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Cry of the West

 

The Story of

 

The Mighty Struggle for

 

Religious Freedom

 

In California

 

By

Walter F. Watkins

Berkeley, California

 

1925






 

 

 

Page 2.

 

PREFACE.

 

The aim of this book is to furnish to those interested a true story of the great struggle of one man against the entire Northern part of the great state of California.

This work has been done with the conviction that the pastors, teachers, laymen, and all interested members of our race, should become as well acquainted with the conditions of the home field as well as those of heathen nations.

The Author believes that the simple facts of the history of The Negro Baptist Association, the work of G. C. Coleman, D. D., as well as the conditions as they existed before and as they exist now, will prove of interest to our race throughout these United States of free America.

If the pastors and leaders deem it valuable as a book of reference for themselves and to their members and their friends who are desirous of knowing the truth about California (religiously), and help in the distribution of the same, the Author will feel amply rewarded for the effort made.

 

Walter F. Watkins.

Berkeley, California, August, 1925.

 

THE CRY OF THE WEST.

 

While pastoring a splendid church in a Texas city, I received a letter from the Baptist Church at Berkeley, California, the letter gave me general information, as well as the statement that forty thousand dollars had been set aside by the Home Mission Board (White) to build a new Church in Berkeley.

Without any investigation whatever I came to Berkeley in January, 1921.

It is true that I didn't like the situation at all, but I was in California and decided to stay. I saw the possibility of a great church here.

After a stay of perhaps four weeks, I called my trustee board in session. I stated to them that I wanted to know what was in their possession, what the church owned and what it owed, in fact I wanted to know of its business. I was informed by those brethren, that I would have to go over in San Francisco to the Baptist Headquarters, and get the information that I desired. Of course this didn't sound so very good to a Texas preacher, but then I was very anxious to learn, since I was in California where White and Colored Churches co-operated.

 

 

Page 5.

 

So I made the trip to San Francisco, and I found the Baptist Headquarters, occupying six rooms in the Humboldt Bank building. Everything was White, no colored person was found employed there.

There I met the Secretary of The Northern California Baptist Convention, also The Superintendent of the Baptist Bay Cities Union and all of the General Officers. I made myself known to them, told them that I was the new pastor of The Berkeley Church.

They were greatly surprised to know that I was in charge of one of their churches.

They gave me to understand that I couldn't pastor this church unless they say so.

They stated however that there was a possible chance of me securing the church if certain conditions proved favorable. They asked me whether or not that I was acquainted with certain well known minister of my race who happened to be in charge of the Negro work and whose headquarters were in New York. I thought that I knew him pretty well. This helped me some. Then they informed me that the minister has some one else for this church. But I insisted that this couldn't very well be true, since the Baptist Church has a right to call or select their own pastor. I was told "that wasn't California's way of doing things." I further argued, that no man, nor set of men, nor any organization had a right to tell me who my wife should be, and the same held true with the Baptist church.

However, I asked, "since I have come so far and have spent so much money, what might be the possibilities of my securing the work?"

They gave me a long yellow sheet of paper, with a lot of questions on it. It ran something like this:

Name, Age

Place of Birth

Wife's Age, Place of Birth

Mother Living, Father Living

If dead, from what cause

What College did you attend

What College did your wife attend

Your last pastorate

Why did you leave

What can your wife do

Give eight or more references, white and colored.

And so on.

They told me to fill it out "right now." But I insisted

 

Page 6.

 

on taking the thing home with me, and so I did. And I decided to go through with it.

About three months later, they notified me that I was accepted and that I would receive thirty dollars per month from them as long as "You prove satisfactory."

Along with this letter came twelve cards, one for each month. These were report cards, and they were full of questions, too, something like this:

How many sermons preached this month?

How many marriage ceremonies performed?

How many prayer meetings held?

How many pastoral visits made?

How many new members added to the church?

And many more questions. Of course they wanted to know what amount of money did I raise for the church and for them.

They had us assessed for so many thousand dollars a year. They called it The New World Movement Plan. Of course I thought that they wanted too much for thirty dollars, but I wanted to learn, and as a rule when I want a thing, I try hard to get it.

Things went along fairly well for a while. Yes I attended all of the meetings, white and colored. The Negros were not allowed a say in the white meetings, but were there simply to listen.

The Secretary of the Northern California State Convention was always present at every colored meeting regardless of where it was held.

I did real well with my church, it was always crowded and as a rule there was always some white man in my service, and everything that I said, that "wasn't right" found its way to Baptist Headquarters and I generally got my "balling" out for saying it.

All of the Negro Baptist Preachers got together one day, and I said to them, "Brethren I have something to say, but before I say it, let me say, that I feel that there are some things that we should discuss among ourselves that need not get to headquarters, but let it stay right here."

Well, everything I said got to headquarters, and got there ahead of time.

So I received a letter saying that a meeting was to be held at a certain church in Oakland, California, and that all of the Negro pastors must be there. I was there and was on time because I wanted to learn all that I could.

The meeting was called to order by The Moderator of

 

Page 7.

 

The General Baptist Association. He stated that at the last session of the association that a field missionary had been elected and that the white folks didn't like him. Then the white man spoke and told them a few things, such as "obeying orders," and "do what I tell you," and the good Lord know that those Negro preachers took his advice and threw the poor Missionary out right then. I was about through with the whole by this time, and began to speak right out loud. I stayed right with the gang, but I kept my things packed up all the while, because I was expecting orders to move at most any time.

Then one day I received a notice of a very important meeting of the "brethren" and it was very necessary that I should be there, absolutely so. When I arrived I found them all there waiting for me, that is all of the Colored preachers and one white preacher, and he was known as "the big boss."

Yes they were all waiting, and when I walked in I expected to greet each one of my brethren with a hand shake and a "how do you feel this morning?" But I was not allowed this privilege, instead the white man said to me, "Watkins, have this chair," and at the same time he pushed a chair towards me.

