Fall of the Asante Empire: The Hundred-Year War Of Africa Gold Coast (New York City, New York: Free Press, 2010); Albert Adu Boahen, Yaa Asantewaa of the Ashanti-British War of 1900-1901 (London: James Currey, 2003).
 The Golden Stool: https://www.blackpast.org/global-african-history/golden-stool-17th-c/. Accessed June 2019.
There are many thinkers throughout history that have worked to use Christianity as a transformative vehicle for substantive change. However, there is, understandably, some concern regarding the ability of Christianity and Christians to usher in revolutionary change. Over the centuries, Christianity has been at the center of many problematic developments: African enslavement, Native American genocide, global colonization, et cetera. Nevertheless, there are some who have worked tirelessly to preserve the integrity of the Christian belief system regardless of its dubious relationship with peoples of color, women, the LBGT community as well as the poor. Alexander Crummell’s mission in life was to exact revolutionary change for African people throughout the world, but he felt the best way to make that change was through Christian conversion and strict adherence to Biblical philosophy despite its many short comings. This essay will work through this contradiction in an effort find the value in the Christianity that Crummell observed.
In March of 1819 Alexander Crummell was born free in New York City to free parents: Boston Crummell and Charity Hicks. Like his contemporaries Delaney and Garnet, Crummell could pinpoint part of his African lineage. His paternal grandfather was Tenme of Sierra Leone, taken from the continent as he was maturing into a young man. There was of course family lore that Crummell’s paternal grandfather may have been a local chief, however with no way to verify that information. To be clear, African people in America did not throw away their past as some have surmised, nor was it stripped from them in such a way that they were completely ignorant and oblivious to who they were. Black people kept their history even if their enslavers did not. Lineage for the Crummells, like many dislocated Africans was extremely important. Again, memory, both cultural and familial, are critical for a people once assumed devoid of history and ignorant.
The Crummells were situated in the middle of a very active African community in New York City. Alexander Crummell’s parents lived next door to Henry Highland Garnet’s parents after they absconded from enslavement. As children Garnet and Crummell attended the same primary educational institution, the African Free School (AFS) No. 2. The African Free School was founded in 1787 by John Jay and Alexander Hamilton as the first non-religious school for African people in the US. Though it was white controlled, it became a beacon for hope and advancement for America’s free African population at the time. John Rury author of the article “The New York African Free School, 1827-1836: Community Conflict Over Community Control of Black Education”, remarks: “Unlike white charity schools, which were reserved for the poor exclusively, the African Free School became a focal point of black community aspirations for a better future.” Moreover, while religious and/or charity organizations had strict guidelines for community involvement and their educational curriculum, the AFS worked to provide free Africans a voice in the education of their children.
In the North generally and in New York specially, the African population was growing and moving in extremely dynamic ways. Not only was there an influx Africans running to the North for their freedom, once safely in the North, many became very active in their communities, helping others find their way to freedom, involving themselves in self-betterment/educational programs and institutions as well as establishing culturally relevant ideas and traditions. Crummell attended school and worked with Garnet often as young men. On their road to cultural consciousness and self-discovery they moved in and out of various educational institutions in New England. Crummell eventually landed at the Oneida Institute, a body centered on the education of the Native American population of the US. While attended this school Crummell became an Episcopal priest, setting the stage for his life, career and legacy.
Crummell worked diligently to establish himself and his ministry in New England. His ordination came in the year 1844 at the hands of the Episcopal Church in Delaware. Working with the church and in the community Crummell’s reputation as an orator gained traction. He toured throughout New York state giving lectures and speeches on the evils of slavery. Eventually, he was asked to be the keynote speak for the Anti-slavery Convention held in Albany, New York in 1840. Success throughout his travels was hit or miss, he struggled financially, as well, him and his ideas were not always well received by Northern crowds. Again, Crummell’s focus, while very much centered on emancipation, worked from a very pious point of departure in which obedience to the church was the foundation. His ideas were not always received well; because of his marginal success touring in the US he decided to take his ministry to England where he found new opportunities.
Crummell also had reservations about the ACS (the American Colonization Society, not to be confused with the African Civilization Society), however, once he moved from the US and became acquainted with the African colonization thinkers in the UK, he began to reconsider his stance. He believed that colonization in the hands of Christianized African Americans would be the best approach, as a way to civilize unconverted Africans and to push the Gospel. This is a major issue that must be acknowledged for Crummell, in that his philosophy reads much like that of a colonist. His primary concern was the maintenance of Christianity as a tool of spiritual guidance (read: control), seemingly omitting or neglecting to address critical issues of culture germane to African and African American life. Essentially, Crummell was a missionary, working to convert African people to Christianity, turning many people off to his message and mission. Alred Moss author of “Alexander Crummell: Black Nationalist and Apostle of Western Civilization” argues, “His thoughtful and persuasive arguments for Christianity, Western culture, and, paradoxically for black nationalism as the indispensable tools for black empowerment had a significant impact on the tiny cadre of black leaders who sought to protect, motivate, and lead the masses.”
Despite Crummell’s conservatism his legacy is quite solid among Pan-African thinkers of the last two centuries. Like many conservative African thinkers, his ideology was very impactful for Marcus Garvey. Garvey again represents and epicenter of African thought that ties together two centuries of impactful cultural development. However, perhaps the most important contribution of Crummell was in the establishment of the American Negro Academy. This academy was very impactful during first quarter of the 20th century. In particular, this academy was critical for the development of W.E.B. DuBois establishing the idea of the Talented Tenth. Again, conservatism notwithstanding, institutional development such as this among African Americans is a critically important stepping stone in the establishment of African Americans as a community.
 Leon Litwack and August Meier, eds. Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century. “Alexander Crummell: Black Nationalist and Apostle of Western Civilization”, By Alfred Moss. (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 238. More on his lineage: “On his mother’s side he was a member of a New York family that had been free for several generations. His father, who described himself as the kidnapped son of a West African prince…” Wilson Jeremiah Moses. Alexander Crummell. (Oxford University Press: American National Biography Online, 2008).
 John L. Rury, "The New York African Free School, 1827-1836: Community Conflict over Community Control of Black Education," Phylon, Vol. 44, No. 3 (1983) pp. 187–197. Ibid. “African Free School (2010). Hunt, Thomas C.; Carper, James C.; II, Thomas J. Lasley; Raisch, C. Daniel (eds.). Encyclopedia of Educational Reform and Dissent. SAGE Publications. pp. 31–33. The African Free School was founded by Alexander Hamilton and John Jay in 1787 to provide free Africans in the state access to education. According to Rury: The New York African Free School was founded in 1789 to serve the city's growing free black population. Established by the New York Manumission Society to divert black children from "the slippery paths of vice," it was among the first nondenominational charity schools in Ameri can cities
 John L. Rury, "The New York African Free School, 1827-1836: Community Conflict over Community Control of Black Education," Phylon, Vol. 44, No. 3 (1983), 187.
 Stephen Thompson. “Alexander Crummell.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).
 Leon Litwack and August Meier, eds. Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century. “Alexander Crummell: Black Nationalist and Apostle of Western Civilization”, By Alfred Moss. (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 240.
 Stephen Thompson. “Alexander Crummell.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).
