Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Contributions of Our Early Black Congressmen, Part 3

From the words of Robert B. Elliot, January 6, 1874, addressing the equal rights and equal public privileges for all classes of American citizens. As you read the following, ponder whether the speech would have been as powerful without the scripture quotation.

The Holy Scriptures tell us of an humble hand-maiden who long, faithfully, and patiently gleaned in the rich fields of her wealthy kinsman; and we are told further that at last, in spite of her humble antecedents, she found complete favor in his sight. For over two centuries our race had "reaped down your fields." The cries and woes which we have uttered have "entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth," and we are at last politically free. The last vestiture only is needed--civil rights. Having gained this, we may, with hearts overflowing with gratitude, and thankful that our prayer has been granted, repeat the prayer of Ruth: "entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy god my God; where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried; the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me." [Followed by great applause, according to the Congressional Record.]

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