I would have been better pleased had he put some sort of a handle to my name. Something got the best of me all at once, and I decided then and there that I was going to explode. I said "thank you, Doctor, but, I prefer to stand." Then my trial began. I really didn't care what happened to me right then, I simply wanted to hear what he had to say to me, and then I was going to make him hear me or go to heaven trying.

And it proved to be just that way that I wanted it to be. He told me that I had not obeyed orders, that I had been talking too much. "You have been preaching stuff that we don't want preached in our churches, you have been making folks shout, and breaking up the chairs, walking off with the Bible and pulpit on your shoulders, and all that kind of stuff. That stuff belongs back in the south, and from now on, you are going to write out your sermons and read them intelligently, to your congregation." And a whole lot more was said to me by that white man, with a word every now and then from a colored brother. I waited patiently like Job, for a change to come, and then when I thought that he was through, I asked him, "are you through, Doctor?" and he replied, "yes." I began by informing him that I was out of the south but the south was not out of me. I told him that I was not responsible

 

Page 8.

 

for my actions in the pulpit, and that so far as reading my sermons, that I didn't read essays in the pulpit but that I endeavored to preach Christ, and that I was determined to get the message home regardless of how I had to act to do so. I told him that I cared nothing for a religion that had no feelings in it. Whatever the Spirit led me to say or do, that I did, regardless of him or any one else. They had been kind enough to furnish me with sermons, especially those on stewardship, and they would come over often and check up and get the money. I gave him to understand that he nor any other man could tell me what to preach, and that he could save himself that time and trouble of mailing me sermons.

Of course deeds to my church were in this man's name, even the insurance was made out to him. He laid the law down to me, and then I told him that so far as I was concerned, he could take the Berkeley church, and what I told him to do with it, dear reader, wouldn't look very well in print, but it was all true, and I meant it. I closed with him by telling him that if I wanted a church that I could stand on the street corner and preach and organize me a church. I further told him that I could be heard in California.

He called at my home to make offers to me, and I told him that that I wouldn't sell "out" for thirty dollars; he offered fifty, he offered more, but I was through.

For this same reason, The Rev. G. C. Coleman, D. D., had been standing alone for many years, fighting a great battle. It was truly one man against a host of no, not men,but hirelings, and I wouldn't disgrace the pages of this book with their names in it.

When I heard the soul cry of Dr. Coleman, my heart enlisted. Everyone loves a fighter.

Not one friend did he have among the ministers of Northern California. Orders had gone forth against him. He couldn't even rent a hall in one of the other towns if they knew it was he, and the purpose that he wanted to use it for.

One Sunday afternoon, at a special service held at the North Oakland Baptist, of which Dr. Coleman is the pastor, my very soul was stirred to its innermost by that great fighter and leader, a mighty preacher and scholar, a great sheltering oak out in the storm. His words were, "I am sorry that I ever started the work here in Northern California, for I have stood alone for these many years." There he added, "I could have just as well devoted my time to my own church, but I thought of others."

 

Page 9.

 

I had had the opportunity to learn much of this man Coleman; I found him to be the storm center. When there were nothing else to talk about, why they would talk about Coleman, the preachers were doing it, society leaders were doing it, the Negro papers were doing it, nor was that all; the doors to his church were always open to all. The ministers of the city and elsewhere were welcome at all times in his pulpit, and one minister came one evening to his Church and denounced him in his own church. But the one thing about this great preacher, he never bowed his head, he never shed a tear, for he was a strong man, for no weakling could have done what he has done. I had gone on learning about Coleman, all that I could, not for any specific reason, I simply wanted to know, and while everyone was fighting him, I wanted to know the reason why, and I set out to find out why.

I found that The Rev. Coleman had done more for his race in Oakland than all of the Negro preachers put together had ever done. Should one ever come to Oakland, look around a little and you will soon learn the Dr. Coleman is in the middle of everything. He was the cause of the city of Oakland having Colored Firemen, and all of the Colored men that hold political jobs are there by the request of this great preacher. And whenever a great trouble arises among the people, they look up Dr. Coleman. More Negroes have been kept out of prison, more Negroes have been released from San Quentin by the efforts of this one man than from any other source. No wonder these hirelings fought him, and seemingly had him against the wall. But did he surrender? No. That was the one thing he could not do, and would not do.

And I heard that "Cry." It came from his soul. It rang in my soul. I could not rest. It rang throughout the chambers of my soul. I could hear it in my sleep. He had stood alone and fought with his back to the wall. My heart enlisted. Perhaps after all this was my field, after all this may be my one great opportunity. Then I was permitted to preach for him. And a long time afterwards, his wife told me that my sermon brought more sunshine to him and her, than all else that they had had or heard. This was the sentence that seemed to cheer them up, "There is a fine line between success and failure, so fine that you can even stand on it and not see it, often we quit when just one step more and we could have succeeded."

Dr. Coleman has always contended that the Negro Baptists everywhere had a right to buy and build and to

 

Page 10.

 

have property deeds in their own name. He contended that any contribution made to any Negro church should not have strings to it.

I became a member of The Negro Baptist Association of Northern California at its annual session held at The North Oakland Baptist Church in the City of Oakland, October, 1922.

I attended some of their Board Meetings. Now in these meetings, I had an opportunity of witnessing the Moderator putting into actual practice the words of Dr. H. A. Boyd, "Take what you have and make what you want." Now here was a man, the pastor of the leading church in Northern California, and a member of The Great National Baptist Convention of America, trying to do something with practically nothing.

He began this Association with his own Church and two other small churches. Later both these churches withdrew from him and went back to the White Board. But he would call his Board every three months just the same and would have his annual session and the members and friends of his Church would give him one hundred to one hundred and fifty dollars every time he called for it.

Then he would call his Board to order, appoint his various committees just as though he had a great number of Churches. I so often heard him say, "Well that's just fine," after each committee would make their report, another expression he would make was, "We are making History."