 Leon Litwack and August Meier, eds. Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century. “Alexander Crummell: Black Nationalist and Apostle of Western Civilization”, By Alfred Moss. (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 240.
 Ibid., 241.
 Ibid., 243. ”During the American Civil War, Crummell devoted himself to persuading skilled and educated Afro-Americans to resettle in Africa.”
 Ibid., 237.
 Ibid., 246. Website: Black Past – American Negro Academy https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/american-negro-academy-1897-1924/. Accessed May 2019.
 Website: Black Past – American Negro Academy https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/american-negro-academy-1897-1924/. Accessed May 2019.
American enslavement brought about many complications with regard to family development for African people. As discussed, Martin Delaney’s parents had a direct connection to the continent of Africa. This connection deeply influenced Delaney’s politics and the course of his life, blossoming into dreams and hopes of an African American exodus. For Henry Highland Garnet’s family, things were a bit different. The Garnet’s had been tethered to the horrors of American enslavement for three generations. Henry Highland’s grandfather was ripped from Africa’s bosom and brought to the Americas during the latter half of the 18th century. Sterling Stuckey states: “His grandfather had gone through the whole process of captivity in Africa, the middle passage and enslavement in America, where he also saw his offspring, Henry’s father, enslaved.” This experience shaped Henry’s father but it did not define him; he escaped enslavement with his family to New York when Henry was still a boy, a move that would inspire young Henry throughout his life. This essay will discuss the life of Henry Highland Garnet and his trek back to the continent of Africa.
Though the Garnets were a couple generations removed from Africa, as a family they embraced their African-ness with purpose and intention. To elaborate, when the Garnet’s were safely in the non-slave holding state of New York, George Garnet, Henry’s father, developed an ad hoc naming ceremony for himself and family. By this, they proactively chose to discard the names given to them and adopted new names, more fitting for their new identity as free people. The ceremony of this process was dynamic and ceremonial: George Garnet sat each member of his family down and renamed them with the intention to alter the way him and his family thought of themselves. To change one’s own name can alter the way a person thinks of themselves; changing a child’s name upon liberation is akin to changing their destiny. Therefore, it was critically important for George to do this for his family upon free soil to sow the seeds of liberation in their minds, hearts, and futures.
The process of naming for African Americans has always been a critical point of contention. On the continent naming ceremonies are culturally ubiquitous. That is, great care is taken to name children well, with intention and hints of foresight. European disruption to that process only amplified the importance of naming. Meaning, though Africans were renamed upon being branded as chattel once in the hands of their European American captors, many Africans kept their own names for the hush harbors, only answering to their slave names when vomited from European lips. As well, when physical freedom was secured another naming process took place, as in the example of the Garnet family. For the Garnets: “Not long after their arrival in New York, George Garnet led the family in a ceremony that was carried out on countless occasions in antebellum American and following emancipation in 1865 – a ‘baptism to liberty.’” Garnet wanted to make it clear to them and to all who they would encounter as free people that they were free person, worthy of respect and dignity.
Though Garnet was more removed from the continent of Africa than Delaney, he was no less cognizant of his cultural identity as an African. From an early age, he recognized and celebrated the diversity of the African communities he lived in New York and New England. Moreover, during this period of history it was not unusual to find African Americans celebrating their African-ness in worship, during ceremonies, and festivals. Garnet was fascinated by these gatherings and deeply influenced by the diversity of African people and the cultural pride expressed despite being prisoners in a hostile land. Stuckey elaborates: “A principal source of his nationalism, it appears, was rooted in that awareness, in the knowledge that he and his family were of African descent.” Having such influences as an African child in antebellum America is no small thing; as well such attention to cultural identity in Black community demonstrates a continuum of cultural knowledge and expression that is critically important in identity development.
Henry Highland carried the memory of his renaming and his father’s attention to cultural history throughout his life as a source of strength that guided and supported him. When he came of age, Henry Highland became deeply involved in preaching the word of God. His ministry began in New York where he taught and engaged in theological study. As a student and budding minister he involved himself in the anti-slavery movement. Garnet grew and eventually was named pastor of the Liberty Street Presbyterian Church in Troy, New York for a time. While in this position he did well to gain allies and support for his corner of the abolition fight, becoming an important voice in New York City community politics and development. As well, he often spoke throughout New York state and other parts of the North but his ideas were not centered merely on advocacy and political maneuvering, instead he pushed for armed rebellion. Many of his contemporaries felt he was too radical in his approach, but he felt the only way to truly end the cruel institution of chattel slavery was through violence.
Despite his sentiments, the possibility of America’s enslaved population rising up in unison, killing their Masters, and overthrowing the government was not a feasible strategy. He therefore began to consider other alternatives, namely emigration. Emigration for Garnet was an open field. He was not narrowly focus on Africa, but also considered the Caribbean and Mexico as viable alternatives for liberated African people. As Garnet nurtured his idea for African American colonization he became deeply involved with the ACS, the African Civilization Society (not to be confused with the American Colonization Society). Both the African Civilization Society and the American Colonization Society were centered on finding permanent relocation areas for African Americans, the difference was the former was founded by African Americans. In his later life, Garnet traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean and Africa searching for a new home for his people. He was not only looking for possible locations that would support an African American exodus, he was also studying the manner in which communities developed. Finding sanctuary for his people was a centering element of his life, it was the true North of his moral and cultural compass.
However, African American emigration was an enormous endeavor, the effort to practically execute this process would be daunting to say the least. Therefore, it is doubtful that it is or has ever been a practically solution to European oppression. But, the energy behind the sentiment and the need to carve out a space for African Americans to be without the weight of white supremacy, is very real. It is what defined Garnet’s life (as well as the lives of his contemporaries). Nevertheless, the practicality of emigration may have not been the point, entirely. The point is: as an oppressed people African Americans have and will continue to look for a “promised land”. Emigration therefore can be put into spiritual terms as: a sentiment of our hopes and dreams as well as a search for or a least a symbol of what is best in ourselves.
 Leon Litwack and August Meier, eds. Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century. (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 129.
 W. M. Brewer, "Henry Highland Garnet," The Journal of Negro History 13, no. 1 (January 1928): 36. According to Brewer: “In his personality were reflected the fired and genius of African chieftains who had defied the slave catches and later had rankled in Southern bondage. No disappointment could crush such a spirit as that which Garnet manifest in behalf of his people.”
 Leon Litwack and August Meier, eds. Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century. (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 130. He simply gathered his family sat them down and gave each of them new names for this new identity. In the 20th century the process of naming for African American would continue to be an important cultural element. Again, naming is a spiritual process in which African American announced their dreams of freedom and dignity to the world in a variety of ways. African American Muslims, for instance, would make name changing central to their philosophy. The Moors with “Bey” or “El”, the NOI and the “X” and the Nation of Gods and Earth or 5%ers and their god-body monikers like God Shamgod and Charlamane the God demonstrates the push to rename and repurpose oppressed human beings through naming. These are also baptisms of liberty in which people of African descent use the process of naming the shape and mold the destiny of their offspring.
 Ibid., 131.
 Ibid., 131.
 He was also deeply involved in the temperance movement, a religious movement centered on the prohibition of alcohol. This highlights the stern nature of his belief system as a Christian.
