Black History Month: Robert Smalls and the Radical Grace of Jesus Christ

2Peter 1:2 “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.” 

“I don’t want a Black History month. Black History is American History.” But then how are we going to get rid of racism? “Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.” This was actor Morgan Freeman in a 2005 interview, as he objected to America dedicating the month of February to “Black History Month” instead of simply “American history.” His message: we are all Americans who must oppose division over race and come together as one nation.

Freeman had much more to say in a 2014 interview with CNN’s Don Lemon: Does race play a role in wealth distribution or in the mindset that you can’t get ahead because or your race?” Freeman: “Today? No. You and I are proof. Why would race have anything to do with it? Put your mind to what you want to do and go for that.” Lemon: “But it’s hard when you say to some people ‘Pull yourself up by the bootstraps,’ because not everybody can do that.” Freeman: “Bull$^@# – everybody can. Making it (systemic racism) a bigger issue than it needs to be is the problem here. If you are born in the US, it really doesn’t matter what was the condition of your birth. What matters is what you inherit from your nurturing and your environment. From the standpoint of having been born with very little, in America you can always get out of that.”

Morgan Freeman, like many black leaders, refuse to give in to the progressive message that blacks are victims who must be cared for rather than having the dignity as Americans to achieve on their own.

This is where Bob Woodson’s “1776Unites” Project, which he launched to counter the NY Times’ 1619 Project and Critical Race Theory, shines brightly to validate Freeman’s point. Woodson provides true, inspirational stories that highlight American blacks who have overcome against all odds. Woodson, a Christian, likes to say that “America doesn’t have a race problem, it has a grace problem. There are all kinds of examples of what I call God’s radical grace in action.” Here is Woodson’s story of Robert Smalls.

“In 1862, Robert Smalls was one of 6 members of a supply ship slave crew in Sumter, South Carolina during the Civil War. When his white master went off one Friday night to dine, he commandeered the ship and picked up the families of his slave crew, then put on his boss’ hat and his coat, and maneuvered the ship past 5 Southern garrisons. He then turned the ship over to the Union Navy. As a result of his heroism, President Abraham Lincoln allowed black men to fight in the Civil War.

After the war, Smalls became a wealthy businessman. During Reconstruction, he served in the House of Representatives. He then went back and purchased the plantation on which he was a slave. When he discovered that the wife and the children of the former slave owner were destitute, Smalls took them into his house and cared for them. Seeing that she was delusional and never realized slavery had ended, he permitted her to even sleep in the master bedroom. Robert Smalls is an example of radical grace in action.”

As our verse explains, and as Bob Woodson proclaims, God’s grace is a radical grace poured out on those who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Robert Smalls, a Christian who rose through incredible adversity first as a slave and then as a Union soldier, to a businessman and politician, lived God’s grace by pouring it out on those who forced him into slavery! Woodson is on the right track – we as Americans need these stories during Black… oops, I mean, “American History” month.

The Evidence of Faith’s Substance _ Article #486

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