I wonder how unhappy he was, standing there all alone? I wonder if he wasn't really discouraged? Now sometimes, he tells me, "I would have quit but I knew that they would have laughed at me."

Then he organized The North Richmond Baptist Church at Richmond, California; The Rev. Henry Holmes was its pastor. Rev. Holmes was a member of The North Oakland Baptist Church and he was ordained for this Church by Dr. Coleman. Rev. Holmes proved to be a loyal, a sacrificing minister and God gave him courage and strength to accomplish a great deal. He was the first and only pastor that The North Richmond Church has had.

A few of the members of the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church at Oroville pulled away from that Church and organized The Orovista Baptist Church and became connected with The Negro Baptist Association.

Then the Second Baptist Church of Visalia connected themselves with the Association.

 

Page 11.

 

Then The Rev. John H. Moore, a member of The North Oakland Baptist Church organized The Mt. Zion Baptist Church in West Oakland.

At the annual session of The Association held at The North Richmond Baptist Church at Richmond, California, your humble servant was elected as The Field Missionary. Oh, we had what we call "a big time."

Something like two hundred and fifty dollars was raised during the session. Now it was the custom to divide the money raised among each of the struggling churches. So there was held a big afternoon meeting on the Sunday following the Association, and after the sermon, The Moderator, suggested that "we divide the money now." It would be fair to state here, that the North Oakland Baptist Church never received any of the monies raised, but went to the other churches. Nor has the Moderator ever received a penny for his services or expenses to and from the Board meetings nor the Association meetings.

As the money was being divided one of the ministers rose and asked the question, "Brother Moderator, what about the Missionary?"

The Moderator spoke right out loud; he said, I have told you brethren, that I am done supporting preachers, and that means Brother Watkins.

I was sitting there by the side of my wife and I was on my feet at once to reply, but my wife pulled my coat, and told me not to say anything, because "you know what you have done and you can do the same thing over."

I was willing to hear my wife, so I simply stated that, "Brother Watkins didn't ask any one to support him but the Missionary must be given some consideration."

The matter ended there, the Missionary received nothing.

So we began our task of either building up or tearing down The Association.

The First thing I needed to help me in my work as the Field Missionary for The Negro Baptist Association of Northern California, was the utmost confidence of the Moderator, The Rev. G. C. Coleman, D. D.

How to get it? Was the question. There was no money for the Missionary and I refused absolutely to be a Missionary in name only. My wife insisted that I stay on the Job.

Dr. Coleman had been tricked so many times until he feared to trust preachers any longer. Why the last Missionary, a great preacher and teacher, who signed his name with the attachment A. M. D. D. to it, quit the job

 

Page 12.

 

cold and wrote up the Association and the Moderator in one of the local colored papers, and that paper put the headlines clear across the top of the front page in Big Black Letters, denouncing Coleman. Called him everything that was printable.

Then the pastor of The Stockton Church took that Church out of the Association and did the same thing. I tried to buy space in that same paper to answer that preacherbut my letters always found their way into the waste basket. But that Editor didn't know what a Texas preacher would do. Perhaps you don't know either, dear reader. Well, you may take it from me, they are pretty hard to defeat.

When I found that all of the doors were closed in our faces, when I found that all of the Negro papers fought us, I set about to find a way to get publicity. I became determined to get the truth home to the Negros in Northern California, for I had promised To Be Heard in California.

I concluded to publish our own paper, so The California Missionary made its first appearance in February, 1924. It was a sixteen page affair, size eight by fourteen. It carried nothing but religious matter and church news. I put it out with the sole purpose of getting publicity and to tell the Whole Truth. I tried to make it so very interesting until the people would want it.

It was a monthly journal and sold for fifty cents a year mailed anywhere to any address. Then I got on the train and went from town to town and gave them away to every Negro I saw.

My mail became very great, and before I realized it, I had six thousand persons reading The California Missionary each month. Letters poured into my office requesting my presence at different places.

Of course I lost money on the paper, but I was gaining something more valuable to me just now than money.

The California Missionary silenced the big Guns that had been trained on Dr. Coleman for years, you couldn't even hear a grunt from the Editors that had so often attacked us. They not only attacked our Moderator, but they dubbed me as "His Man Friday." Now I never intend to try to make any one take back anything that they may say but I simply accepted it as opposition, and as you may well know opposition brings out the best that there is in man, providing of course there is anything worth while in him.

It was a great day for me when the enemy ceased their attacks on The Moderator for I had won his utmost confidence.

 

Page 13.

 

He found out that I would not betray him into the hands of his enemies, but was willing to stand side by side with him and fight it out along the Unincorporated Line. We ran the California Missionary for one year and then we made the Rev. D. C. Knox of Los Angeles a present of it, as it had answered our purpose.

 

The Western Appeal, Hon. G. E. Watkins Editor, now gives us all of the space required for our work, and your humble servant is the editor of our page in that paper.

 

In our annual session held with The Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Oakland, we reported three new Churches organized as follows: The Mt. Olive Baptist Church of Tulare, California; The Union Baptist Church of Oakland, California; The Mt. Calvary Baptist Church of San Francisco.

 

This Annual Session of The Negro Baptist Association proved to be the greatest in its History. We reported the sum of one thousand two hundred dollars raised from all sources. Seven hundred fifty dollars for missions. The Missionary received one hundred and forty five dollars for the year's work. We reported the doings of The National Baptist Convention held in Chicago, Ill. The Association paid The Missionary's fare and expenses to and from the Convention.

 

The Moderator and The Missionary from this time on became bosom friends. Many nights were spent together in deep study, plans were laid for building up the work. Some of the plans failed, while some of them carried. We felt encouraged, however, to go as The National Baptist Convention had given us two hundred dollars.