 Leon Litwack and August Meier, eds. Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century. (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 140-141.
 Ibid. 143.
Religious belief in the African American experience is sometimes taken for granted, as an assumed given. Because Africans in America have nothing but their faith in God, many have clung to it like a life preserver in the middle of an ocean – you are alive, yes, but any significant help might never come. Nonetheless, there are some who have warned to look for freedom in a practical sense; to not rely too much on the unseen when basic needs are not being met. Martin D. Delany is one such individual. Delany was a practical man, believing God, but also knowing that men and women had to fight for theirs on Earth instead of expecting to be saved by some unseen power. The following is a brief survey Delany’s life and struggle during antebellum and postbellum America, of particular concern is Delany humanistic approach towards religion and survival.
Though Delany was born in the South – Charles Town, Virginia – during the antebellum period (1812), he was not born in to servitude. Being born in the South as a person of African descent and not being born as chattel is quite an anomaly. To clarify, Delany was born to an enslaved father and a free mother, such a dynamic under Virginia law meant that he and his siblings were free as per the condition of the mother. Delany’s family moved to Northern Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, at a fairly young age. He was a bright young man, started training as a physician’s assistant in his teenage years. Interestingly, his medical training was somewhat of a trial by fire as he was immersed in the medical sciences during a cholera epidemic. Because of his skills and work ethic, Delany was accepted into Harvard Medical School, however because of outrage by racist students, he and several other African American students were not allowed to attend the college. Instead, he remained in Pittsburgh and trained in the medical arts with his mentor Dr. Andrew McDowell.
Delany’s family had a direct connection to the African continent, a fact that was never lost on him as he developed into a man. Delany’s mother was freewomen, however her parents were taken directly from the Continent. They were Mandinka from the Niger Valley and they were careful to pass knowledge of their family history down orally, never forgetting who they were or where they were from and ensuring that Delany would never forget either. Delany’s father as well was born to parents who had a direct connection to the Continent. They were Gola, from Liberia, a land that was later designated to be a refuge for emigrating Africans from the United States. Also, a land that Delany was destined to know intimately. Delany was very proud of his lineage and that pride directly impacted and shaped his understanding of nationalism and heritage.
Delany was a pragmatist, but he was still a religious man. In Pittsburgh, he became heavily involved in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and an active pillar of the Black community. However, as a man of science he did not just rely on faith, he believed in action and involved himself intimately in community affairs. For example, during the cholera epidemic of the 1832 he worked closely with the disease and its victims providing critical aid to Pittsburgh’s black community. Further, being a pillar of the community and earning a notable reputation, he became involved with the politics of Pittsburgh. He also began attending political conventions and eventually founded a Black-controlled newspaper called The Mystery. As a publisher he earned the attention of abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass gaining the support of abolitionist organizations throughout the North.
As history unfolded, Delany worked very closely with Douglass for the abolitionist cause (after Douglass and Garrison fell out over an ongoing dispute over the level of violence necessary for the movement). Together they founded the North Star newspaper, an anti-slavery periodical, out of Albany, New York, Douglass’s base of operations. As a duo they worked well together. Douglass handled the publishing and editing of the periodical, while Delany focused on lecturing and touring. The North Star was an important publishing effort by the African American abolitionists, however it was difficult for the duo to retain the support necessary to ensure it was as affective as possible. Eventually the periodical ran out of money and had to be abandoned. However, before the North Star project was scrapped complete, Delany was able to address significant issues related to the plight for America’s enslaved. In particular, the issue of emigration. For Delany the notion of emigration was extremely important; he never felt anchored to the US like some of his contemporaries, a likely result of his lineage.
Eventually Delany moved his family to Canada as a means of keeping them safe from would-be slave patrols and America’s unflinching racism. However, he was not just concerned about the well-being of his kin, he thought it prudent to get all enslaved Africans free from bondage by way of emigration. Nell Irvin Painter states: “Taking a sober look at race relations in the United States, Delany concluded that Afro-Americans should emigrate to Central or South American or to the Caribbean Islands, where they could become useful citizens and create a United States of South America.” Moreover, the strategy to emigrate may have been based in part on a Zionistic understanding of Black people’s status in America held by Delany. That is to say, Delany felt that Black people in America were a special, chosen people and as such were to move to hallowed lands through divine mandate.
Delany’s position on emigration was strong despite an over-arching sentiment that such an action was akin to colonization. Meaning, many African Americans opposed the idea of colonization or any method of removing African Americans from the US or forcibly uprooting an indigenous population from their rightful lands. Nevertheless, Delany organized emigration conventions in Cleveland, Ohio (1854) and Chatham, Ontario (1856) in order to begin laying the groundwork for that very act. At first Delany eyed South America and the Caribbean basin as likely destinations of America’s would-be emigrants, however by the third emigration convention (1858) Delany was looking for permanence on the African continent. Emigration to the continent was the central focus on the American Colonization Society, an organization Delany took issue with because it was controlled by whites. Despite this, Delany set his sites for Liberia as a possible home for African Americans much like the ACS; as such in 1859, Delany traveled to Liberia to begin the search for a new nation for the enslaved of the US.
The ability to turn a religion or belief system that was to suppress and oppress into one that provides a sense of self and agency is quite remarkable. Still, the ability to look within one’s self to find something that was taken from you – a sense of being and culture – and use that to survive and thrive, speaks to the endurance of the human spirit. Delany was a deeply religious man, but he always peppered his philosophy with a deep sense of humanism. African Americans had to make their own way in the world. Despite being the victims of white supremacy, it was still their obligation to reclaim what was taken and create a destiny worthy of fulfilling. Painter again states: “Even though he was a member of the African Methodist Episcopal church Delany castigate Afro-Americans for trusting in religion too fully. He believed that human affairs were regulated by three immutable invariable “laws of God”: the Spiritual, the Moral and the Physical. Black people erred by turning spiritual means toward moral or physical end, Delany said, but they should instead borrow a leaf from whites, who used wealth not prayer to improve life on earth.” Delany’s efforts to encourage African Americans to emigrate was not in the least politically pragmatic, however, his approach towards advancement through activism, advocacy and education as well as his posture towards community development and self-advocacy without the need of a deity’s guiding hand are critically important within African American historiography. Perhaps Delany’s philosophy presents the flutterings of early African American humanism as well as an opportunity for deep reflection on important of personal responsibility in human affairs.
 Frank A. Rollins. Life and Public Service of Martin R. Delany. (AMO Press, 1969), 14-17. Delany mother fought to ensure that her children were born free and remain that way.
 Robert Steven Levine. Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass and the Politics of Representative Identity. (UNC Press Books, 2003), 487.
 Frank A. Rollins. Life and Public Service of Martin R. Delany. (AMO Press, 1969), 14-17.
 Levine, Robert S., ed. Martin R. Delany: A Documentary Reader. (University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 27-29.
 Ibid., 69-70
 Leon Litwack and August Meier, eds. Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century. (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 152.
 Ibid., 155.
 Ibid., 155.
 Ibid., 156-157.
 Ibid., 152.
