In The Corridors Of A Church, They Planned A Rebellion

James H. Cone reminds us: “To sing about freedom and to pray for its coming is not enough. Freedom must be actualized … by oppressed people.” One preacher embodied this – by using his pulpit to change the world for centuries to come.

In The Corridors Of A Church, They Planned A Rebellion
Via Wikimedia Commons 

When he wasn’t slaving away on the sugar cane plantations, Samuel Sharpe was the Baptist Deacon for his people. Within that community, under the guise of worship, he would preach about abolition to his enslaved congregation. And he did more than preach.

Christmas was coming, and Sharpe laid out his plan. On those Jamaican shores, the enslaved Africans were going to make their voices heard and touch freedom – or death.

Through the local news, Sharpe had discovered that Parliament was considering legally ending slavery. Convinced that the abolition act had already passed and white planters were simply disregarding it, he decided it was time to act!

He led a protest on Christmas day, which was largely ignored because it was too passive.

So, a few days later? The protest transformed into a riot, where tens of thousands of enslaved people began looting and burning plantations! This would eventually be called the Baptist War.

Sharpe was executed for leading the rebellion – but less than two years later, and as a result of the unrest, the Abolition Act would be passed. “I would rather die upon yonder gallows than live in slavery,” he proclaimed before his death.

He was committed to his people’s liberation by any means necessary, and viewed his people’s liberation as an essential element of his spiritual calling. Shouldn’t we all?

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