 

The Missionary paid a visit to Vallejo, California, and attended the morning services of The Second Baptist Church there. After the preaching was over the pastor introduced us, as "Dr. Coleman's Missionary." I stated that I was not there for any other object than to be present in their service and to worship with them. However I did state, "You know where I stand." And then I began to warm up just a little, and at the conclusion of my remarks, some of those strong men rose up and told me, right out loud, "Yes, and we stand with you." And they proved it in their next business meeting by voting forty seven to seventeen to withdraw from the white board and to unite with The Negro Association. Then we put forth an effort to win the great Church at Bakersfield, but The Missionary was not permitted to put his foot inside of that Church. But we won that Church and you will read in another part of this book how it was done.

 

Page 14.

 

Then we started an effort to win The Mount Olivet Baptist Church of Oroville, the mother church of our own Orovista Baptist Church of that City. We won again. You will also read about it in another part of this book.

We shall have our report ready when our Annual Session is held at The North Oakland Baptist Church in the City of Oakland.

We have set ourselves to the task of winning, and we pray that God may give us strength to carry on.

Yes, there are other Churches to win, others to be organized, opposition (much of it), and money is being spent freely to defeat us, but in the Name of God we mean to carry on, and we shall WIN.

 

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA.

 

Northern California is that part of California extending from the foot of the mountains about thirty miles from Bakersfield and northward to the boundary lines of Oregon and Nevada. Hence Bakersfield is in the extreme southern part of the North and Dunsmuir is the extreme northern part.

Bakersfield, Tulare, Visalia, Fresno, and other cities are located in the rich San Joaquin Valley, the State highway and the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads pass through this very rich valley.

Sacramento, Marysville, Oroville and other cities are located in the rich Sacramento Valley.

There are yet other valleys and other cities but the reader can form some idea as to the situation from these descriptions.

Different parts of these valleys are adapted to the growing different kinds of fruit and vegetables. For instance, around Turlock in the San Joaquin valley, thousands of cars of watermelons and canteloupes are raised and shipped yearly.

Fresno in the same valley ships car loads of raisins; Bakersfield, grapes; Modesto and Merced, figs; etc.

In the Sacramento Valley, Oroville ships thousands of cars of oranges and lemons; Yuba City, peaches; etc.

Thousands of cars of wheat and other things are raised and shipped. Then there are the saw mills to be found in such cities as Weed and McCloud.

And now King Cotton has made his appearance, and while railroad sidings have been dotted with fruit packing houses, now comes the cotton gin and the cotton compresses.

One can see the importance of establishing early Baptist

 

Page 15.

 

Churches wherever they are needed because of two reasons; our people are pouring into California because they are adapted to this kind of work, and next, the Japanese exclusion act is causing the Japanese to leave the fields. Lots of people are here and more are coming. We should be ready for them when they come.

Southern California has the advantage of Northern California in that there are more Negroes in the City of Los Angeles alone than there are in the entire Northern section of California. The climate of Los Angeles is warm, and the beach resorts are inviting while in the North the high fogs make an overcoat feel good at all times. So thousands of people go in the South where only a mere few reach the Northern section, all of this holds true especially in the cities.

Our Field Missionary is in constant touch with all of the sections of the West and knows the true conditions of the field and its needs.

At Taft will be found the great oil wells, and at Wasco will be found the refineries, these places are near the city of Bakersfield.

Our Missionary knows where our people are, their needs and conditions.

Since the cotton has made its appearance into our section of the state, many of our people are flocking into the sections where it is planted and raised. Our Missionary organized a Sunday School in one of these place, a little town called Pixley. He found several families there that came from the South. Many of them had no houses to live in and had to live in tents until houses could be provided. He found at Pixley alone eight families living in tents. He organized a Sunday School with fifty-nine children here.

This is but one example, and there are many others. They are asking for churches and for preachers. The question is, what can we do? Whom shall we send? And, who will go? The White Board has a paid Missionary whose transportation is paid, and who pays a part of the Missionary pastor's salary.

We appeal to the Brotherhood for help.

 

THE BAY CITIES

 

There is a strip of land on the Pacific Coast in Northern California that runs cut from the Mainland, and on one side of it lies the great Pacific Ocean and on the other side is the San Francisco Bay which is four hundred and fifty miles long. This strip of land is known as San Francisco,

 

Page 16.

 

and there is a channel of water that separates San Francisco from other main land, that permits the ships to pass into the harbor of San Francisco Bay, and this is known as "The Golden Gate."

On one side of the Bay lies San Francisco, a mighty city, one of the leading cities of the world, while on the other side, averaging a mile or so from the Bay runs the Contra Costa mountains, between the Contra Costa mountains and the Bay are several cities, such as Alameda, Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and others. Oakland has a population estimated at three hundred thousand, Berkeley ninety thousand, Richmond thirty thousand, and so on.

Theses cities, with San Francisco, are known as The Bay Cities. Great factories are to be found here, and great ships bring and carry their cargo.

The white churches of these cities have formed themselves into an organization known as "The Baptist Bay Cities Union." They have had complete control of Negro Churches. They have held deeds, collected the monies from them, paid their pastors and have had the say as to who these pastors should be.

This was the situation that the Rev. G. C. Coleman, D. D., found when he arrived in Oakland some twelve years ago. These were the forces that he had to battle to gain the religious freedom of his people, even against some of their wishes and against the wishes of all of the Negro preachers, but he had the courage to make the attempt.

 

THE BEGINNING OF A MIGHTY TASK.

 

The Rev. G. C. Coleman, D. D., arrived in the city of Oakland in the year 1913, in answer to the call of the North Oakland Baptist Church. Here he found a small, disorganized group. It was only a short while until he became fully acquainted with the situation, which did not appeal to him at all.

He set himself to the task of trying to persuade the Colored brethren to pull out from the whites and make history for themselves. All of his pleadings were in vain. He was called in council and the result was that the right hand of fellowship was withdrawn from him. He decided that he would not accept any assistance whatever from the White Board.

He then set himself to the task of building up the membership of his own congregation.