As the history of Pan-African ideology unfolds it becomes ever more clear that Marcus Garvey represents a focal point that has shaped the Diasporic and continental African worlds. By this I mean that Garvey influenced some of the greatest minds of the 20th century, but more than that, he was deeply influenced by some of the most dynamic minds of the 19th century. Again, this only highlights the fact that nothing in this world happens within a vacuum, and that when one bears witness to a dynamic personality and philosophy it is prudent to understand what went into shaping that individual. Moreover, this illuminates the dynamic connectiveness of human life and history as well as how much the global Black community is in communication with itself, a critical aspect of community building and maintenance. To further understand this dynamic, I present the life, philosophy and personality of Dr. Robert Love.
Much of Love’s childhood is a mystery, however it did not take him long to make an impact in his community and church when he came of age. As a young man he worked as a teacher on his birth island of Jamaica before leaving for Florida where he would immerse himself in the Christian sciences. He then decided to study the medical sciences at the University of Buffalo. After graduating and armed with the inspiration of the Haitian Revolution he decided to take his knowledge and skills to Port-au-Prince. Love was deeply influenced by the life and legacy of Toussaint L’Overture and wanted to use his gifts as a man of the clothe and a lettered man of the sciences to help is people rise up and rebel against European oppression. Moreover, in addition to his academic and spiritual accolades he was also deeply involved in Prince Hall Freemasonry. He joined the Lodge while studying medicine in New York and quickly rose to prominence within his chapter and the organization at-large, opening new lodges in both Georgia and Florida, as well he was named Most Worshipful Master. With his positions, connections and education, Love worked to become an accomplished philanthropist and activist for people of African descent both in the US and in the Caribbean.
Love lived and worked in Haiti for about a decade before he took his skills back to his home island of Jamaica. In Jamaica he continued his work in the church and the community at-large, but he also began work as a publisher, founding the Jamaican Advocate, a newspaper that would be very impactful to the socio-political life of Jamaica, influencing community leaders like Marcus Garvey. Love’s primary concern as an activist was education, specifically childhood education. But children were not his only concern. He also understood that the entire Jamaican population had been held in a state of perpetual ignorance because of English colonial policies. As such, he worked tirelessly to developed greater educational possibilities for the island’s citizens, which also lead to his involvement in Jamaican politics. In 1906, he won a seat of the Jamaican House of Representatives for the Saint Andrew Parish, the home parish of Alexander Bedward and George William Gordon, where he pushed his education platform until his health started to fail. Lastly, for this very accomplished activist, he published two books before he transitioned to the realm of the ancestors: Romanism is Not Christianity in 1892 and St. Peter's True Position in the Church, Clearly Traced in the Bible 1897.
Culturally, Love was keenly aware of the importance of Africa and her children. As such, he helped set the stage for modern Pan-Africanist thought, deeply influencing generations of thinkers to come. In the Jamaican Advocate he wrote: “Africa has been the carcass upon which the vulture of Europe have descended and which they have sought to partition among themselves, without any regard whatever for the rights of the Africans.” Pan-Africanism was an important aspect of Love’s notions of the Bible, believing that enslaved Africans were much like the ancient Israelites and that the children of Africa were God’s chosen. Historically, religious belief for many African people of Jamaica rejected the notion of the happy-obedient-slave, rather, they embraced versions of Christianity that was spiritually and culturally empowering. Further, Jamaicans embraced critical elements their African traditions (such as, healing and divination) through syncritic religious systems like Obeah. Such phenomena fed into modern Pan-African ideology, thought and practice. Given this, perhaps the question concerning early Pan-African thinkers like Love is, can their cultural ideology be separated from their religious identity? Or put another way, is Pan-African thought itself a spiritual belief system? Perhaps Pan-Africanism can just be looked at as an inseparable element of particular religious systems developed in the African diaspora. As such, Pan-Africanism itself could be simply an outgrowth of the Christianity and Islam developed by enslaved Africans of the Western Hemisphere as a survival mechanism.
Out of the work of Love, Bedward and their contemporaries lies the development of Garveyism and Rastafarianism. Both traditions are politically and culturally Pan-African, however, the argument can be made that both are religious/spiritual traditions as well. The research on the religious of Rastafarianism is fairly-well established. But for Garveyism, a bit more work has to be done because the UNIA was not developed specifically as a religious movement. Garvey was a deeply religious man, often pulling from Biblical scriptures, however it is not clear if the UNIA was specifically meant to be a religious movement, despite its overtones. Nonetheless, author Randall Burkett argues that Garveyism does feature clear elements of a spiritual system, such as the tone and texture of their meetings, the used of art, the attire of organization officials, and the use of religious language. However, perhaps the most convincing pattern for Garveyism as a religious practice was the ease with which members moved in and throughout other Pan-African/Black Nationalist religious groups of the time period. Organizations such as the Nation of Islam, the African Orthodox Church and the Moorish Science Temple all shared membership with the UNIA Garveyites. By extension, the argument can be made that these movements easily shared membership because these organization had the same tone and texture of a Pan-African/Black Nationalism religious system.
In addition to Love’s effort to advocate for a Pan-African cultural perspective he also championed the cause of women. He argued that the education of women and girls was paramount for the advancement of African people. In the Jamaican Advocate he wrote: “The race must rise by families not by individuals. Men are still despised in spite of their achievements. The race rises as its women rise. They are the true standard of its elevation.” For Love, the concept of “race consciousness” meant to move and think as an organism, as one. Jamaica itself is a living memorial to the work of Dr. Robert Love. Given the economic, social and political state of the Island this comment could have a number of inferences, both positive and negative. However, to clarify, Jamaica represents the dynamic nature of African culture and history – rich and dense, but messy. Furthermore, the syncretic combination of Christian ethics and morals with Love’s understanding of Pan-African ideology created new religious beliefs and traditions that would prove to dynamically shape African American thought of the 20th century.
 Charles Reavis Price. ""CLEAVE TO THE BLACK": EXPRESSIONS OF ETHIOPIANISM IN JAMAICA." NWIG: New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids 77, no. 1/2 (2003): 34.
 Rupert Lewis. "Garvey's forerunners: Love and Bedward." Race & class 28, no. 3 (1987): 29-40. Joseph Cox. Great Black Men of Masonry. iUniverse, 2002. Patrick E Bryan. The Jamaican People, 1880-1902: Race, Class, and Social Control. University of West Indies Press, 2000.
 Rupert Lewis. "Garvey's forerunners: Love and Bedward." Race & class 28, no. 3 (1987): 29-40.
 Joseph Robert Love. Romanism is Not Christianity. (1892). Ibid. St. Peter’s True Position in the Church, Clearly Traced in the Bible. (1897).
 Rupert Lewis. "Garvey's forerunners: Love and Bedward." Race & class 28, no. 3 (1987): 29-40.
 Leonard E. Barrett. The Rastafarians. Beacon Press, 1997.
 Randall K. Burkett. Garveyism as a Religious Movement: The Institutionalization of a Black Civil Religion. No. 13. Scarecrow Press, 1978, 16-17.
 Patrick E. Bryan. The Jamaican People, 1880-1902: Race, Class, and Social Control. University of West Indies Press, 2000, 233.
 Joy Lumsden. "Joseph Robert Love, 1839-1914: West Indian Extraordinary." Afro-Americans in New York Life and History (1977-1989) 7, no. 1 (1983): 25.
Alexander Bedward followed in the footsteps of the giants who walked before him – Sharpe and Bogle. However, he would make his own unique impact and contribution to Jamaica’s rich legacy of religion and rebellion. To briefly review, this series of essays has been centered on religious personalities and events that have defined/shaped American and Caribbean history. It is no accident that most of these dynamic religious personalities have also been at the center of paradigm shaping events throughout history. Furthermore, through this series, what has become clear is that particular religious beliefs have guided those who have shaped history, such as, the notion of freedom, what it means to be a human created in the image of God as well as a clear understanding of good and evil.
It is also no accident that most of the individuals discussed in these reviews are religious leaders who were themselves involved in rebellions and uprisings. When times were toughest and the overseers and enslavers were at the cruelest, it was the religious leaders that people looked to for guidance and support. As a matter of fact (or as a matter of pattern) throughout history when one is thrust into history’s light (via ambition or serendipity) that person usually has a strong standing in a religious community. They are the deacons, seers, prophets, preachers, bush doctors, witches, shamans and saints that are at the respective epicenters of their communities. As well, these are the individuals who make history, who bring the light when things are at their darkest, who inspire when things are at their most dire and who illuminate the way for the next generation.
Inspired by Paul Bogle’s stand at Monrant Bay is a man by the name of Alexander Bedward, revivalist and founder of Bedwardism. Bedward was born in Saint Andrew’s Parish in Northern Jamaica. As a youth Bedward worked on the sugar plantations of Jamaica, as well he was hired out to work in Colombia and Panama until well into his 20s. Religiously, he was baptized into the church when he came of age and quickly began to take on leadership roles within the church. When Bedward found his way back to his island home, he began developing a revivalist movement focused on the sovereignty of the Jamaican people. Bedward was a charismatic leader who was deeply involved in the community, not just as a religious leader but a faith healer as well. To elaborate, Bedward claimed he was divinely inspired to lead African Jamaicans on a path to spiritual renewal. Not only did he preach on the evils of white supremacy and hegemony, but he also advocated for fasting as a method of spiritual development. In addition, he frequently held baptisms, faith healing sessions and believed he was a conduit to the spirit world where he received messages from angels and spirits. He also taught meditation and sometimes put himself into a trance in order to converse with the spirits of the ether.
As a spiritual leader he displayed certain characteristics that made him extremely popular. For instance, he felt it was wrong to collect fees for his sermons and often spoke against this practice. He did not feel comfortable taking money from people who were already poor. While he was developing his ministry he continued to work as a migrant laborer, which meant he would not be a burden to the crowds he proselytized to, allowing him to reach as large population of Jamaicans. As well, preaching and touring helped him to have a clear understanding of the problems and frustrations his people were dealing with on a daily basis. As a matter of fact, he would often help to settle labor disputes and at times acted as arbiter to keep his followers employed. He was so successful with his ministry that he was able to develop congregations and followers throughout the Caribbean and Central America.
For all of Bedward’s work throughout the Caribbean basin, many people began to see him as the physical representation of God on Earth. Rupert Lewis, author of the article “Garvey’s Forerunners: Love and Bedward” states “Throbbing at the heart of Bedwardism was the restless frustration of the down-trodden and displaced peasant masses who looked to God for salvation, and saw in Bedward his representative in Jamaica.” Colonial authorities saw a large problem with Bedward’s gaining notoriety and power; and many of his followers saw him as a revival of Paul Bogle’s spirit. In 1895, in an attempt to thwart Bedward’s power before it grew beyond the control of the Island’s authorities, Jamaican police and the press attempted to frame him for inciting an insurrection. He was arrested on the charge of sedition and tried. His case was defended by a white lawyer named Phillip Stern who was able to have the charges dropped on reason of insanity. It is likely that Stern used the fact that Bedward claimed himself to be a prophet to get the insanity plea. Nevertheless, Bedward was committed to an asylum following this trial only to be released on a technicality shortly thereafter, enabling him to continue his ministry.
After being released from the asylum, Bedward continued his ministry throughout the Caribbean basin. Bedward ministry was, to be kind, rather eccentric. He taught that Black people needed to look toward Africa for inspiration and strength and often preached on the trials and tribulations of the Black Hebrews. However, he also made outrageous and erroneous claims which forced some to see him as nothing more than a snake-oil-pushing charlatan. For example, he would often make the claim that he was the reincarnation of Jesus and that upon his death he would ascend into heaven on a flaming chariot, must like Elijah. Much to his chagrin, he announced a date for this ascension to his followers who unfortunately took his word as literal truth and sold their all worldly goods in the hopes that they too would ascend. When he (or anyone else) did not ascend he attempted to walk his words back by claiming that the ascension he was referring to was a spiritual ascension, not a physical one.
In inspiring Jamaican resistance in the 20th century, Bedward, despite all of his flaws, is a major historical figure. That is to say, as a millenarian he directly influenced the work of Marcus Garvey and the Rastafarian movement in a variety of ways. First, Garvey like Bedward looked to Africa as a source of inspiration and strength, often relying on it as a symbol of heaven or a place where black people could be free of their white oppressors. Second, the Rastafarian movement, much like the Garvey movement, understood Black people as the literal descendants of the Biblical Hebrews. Both the Bible and Africa have been (and are) powerful symbols throughout the African experience in the New World that are consistently employed as representation of freedom. The Bible offers spiritual freedom while Africa embodies the physical freedom so many yearn for. These symbols are not to be taken lightly, particularly Africa. Meaning, as this research moves into the late 19th century and early 20th century, it will become more and more apparent that Africa incites something visceral and spiritual within Black men and women that has driven our freedom movement and moments.
 Martha W. Beckwith. Black Roadways: A Study of Jamaican Folk Life (1929). New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969. Barry Chevannes. Rastafari: Roots and Ideology. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1994. Elkins, W. F. "Prophet Bedward." In Street Preachers, Faith Healers, and Herb Doctors in Jamaica, 1890–1925. New York: Revisionist Press, 1977. Robert Hill. "Leonard P. Howell and Millenarian Visions in Early Rastafari." Jamaica Journal 16 (1981): 24–39. Rupert Lewis. "Garvey's Forerunners: Love and Bedward." Race and Class 28 (1987): 29–39.
 "Bedwardites." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (Accessed December 8, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/bedwardites.
 Vermont M. Satchell. "Early Stirrings of Black Nationalism in Colonial Jamaica: Alexander Bedward of the Jamaica Native Baptist Free Church 1889-1921." The Journal of Caribbean History 38, no. 1 (2004): 75. Roscoe Mitchell Pierson. Alexander Bedward and the Jamaica Native Baptist Free Church. Lexington Theological Seminary, 1969. Randall K. Burkett and Richard Newman. Black apostles: Afro-American clergy confront the twentieth century. Hall Reference Books, 1978.
Alexander Bedward. https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/historians-and-chronicles/historians-miscellaneous-biographies/alexander-bedward. (Accessed December 2018).
 Rupert Lewis. "Garvey's Forerunners: Love and Bedward." Race and Class 28 (1987), 36.
 Alexander Bedward. https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/historians-and-chronicles/historians-miscellaneous-biographies/alexander-bedward. (Accessed December 2018).