Everything that the mind of men could conceive was done against him, even some of those that were closet to him forsook him. His membership dwindled down to

 

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thirty-five. But he was determined to stay right here on the job. For seven long years he stood up and preached the gospel with his whole soul in every message, believing that if "Christ be lifted up," that he would "draw all men unto Him."

He succeeded in building up a large congregation, so large until they had to seek a new church home, large enough to house his congregation.

At the end of seven years he began to seek for others that believed in God and in themselves.

He found that orders had gone out from the Baptist headquarters, not to allow him in any of the pulpits in Northern California.

The Rev. S. T. Montgomery was pastoring the Second Baptist Church of Stockton at this time and the Rev. A. M. Machack was pastoring a small church at Pittsburg. He succeeded in getting these ministers and their churches to line up with him and his church and form an association among themselves.

This is the Notice he sent out:

 

A Call to the Negro Baptists of Northern California

Oakland, Calif., Sept. 22, 1920.

Greeting:

Dear Brethren and Sisters of Negro Baptist Churches in Northern California.

You are hereby requested to send your pastors and two delegates to meet with us on Thursday and Friday, October 14th and 15th, to organize a Missionary Baptist Association to affiliate with the California Baptist State Convention and the National Convention. We meet with the First Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, Rev. A. M. Machack, pastor, Pittsburg, California. Send your name to Rev. A. M. Machack, Pittsburg, California, who will provide amply for your accommodation.

We believe the time ripe for harmonious work in kingdom building among ourselves, and with God's help, while abusing none who choose to continue the work along lines not to our liking, we shall do what is in our minds. Come with us for God has promised good to those who come and serve Him according to His Will.

Respectively,

G. C. COLEMAN,

Pastor of the North Oakland Baptist Church,

S. MONTGOMERY,

Pastor Second Baptist Church of Stockton, Calif.

 

 

Page 18.

 

This is the Third Annual Address of Rev. G. C. Coleman, D. D., which really started thing to go:

 

"WHAT WE STAND FOR"

 

(Delivered October 18, 1922, in the North Oakland Baptist Church, to the Negro Baptist Association of Northern California).

Dear Brethren and Sisters:

The Lord has permitted us to meet in our Third Annual Session. He has blessed us with health and strength, and once more we can gather in the Lord's house and talk of His wonderful and ever-abounding mercy. We can see His handiwork all about us. He is our God and we are His children. It is our duty to reverently honor Him both with our time and money. The stagnation which has cursed the work of our church group in this section may be traced directly to the fact of non-reverence of Him and His law in this part of the moral Vineyard. Our people need an awakening, a coming-together in earnest prayer, remembering that the God of Abraham is the God of all the Earth today. And that nothing is too hard for Him to do for those of His children who have faith in Him. Let us not measure our faith in Him by the rule of others, but let us measure our faith by the rule as laid down in the Bible, which may be found in Matthew 7-7,8; "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened." To my mind, these words spoken by our Lord are so plain a fool can understand them. It does not take scholarship nor learning to ask for what one wants. Through God's Son, we are commanded to ask for what we want. It can not be said that the command as given in Matthew was for a certain group in force today. Only a living faith is needed. The means of grace today are sufficient all sufficient with Him. Can we exercise the faith? In the 37th Psalms we have the spiritual rule of 3:

"Trust in the Lord, and do good; so that thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

"Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

"Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and he shall bring it to pass. "

 

I contend that these words are meant as much for me as they were in the days of David, King of Israel. In the

 

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prosecution of the work of the Kingdom of God, we must keep His word in mind. We must keep it each and every one. It is not left for a select one or two, but for every member of the household of faith. This view I hold as true as the day-light that is about us. God has not given over the keeping of His word to a few, nor has he turned over the keeping of the Kingdom to one man or a certain set of men. No race can claim all of God's mercies. No nation has a mortgage on His love and protection. His mercies abound towards every living soul. His love is all-encompassing.

With these truths in our mind, we should go forth day by day, trying to do things that make for evident obedience in compliance to His will, fearing nothing nor anybody on the way. So that brings us to matters that call us together in this session of our Association. It goes without saying that we believe in God as the all-wise Supreme Being of the Universe. In this Association, we but accentuate this statement. It does not take great numbers to prove such a truth as the existence of our God. But we agree in union there is force, and so in the union of the churches here assembled we have that much added force to press this truth. So to bring ourselves to the front as staunch contenders for the faith in our Supreme Being, three years ago this Association was organized in Pittsburg, California, with messengers present from the North Oakland Baptist Church, the Second Baptist Church of Pittsburg, and one brother from Oroville, the Rev. E. W. D. Roberts. Time has not changed the determination of those who assembled in Pittsburg, though the growth has not been as rapid as some had hoped for or thought. But a gradual awakening and consequent growth is evident. We still have messengers here from these points and still others. Like the little, kicked-about and trodden acorn, a mighty oak may spring from the ground, at first tiny, but in years strong and sturdy.

The truth, once told, lives on; a falsehood with time dies. The underlying truth of this organization is, we believe God our Father will do for us whatever we ask Him to do without advice from any soul on earth. That brings us to the relation existing between the White and Colored Baptists of Northern California in the years gone by and with many holding on yet. You have heard it said that we are weak and need the assistance of the white brethren because they have all the money. That statement discounts

 

Page 20.

 

God Almighty and makes Him subservient to the whims of man. For we must please our white brother to have his assistance, which leaves God out of it. I contend that as a Baptist I am to exercise freedom of thought, of action and of work. That I must work as I see it and am able. If I can do nothing without the aid of somebody else who is a man like myself, then I depend not on that Supreme Being of whom I have heard but must depend on a man that I see. Such a doctrine undermines my faith, and faith without works is dead.