 Colin Palmer. Freedom’s Children: The 1938 Labor rebellion and the Birth of Modern Jamaica. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014).
As discussed in Part 8 of this series (Profiles in Africana Religion – Part 8: Samuel Sharpe and the Baptist War) the Baptist War was very impactful on the historical development of Jamaica. As well, this rebellion forces one to wrestle with how and why religious interpretation takes the form that it does. That is to say, Sharpe interpreted the meaning of the Bible in a way that benefitted him and his compatriots. Much the same way Turner interpreted the Bible and etherical messages he believed was receiving from God, Sharpe felt it was the Jamaicans’ divine right to rebel against unjust and hate-filled masters. Carrying on this legacy is a man by the name of Paul Bogle, who led the Monrant Bay Rebellion in an effort to achieve more rights and better conditions for the denizens of the island. The following discussion will display the history of the Monrant Bay rebellion, connect the dots between Sharpe and Bogle and investigate the dynamics and philosophy that shaped the uprising.
Bogle’s early life is not well known, except that he was born free sometime between 1820 and 1822. He grew up in St. Thomas Parish in Jamaica and became involved in the church at an early age. When he came of age he worked as a deacon and became heavily involved as an activist in the Monrant Bay community. In the community he was also a supporter and comrade of George William Gordon, one of the first Black politicians on the island. Being active in the community, Bogle’s main focus was centered on philanthropy – aiding the poor Black citizens of the Monrant Bay community transition from chattel to human. In such a position, he was poised to create change that would ultimately alter the complexion of the Island’s policies toward its African residents.
As a leader in the Monrant Bay community, Bogle keenly made his audiences aware of the issues of social justice that defined their lives. First, there was the problem of racial discrimination that planters would use to their advantage to maintain control of their workers lives and well-being. Second, like the US, being granted the right to vote did not automatically mean there was a clear path laid towards political and social freedom. Many of Jamaica’s residents were forced to pay a poll tax in order to vote, which was beyond the financial means of most of the newly freed residents of the Island. Lastly, for those who were able to acquire land after being granted freedom, much of the land left over to farm required a lot of work to produce results on top of having to deal with flooding and crop failures. And with little aid coming from the occupying government, freedom itself became a liability for many.
Furthermore, adding insult to the injury of the social circumstances in Monrant Bay, the rebellion in fact began as response to the dubious circumstances of a trial which took place on October 7th 1865 involving a Black man who was accused of trespassing. This trial triggered many emotions in Monrant Bay bringing out the worst of the protesters who were disenchanted by the system of oppression they lived under. During the trial one of Bogle’s cohort was removed from court and arrested for disturbing the proceedings. This arrest angered Bogle and the growing crowd for African dissidents even further leading them to engage the police in fisticuffs, freeing their compatriot in the process. On this day, upwards of 400 Africans fought with police and drove them from the Bay, a victory which ignited the community.
A couple days after this skirmish, on October 9th, arrest warrants were issued for Bogle and many others who resisted the police onslaught. In their effort to serving the warrants, police again were met with strong resistance at Monrant Bay causing them to fall back once again. After driving the police from their community for the second time, Bogle recognized the need to be more organized and began to gather townsfolk who were willing and able stand up to colonial forces. They developed a plan to march in mass to the courthouse on October 11th during the vestry meetings that were to take place. On the 11th Bogle and his followers marched down to the courthouse, numbering in the hundreds, in protest of their living conditions as well as mistreatment by the police and the courts. They were met with members of the local militia who were easily beaten by and forced to abandon the parish.
Bogle’s group had no qualms about using violence and fire to make their point; many where killed in the taking of the parish, as well rioters burned a number of buildings and businesses, including the courthouse. They were essentially too much for the colonial government to handle, therefore the colonists conscripted the help of local militia and Jamaican maroons. After two days colonial forces moved to retake Monrant Bay by force. The battle was fierce but the British forces eventually won out with very few able to escape. Bogle himself was caught by the Jamaican Maroons and was turned in to the colonial government. He was tried and executed quickly along with many others.
As a result of Bogle’s efforts, he has been upheld as a national folk hero in Jamaica, much like Sharpe. Not only are there monuments dedicated to him and the Monrant Bay Rebellion but as well there are a litany of folktales and songs written in his honor. To be clear, the effort to uphold certain heroes by successive generation speaks to a number of things that are culturally and philosophically relevant. To explain, iconography (hero worship to some) speaks to how a people see themselves in the past, present and future tense. That is to say, Bogle and others like him are instruments in which a people can reference when they are in need of spiritual strength and guidance. Furthermore, such an understanding of the past also feeds in to notions how a people want to grow and the direction they see their destiny heading. Kenneth Bilby author of the article "Picturing the Maroons in the Monrant Bay Rebellion: Complicating the Imagery of Commemoration”, states: “The canonization of Paul Bogle spurred the Maroons, like other Jamaicans, to give more thought than before to the Morant Bay rebellion as part of their history.” It is critical that such history is kept alive, particularly in light continued and constantly racial oppression.
 Jamaica Information Services – Paul Bogle. https://jis.gov.jm/information/heroes/paul-bogle/. Accessed November 2018.
 Jamaica Information Services – George William Gordon. https://jis.gov.jm/information/heroes/george-william-gordon/. Accessed November 2018. Peter Handford (2008). “Edward John Eyre and the Conflict of Laws.” Melbourne University Law Review. 32 (3): 822–860. Though he did not participate in the uprising Gordon was an advocate for the rebels and was accused of inciting them to riot. As such, after the rebellion he was tried for conspiracy and executed. After the execution the colonial governor who signed off on the execution, Edward John Eyre, came under fire for mishandling the uprising and the aftermath. Howard Johnson. "From Pariah to Patriot: The Posthumous Career of George William Gordon.” NWIG: New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids 81, no. 3/4 (2007): 197-218.
 E. L. Bute and H. J. P. Harmer, The Black Handbook: The People, History and Politics of Africa and the African Diaspora. (London & Washington: Cassell Publishing, 1997) 10.
 Kevin O'Brien Chang, “Paul Bogle – Defender of the People”, The Gleaner, 25 July 2012. Again, these methods of voter control and suppression were widely used throughout the American South, until the 1960s through the work of the Civil Rights Movement.
 Gad Heuman, "The Killing Time": The Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica, (Nashville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995), 164-182. The trial itself seemed rather absurd as a man was being tried for trespassing on land that had been long abandoned.
 Ibid., 164-182.
 Kenneth Bilby. "Picturing the Maroons in the Monrant Bay Rebellion: Complicating the Imagery of Commemoration.” The Princeton University Library Chronicle 72, no. 2 (2011): 574-83.
 Ibid., 574.
Most rebellions/revolts are marked in-large part by violence. When the downtrodden decide to stand-up and declare “no more” it is usually a very bloody affair for both the enslaved and enslaver. However, this is not the case for the Demerara Rebellion of Guyana. This rebellion is marked by its uniqueness in that it was largely non-violent (on the part of the enslaved). This essay will explore the strategy and ethics that went into the Demerara Rebellion. As well, of interest is the philosophy of non-violence that shaped the uprising into the unique historical moment that it is.