I do not decry help from a brother, but do draw the line on dictation and "bossism" even of a brother. If we are brothers, suggestions and friendly advice are both wanted and accepted, but it must be mutual. I am not against our white friends helping, but when their help ties my hands and disrupts my Christian work and thwarts my ideals, I would rather not have their help. That is to say, I would rather be poor and free to exercise the sovereignty of the Church than be rich, bound as a slave, to some one else who is free and exercises the sovereignty of his church. For be it remembered that "Baptists claim that a Christian Church is a congregation of baptized believers associated by mutual covenant, self governing and independent of all others; having no ecclesiastical connection with any others, though maintaining friendly and associational intercourse with all of like faith." Thus, when white Baptists say, Let me help you, and I will help you, but you must give the title of your property over to me to safeguard and hold it for you, the time has come for me to say No. For to give over the control of our Church property is to confess our weakness and ignorance of self-control. We lose our right for self government, the sovereignty of the Church dies, our religious freedom is gone, and the help that we might get from Heavens' God is thrown away. His word ceases to mean anything to us which has plainly told us, as I have shown you in Matthew's Gospel to ask for what we want. Our white brethren should not get angry with us because we take God's word as meaning something to us. It is true they should let us have money that they as God's stewards hold. They kept it for two hundred and fifty years, while our mothers and fathers toiled night and day and received only bread and scant clothing, while they enjoyed luxuries and were clothed in silk and fine raiment. Our people, in many cases, had on only one-piece of clothing to hide their nakedness. In rain and in sleet, they were making rich our white brethren. Certainly, they

 

Page 21.

 

owe us; and now, when all of us are free and would do the things becoming the children of our heavenly Father, they still would berate us because of the desire to do and be. But I thank God for the coming from the Southland of those of our Group who have learned in the bitter school of experience that God does help His children.

In the South, where ignorance and superstition have held sway, our folks have learned to built schools and churches that are a credit to them and their children, while in the North and West, where we are supposed to enjoy enlightenment and freedom, no schools and such little church buildings that only spell shame on us. While it is a fact that the States North and West give us ample opportunity for education, there is no opportunity for religious development, except we build our own churches.

There is something in our white brothers' religion that does not altogether tolerate a colored Christian getting too close to him at God's Throne of Mercy, in his church. Lots of our folks boast of the fact that they belong to some white church, but how much of the spiritual life do they enjoy? What sphere can they move in, in the social life of the community where they attend the white church to disseminate spiritual life and show themselves growing in grace and the knowledge of Christ? We know from experience, in every day conversation and walk, that we are not wanted in their church work and church conferences, especially if there be the least social contact. Why should we want to go where we are not wanted? We are content to live in our own homes, with our own families; why not be content to worship God in our own churches?

There are some of us so content. Few we are now; but as said before, there is an awakening, and our number will increase. Men, real men, strive to leave something behind that when they are dead and gone, those who live after them will praise their memory. And so, my brethren, let us arise and acquit ourselves as men. By first giving evidence of a living faith in God, and second by leaving our homes and churches free from the stranglehold of the wealth of the people who do not belong to our Race. I therefore close with these recommendations;

1. Each church be and is hereby requested to ask each of its members to lay aside one dollar per year to send up to our Annual Gathering for missions and educations, Missions Home and Foreign, and educational institutions in the South, where the majority of our youth must for a long time live and be trained:

 

Page 22.

 

2 That a Minister in this Association be asked to take the field as Missionary and travel over the entire northern section, visiting every point where our people live, and go from house to house talking self-help and reliance on God for all things; and that he be asked to prove his faith in God by taking as his pay what the people may give, and report to us every three months, in our Executive Board, what he has done, where he has been and what he received, and trust the Lord that we be able to assist him. No salary is therefore attached to this position, only a free-will offering.

Yours in Christ,

G. C. COLEMAN,

Moderator.

 

 

 

WALTER F. WATKINS.

 

The author of this little book, was born in the city of Houston, Texas, of Christian parents, and attended the public schools of his home city, as well as the high school. He spent eight years of his life studying theology, earning the degree of Doctor of Divinity. He would much rather be called "Brother" than "Doctor."

He was a successful business man until he entered the ministry. He ran away from God, refusing to preach as he despised the ministry to a certain extent. He set himself to the task of getting away from God, sailing the seas for six years, but God was there; went into the bowels of the earth two thousand feet deep, but God was there;

 

Page 23.

 

went everywhere he could think of trying to get away, until the one he loved, who was his wife for ten years, told him one day, that God was displeased with him and that she was going to leave him. He didn't quite understand her until she was taken sick, and he was sent for. After riding for three days and two nights he reached her bedside just before she died, in time to promise her that he would preach his way into the kingdom of God. She now waits his coming.

He was early trained in the Bible by his mother in the home, became the Superintendent of his Sunday School and the Clerk of his church, took an active part in the district work as a lecturer of the B. Y. P. U.

Began his Ministry in the State of Texas, became a successful pastor, lecturer and evangelist. His work has led him over several states as well as Mexico. Has ordained to the ministry one Mexican preacher and an Indian preacher.

Became identified with the Rev. G. C. Coleman, D. D., and The Negro Baptist Association in 1923, took an active part in the organization of The California Baptist State Convention, was its first General Missionary and the Chairman of the State Missionary Board. Editor of The California Missionary, Field Missionary of His Association. He loves his Moderator and those whom he serves and they say that he is fearless.

 

REV. GORDON C. COLEMAN, D. D.

 

Pastor of The North Oakland Baptist Church of Oakland, California; Moderator of The Negro Baptist Association of Northern California; Superintendent of Missions on the Pacific Coast; President of The California Baptist State Convention and The Second Vice President of The National Baptist Convention of America.

He was born in Scottsburg, Halifax county, Virginia. Attended the public schools of his home and at the age of seventeen years, entered The Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute at Petersburg. Taught school for three terms, resigned the profession and gave himself wholly to the ministry.

He was licensed to preach by his father, the Rev. Chas. S. Coleman. He was called to the pastorate of The White Oak Grove Baptist Church, one of the largest churches in that section of Virginia. Later he was called to the pastorate of The First Baptist Church of News Ferry, Va. He resigned the pastorate of this church to accept the pastorate of The Twenty-Second Street Baptist Church of

 

Page 24.