The Demerara-Essequibo territory of Guyana was a colony in the West Indies whose ownership shifted from the British to the Dutch and back again throughout the 1700s and the early part of the 19th century. As such, there was shifting ownership of plantations and their resources, particularly for enslaved Africans and sugar cane. The colony itself held thousands of captive Africans on large, highly profitable plantations. According to generous estimates there were about ten thousand captives spread out between close to three hundred individual plantations. On these plantations, the enslaved population was treated very poorly, which fed into feelings of animosity and resentment.
The major players of this uprising were an African born man named Quamina Gladstone and his son Jack Gladstone. They were wards of Sir John Gladstone, owner of the “Success” plantation. On this plantation, Quamina and Jack worked as drivers and coopers, which provided them with a considerable amount of freedom and influence on the plantation and off. Again, it seems that freedom of movement as well as the ethos of being African-born were a powerful combination for the enslaved leader. In planning the uprising, Quamina made it known that this was to be a non-violence revolt. It is not clear why this was the case, perhaps Quamina knew a violent revolt would end badly for both parties or maybe he just wanted to send a powerful message to the enslavers in order to push for a parley. Nevertheless, those who followed Quamina reluctantly agreed to the strategy and promised to not kill any whites, though moderate violence would be allowed.
An excerpt from the fallout of the rebellion states: “The first object of the slaves was to seize upon all the white inhabitants, and confine them in the stocks, to prevent their going to town for troops, and, after having made themselves masters of their arms and ammunition, to go in a body of town to oppose force to force. It was also determined, by the ring-leaders, to break up the public bridges, in order to impede the march of the military.” So, it seems that in addition to locking enslavers up, there was also a strategy for preventing encroachment of the military, which would also prevent further death by keeping the opposing forces from reaching one another. The British colonial forces, however, would not be as kind in their approach. Their mission was to squash the rebellion as completely as possible, which for them meant killing, maiming - and after the dust settled – executions.
When the uprising started martial law was declared and enforced by local security forces as well an ad-hoc militia was assembled to quell the mounting violence. The rebels were only armed with cutlasses, sticks and a couple firearms that were secured from plantations in their path; they were resolute in their charge to not kill. During the revolt, there were a number of significant battles. Namely, at the Reed Estate where 800 rebels stopped production on the land for a number of days, as well the Beehive plantation was also a sight where forces clashed until the rebels were squashed. However, the most significant battle for the Demerara Rebellion took place at Bachelor’s Adventure, where 1500 rebels battled with the governor’s forces for more than a day. At Bachelor’s Adventure there was a standoff between colonial forces and the rebels where Jack Gladstone himself battled alongside his rebel compatriots. The standoff at Bachelor’s Adventure eventually ended, however, Jack and his wife were not captured and remained on the run for about two weeks. Around September 6th Jack and his wife were finally brought in by Captain McTurk without any further violence.
Another interesting aspect of the Demerara Revolt is the involvement of John Smith, a white anti-slavery activist who was cited as a major reason for the uprising. To elaborate, Smith was English-born but took a position as a chaplain by the London Missionary Society on February 23, 1817. In Guyana, Smith was known for his rhetoric about the evils of slavery and was accused of inciting the enslaved Africans of Demerara to revolt against the enslavers. Moreover, Smith’s rhetoric may have involved disclosing information that led to the belief that colonial emancipation had already been granted in London but was being withheld by the island’s enslavers. To be clear, there is nothing to directly connect him to this point, nevertheless Smith was known for preaching of the nefarious nature of the colonial slavocracy directly to the enslaved and preached this same truth to power until his dying day.
After the uprising, there were a number of trials of both the revolting Africans and John Smith. Quamina was executed along with scores of other revolting Africans; to add insult to injury Quamina’s body was put on display (along with other leaders) as a warning to future insurrectionists. His son, Jack Gladstone, did not suffer the same fate. Instead he was deported to St. Lucia where he remained until his death. Smith was tried on a number of charges, which essentially boiled down to “promoting discontent and dissatisfaction in the minds of the Negro Slaves towards their Lawful Master”. Though Smith did promote the destruction of Guyana’s slavocracy, it must be said that as an abolitionist he only echoed the sentiments of the enslaved Africans. Meaning, due to the circumstances of their birth Africans did not have to be pushed to realize their discontent, it was clear to them already, Smith merely added fuel to the growing fire. Nevertheless, Smith was tried, found guilty and sentenced to death. While in prison awaiting appeal Smith died of consumption before he could be heard.
The strategies of the enslaved during this revolt were admirable. Due to their non-violent approach it seems their motive was change, not the death and destruction of all whites. Being that this was done under the strict order of Quamina it suggests that he was more interested in discussion and negotiation as opposed to all out war. This type of leadership is to be admired and studied as it demonstrates forethought towards a peaceful resolution. The enslaved merely wanted better conditions, a request that the enslavers had no interest in entertaining. Therefore, what this represents in a missed opportunity on the part of the owners to work with their wards humanely rather than as animals.
 Raymond T. Smith. “History: British Rule Up To 1928.” The Negro Family in British Guiana. (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 1956).
 It is likely that Quamina was born in Ghana, which was also a British colony.
 Richard B. Sheridan. “The Condition of the Slaves on the Sugar Plantation of Sir John Gladstone in the Colony of Demerara 1812-1849.” (New West Indian Guide: 76: 3), 243-269. John Gladstone entrusted the care of the land and its occupants to a third party named Frederick Cort, who was fired for mismanaging the property.
 Joshua Bryant. Account of an Insurrection of the Negro Slaves in the Colony of Demerara, which broke out on the 18th of August 1823. (Georgetown, Demerara: A Stevenson at the Guiana Chronicle Office, 1824). Emilia Viotti da Costa. Crowns of Glory, Tears of Blood: The Demerara Slave Rebellion of 1823. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).
 Joshua Bryant. Account of an Insurrection of the Negro Slaves in the Colony of Demerara, which broke out on the 18th of August 1823. (Georgetown, Demerara: A Stevenson at the Guiana Chronicle Office, 1824). Moderate violence in this case included beating and/or flogging of masters and overseers, but no killing or maiming. There are reports of enslavers also being put in stocks or tortured in the same fashion that the enslaved Africans were, but no one was allowed to take life.
 Ibid., 6-7.
 Ibid., 52-53.
 Ibid., 52-53.
 Ibid., 83-84.
 Edwin Angel Wallbridge. The Demerara Martyr. (Caribbean Press for the Government of Guyana, 1848).
 Joshua Bryant. Account of an Insurrection of the Negro Slaves in the Colony of Demerara, which broke out on the 18th of August 1823. (Georgetown, Demerara: A Stevenson at the Guiana Chronicle Office, 1824), 91. There were a few other charges tacked on to Smith, however, all of the charges basically centered on the idea that abolitionist riled up enslaved Africans.
 Ibid., 94.
The legend of Bussa’s Rebellion (April 14-16, 1816) is a key element of Barbadian history and culture. Particularly for the formerly enslaved Africans of that island, Bussa has taken on the shape of folk hero and/or saint for his efforts in rebelling against oppression and tyranny of the Barbadian planters. Moreover, Barbados has a rich history of rebellion, which has fed in to the culture and ethos on the small island for over two centuries. This essay will discuss the events of Bussa’s revolt and how it has reverberated throughout history. Further, this essay will briefly exam how Bussa’s rebellion helped to usher in the emancipation of enslaved Africans of Barbados. Of critical important for this discussion is the process of hero making that takes place in the Black community, a religious experience that requires the deification of mortal beings. Simply put, this essay will inquire on how does one become a folk hero in the black community, the sacredness of this position and the ethics that such heroes must exhibit.
There is not much biographical information on Bussa, but what is known provides important clues as to how and why he organized this revolt. First, Bussa was born in Igboland of Nigeria. At an unknown age, he was captured by African merchants and sold to English traders who transported him to Barbados. Second, it is likely he was an older man with a significant amount of influence on the planation as a driver. Evidence to this point rests in the fact that the slave trade for Barbados ended in 1807; if he was African-born he had to have arrived sometime before then. Further, for him to be African, master the language, and gain respect as well as influence 1) among the enslaved who followed him into battle and 2) among the enslavers to trusted him as a driver, he had to have been in Barbados for a significant amount to time. Further, according to Hilary M. Beckles author of “The Slave-Driver’s War: Bussa and the 1816 Barbados Slave Rebellion”, Bussa commanded respect and had a following of close to four-hundred men and women, ready to face the planter class head-on.
Among the enslaved of Barbados there were a number of issues that contributed to the rise in animosity towards the planter class. Beyond the notion that institution of slavery was already problematic, there were issues with keeping the enslaved “employed”. That is to say, with Barbados already being a small island, there were not enough plantations (farming space) to keep the involuntary African migrants fed and occupied. This allowed space for dissention among the working class as well as opportunity to plan and organize an uprising. However, this too would prove to be problematic for the enslaved population. To elaborate, because of the topographical dynamics of Barbados, any insurrection that was to be would be hard fought and arduous for Africans. Insurrections, like Turner’s or the German Coast uprising had the advantage of the environment – swamps, wooded areas, forests – which would allow for a guerilla-esque engagement. Barbados does not have such guerilla-friendly environment.
Barbados itself has an interesting history regarding African uprisings. Meaning, up until Bussa’s rebellion in 1814 there were no large-scale rebellions on the island, only minor skirmishes and riots. There were a number of small uprisings and strikes which took place in the 17th and 18th centuries, however, none were particularly impactful. Beckles elaborates: “There had been aborted insurrectionary attempts in the earlier years, such as the small scale and localized affairs of 1649 and 1701, and the more general conspiracies of 1675 and 1692, but throughout most of the eighteenth century, a period now seen by many historians of West Indian slave resistance as characterized by endemic conflict in master-slave relations, the society seemed internally more stable and the slaves subdued.” This only meant that the pressure-cooker-situation that had been simmering up to that point was about to blow.
The planter class, not having experienced many large rebellions historically, felt that they had successfully kept their enslaved population in check. This was a point of pride for the planter class; their biggest worry was random runaways or small-scale strikes, but nothing that would threaten their power on the island. Beckles elaborates: “Evidence produced by prominent members of the white community suggests that the uprising was sudden and unexpected. Whites generally believed that their slaves, not having attempted any insurrections since the minor aborted Bridgetown affair in 1701, were more prone to running away, withholding their labour in protest, petitioning estate owners, attorneys and managers concerning conditions of work and leisure, than to armed insurrection.” The planters seemed to be almost haughty in their posture towards the working class, confident that there would not be an uprising, and if there was they (the planters) would be able to quell the unrest with relative ease.
From the perspective of the working class, the enslaved of Barbados believed themselves to be the owners of the island and its destiny, despite being under the yoke of the British empire. As well, because of the planters’ inability to accurately gauge the sentiment among their enslaved, there was a high level of dissention that had been brewing in the slave quarters for years. Much of this dissention was based on the overall feeling among the enslaved, that emancipation was being held from them by the imperial colonizers. There were rumors that widely circulated the slave quarters that freedom had already been granted by the crown in England, but the enslavers of Barbados were withholding this information in order to satisfy their greed. The power of these rumors as well as the general yearning for freedom, set in motion the chain of events that would result in the drafting of the emancipation proclamation for the Caribbean.
During the uprising, Bussa and many of his constituents (army) were killed and the rebellion was quelled with relative ease, however, the legacy of Bussa and his efforts continue to live on. Among the Africans who still occupy the island, Bussa is a name that brings strength and his legacy continues to inspire the push for freedom on the island. The government of Barbados has also recognized the importance of Bussa’s legacy and have erected a statue in his honor in the parish of St. Michael. In addition, Bussa was given a place of prominence in the Hall of Heroes in the Barbadian Parliament. However, despite the legacy of Bussa, Barbados remains, like many nations that began under the yoke of enslavement, a place of poverty and struggle.
The religion of folk heroes of not a widely studied phenomenon among the African diaspora, nevertheless it is a critical issues that deserves in depth analysis. In the US there are folk heroes with continue to resonate, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Marcus Mosiah Garvey, just to name a few. Haiti has their heroes of the Rebellion, Jamaica has Haile Salassie and Bob Marley and Barbados has Bussa. In each case ordinary human beings with extraordinary stories are placed on pedestals as examples of strong moral conduct, ideological fortitude and uncompromising ethics. As such, these ancestors become deities, whose examples continue to guide those of us still struggle against white supremacy.
 Emily Allen Williams. The Critical Response to Kamau Brathwaite. (Praeger Publishers, 2004), 235. K. Watson, The Civilized Island, Barbados: A Social History, 1750-1816 (Barbados: Caribbean Graphics, 1979), 125-135. R. Schomburg, The History of Barbados (London, 1971), 393-400. M. Craton, 'The Passion to Exist: Slave Rebellion in the British West Indies, 1650-1832' Journal of Caribbean History vol. 13. (1980), 1.
 Hilary M. Beckles " The Slave-Driver’s War: Bussa and the 1816 Barbados Slave Rebellion." Boletin de Estudios Latinoamericanos y del Caribe 39 (1985), 90. The record suggests that Bussa was likely African-born and his name may have actually been Bussoe.
 Ibid., 90. Beckles argues that he was likely a driver.
 Ibid., 90.
 Ibid., 90. It was suggested that he may have had military experience as a young man in Igboland.
 Ibid., 90-91.
 Hilary M. Beckles " The Slave-Driver’s War: Bussa and the 1816 Barbados Slave Rebellion." Boletin de Estudios Latinoamericanos y del Caribe 39 (1985), 86. ““Barbados was the very worst field for such an experiment, since in no British colony was success in an attempt to obtain even a short lived freedom by insurrection so hopeless… there are no mountains, no fastnesses, no forest. European foot, and even horse, can traverse it in all directions.”
 Throughout history one of the most potent threats to a large standing army is small groups of guerilla fighters. However, for those small groups to be successful they must take advantage of the environment – trees, bushes, rivers, swamps, hills and so forth. Therefore, any insurrectionists would not be able to rely on the environment, thus nullifying a critical ally for any oppressed people.
 Hilary M. Beckles " The Slave-Driver’s War: Bussa and the 1816 Barbados Slave Rebellion." Boletin de Estudios Latinoamericanos y del Caribe 39 (1985), 85.
 Ibid., 85.
 Ibid., 89.
 Ibid., 86.