 

Manchester, in order that he might take a further course in theology at the Richmond Theological Seminary. He did the work of a pastor and proved himself a hard student which proved itself in his class standing in Greek and Hebrew.

Soon after his graduation, with the degree of Bachelor of Divinity from The Union University, (The result of the uniting of Richmond Theological Seminary and Wayland Seminary of Washington, D. C.), he was elected General missionary by the Virginia Baptist State Convention, and traveled over The District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. As a direct result of his labor the first ten thousand dollars raised in the State Convention for The Virginia Theological Seminary at Lynchburg was reported at Bedford City. He later accepted the pastorate of The First Baptist Church of Steelton, Pa. Here he labored for four years, his ministry having attracted the attention of larger fields, and in 1904 he was called to pastorate of The Mount Carmel Baptist Church of Philadelphia, Pa. His success here was great and he succeeded in laying the foundation for a mighty church. In 1905, the leading Negro Baptist College, owned and controlled entirely by Colored Baptists at Seguin, Texas, conferred the honor of Doctor of Divinity upon him.

In 1913, he was called to the North Oakland Baptist Church, of Oakland, California, by strenuous efforts he has built up a very large membership, consisting of some of Oakland's most representative citizens and taxpayers.

Five years ago he organized The Negro Baptist Association of Northern California, and One Year ago The California Baptist State Convention, of which he is the President, was organized.

Known in the West as "The Iron Man" for he has stood every test that a man could be put to.

 

REV. JOHN H. MOORE.

 

Rev. Moore, comes from The Lone Star State, and like The Moderator, he takes no orders accept they come from heaven and heaven's God.

He began his ministry in the State of Arizona, and became located in the beautiful city of Tucson, Arizona.

He organized The Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist church of Oakland, California.

He is the Vice-Moderator of the Association and was the first president of The District Sunday School Convention.

 

Page 25.

 

He played an active part in the organizing of The California Baptist State Convention and its Auxiliaries, and became The First Vice President of The State Sunday School Convention.

He has succeeded in building up a large membership in spite of great opposition and the odds that were against him. His church is fully organized and they are making a strenuous effort to secure a church home.

Rev. John H. Moore is a spiritual preacher of ability and sings with feeling and power.

He doesn't believe in letting any opportunity slip by.

He is known as "The Battle Axe," because he has cut his way through opposition and has made his presence felt in the Bay Cities.

 

REV. HENRY HOLMES.

 

Pastor of The North Richmond Baptist Church of Richmond, California. Born in and began his ministry in the State of Louisiana. He was licensed to preach the Gospel by his home Church.

The Spirit led him to the West, where he became a member of the North Oakland Baptist Church of Oakland, Calif.

 

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When the North Richmond Baptist Church was organized four years ago, the Church called him as their pastor, and ordered his ordination. He was ordained and set apart for the ministry by the Rev. G. C. Coleman, D. D.

Great pressure was brought to bear upon him to "sell out" to the white board, but he stuck fast by the Negro Baptist Association. He has succeeded in building up a commendable membership and has constructed a church building that is a credit to the city as well as to Baptists and the Race.

Rev. Holmes is a gospel preacher, and singer. He is the treasurer of The Negro Baptist Association.

 

MR. CAL WILLIAMS.

 

Brother "Cal" Williams is not a minister but he is a minister's friend.

Has been in the North Oakland Baptist Church for many years. Is now the chairman of the deacon board, corresponding secretary of the Association, and the treasurer of The State Convention.

Stands high in the business circles of Berkeley and Oakland, a large tax payer and a trusted post office employee of Berkeley.

His very life is devoted to his church and its activities.

 

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Rain or shine he is always at his post. Everybody loves "Brother Cal."

Of a generous heart and a kindly disposition and a devoted servant of Christ and His cause, he is known all over the district as "Brother Cal."

 

REV. JAS. E. MOORE.

 

This "nervy" little preacher hails from the state of Texas.

Came to the West some years ago and became identified with the North Oakland Baptist Church of Oakland. He was one of the Trustees of said church.

He did well in the real estate business but the desire to preach caused him to give up his business and seek the ministry. He became a member of The Mt. Zion Baptist Church and was licensed to preach by his brother, the Rev. John H. Moore.

At the suggestion of Dr. G. C. Coleman he went to San Francisco, California, to begin his ministry.

To the mind of the writer, this was a true test of his faith in God. For few ministers would attempt to start from the ground up in San Francisco, when once they become acquainted with conditions.

 

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But this young man went over there and gathered a few christians that believe in themselves as a race and had faith in Almighty God, and a church was organized, who ordered his ordination. He was ordained and set apart for the work in the Annual Session of The Negro Baptist Association held in the City of Oakland, October, 1924.

He has suffered very much, sometimes there were no provisions in his home and he has gone often without even his meals, but he has always been found at his post. From a prosperous business man, with a lovely home and a nice automobile, which he has had to give up, he has become a trusting minister of our Lord and Savior.

If one is anxious to help the missionary cause, you will find this the right place to make a contribution.

Rev. Jas. E. Moore, before he entered the ministry was commissioned by The National Body to be an organizer of The Laymen League as such he was ever on the job.

 

THE MT. ZION CHURCH OF BAKERSFIELD.

 

It was in July of 1924, that the Moderator and the Missionary, (Coleman and Watkins), an unbeatable team, put their heads together and decided to win over this great church from the whites.

It should be stated here that we have always played fair, for we have never as yet split a church, we won't say that we won't, because if that becomes necessary, we may.

I had often told the Moderator that no matter how tight the lid was on in a town, if we could only find one man that would think as we thought, why we would win that church, regardless of the opposition, and I do love a fight, especially if there is a chance to win.

 

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Now the Moderator very often would try his missionary, and would use the word "if" and "but," but I gave him to understand that we don't compromise in the least and that we never try for second place, this seemed to please him, for this was his make-up exactly.

The State Sunday School Congress was holding its first annual session at this time in Los Angeles, and the Rev. Henry Allen Boyd's name appeared on the program. Now this was enough to attract the attention of all of our group. To be frank about it, they didn't care any more about Henry Allen Boyd (I mean the old timers), but they did want to see Dr. R. H. Boyd's son. They realized that the mantle of the father had fallen upon the son and they wanted to shake his hand and to tell him what a great man his father was, and Dr. H. A. Boyd know well that he has very few equals and too we well know that he had and now has the advantage of his father.

Because of railroad fare being so high, and as we wanted to carry from the North a large delegation, we enlisted the services of several automobiles as we could make the trip much cheaper.

There are three highways from Oakland to Los Angeles, but we choose the "Ridge route," This took us through the heart of the great San Joaquin Valley.

Dr. Coleman believes in stopping along the way, I believe in getting to the place where I am going. So I led the way, leaving Oakland in the morning, and that evening I was in Los Angeles, while Dr. Coleman spent the evening at Bakersfield and the next day drove into Los Angeles.

When we met in Los Angeles, he and I had a conference together. He said that we must have the church in Bakersfield. I asked him what did he know; he said that he hadn't found a man but he did find one woman that thought as we did and that she at one time was a member of his church in Oakland, to use his own expression, I said, "now, that's just fine."

Now, we didn't have a ghost of a chance to preach in that church, and had we tried why we surely would have messed up things.

He gave me such information as he had gathered, and the name and address of the lady in question.

I made several trips to Bakersfield, I was careful to go at night and to leave before day, so that they would never know that I had been there.

 

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The first thing that had to be done was to get rid of the pastor, who happened, to be the Moderator of their association, but that didn't matter about how big he was, for he would fall that much harder. Now please don't think hard of us for undermining a pastor, as this was only a hireling.

The time came when he realized that something was going wrong, he became in possession of the knowledge that at the next business meeting of the church that he would be asked to resign. Of course he wanted to stay, who wouldn't, (I mean a cheap hireling like him)?

He went among his members and did all that a man could do to hold on. For he had the biggest thing in the Valley. He was getting sixty-five dollars from the colored brethren and twenty-five dollars from the whites, so ninety dollars was a big salary for him.

The business meeting night arrived and a motion prevailed that the pulpit be declared vacant, only nine votes were cast in his favor.

Now the news spread far and wide that he was out, but no one knew why. The colored paper that carried their news and also received support from the whites, told of how great he was, and of how the people regretted to see him go.

We were awful busy about this time, we tried hard to get Dr. H. B. Southern of Texas to come this way, but we failed to do so. I knew that we didn't have a chance, but we had to have this church, that was all.

We had a certain minister to write to him, we told him just how to do but, our plans miscarried and they laid his letter on the table, and one brother remarked, "and its going to stay there." He said that he knew who was at the bottom of it all now.

You see the mistake I made right here was, that I had my sister to distribute several copies of The Union-Review as well as The California Missionary.

But we got right close up to the situation, we declared that we couldn't afford to lose now. Well by this time I was eating and almost sleeping at the moderator's home by now. He said, "well I guess you'll have to take that church yourself." Now he must have been joking, but I was serious.

Dr. F. O. Brown, the State Evangelist, up to this time had never been in the Northern section of the state; therefore he was unknown. He and I always kept in close touch with each other. He happened to be in Douglass, Arizona at this time and his wife was sick at their home

 

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in San Diego, California. I got in touch with Brown, right now, told him the whole story, and just what I wanted him to do. He agreed to it all, only he wanted to go by and see his wife before he came. Now this was awful, but I couldn't say anything because if my wife was sick, well you know how it would be.

But we had some one else to arrange a great big affair at a hall, and it was to be for three days and would wind up with a sermon on the following Sunday morning. Now we are working fine, everything is well oiled up. This affair was arranged for the benefit of the American Legion. I was to preach that Sunday morning at the hall. I wrote at the last minute and told my brother that it would simply be impossible for me to come, but there was a Rev. F. O. Brown that happened to be idle at that time and I had asked him to come to them in my stead. This worked fine. Dr. Brown went, he preached at the hall that morning, the Baptists liked Brown, they invited him to preach at their church that night, he did, they asked him to preach every night during the week, he did. They called the Rev. F. O. Brown, D. D., of Texas, and he accepted.

I was some happy man, it is easier to tell it than it was done. But the fight was not over yet.

The time for the annual session of the State Convention had rolled around, so Dr. Brown informed them just where he stood, so the church delegated one of the deacons, a splendid young man, Brother Philips, to come to the convention and see and hear and report back to them what we were doing. He did. We were so very happy to have him. But there were others present also from other places doing the same thing and we happened to know it.

At the next business meeting of the church, Deacon Philips made his report. But in the meantime letters began to arrive in Bakersfield and they were read at the business meetings. Just one extract from one of these letters should give the reader an idea of how serious the fight was. "We are surprised at the church calling this man as their pastor without our Missionary and our Board first investigating him and his record. Now don't let this man lead you into another Association, but make him follow you, and you stand by your Association."

Dr. Brown answered the brother's letter before the church did and he told him a few things that will stay on his mind until they meet over yonder. Dr. Brown put this question up to the church, "decide tonight where you are going to stand, decide tonight once for always, what association you are going to connect with." They did and there was only one vote against us.

 

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They furnish Dr. Brown a five room house, pay the water, light, gas and telephone bills and pay him one hundred dollars per month. Yes, there is a difference between a hireling and a real man.

And Dr. Brown is a great preacher and he has but very few equals.

Since then the Missionary has preached there, and then came one of happy moments of Dr. Coleman's life when he paid them a visit and how they did crowd the church and hung upon every word that he said.

Then our own, Sister M. C. Williams, National Field Secretary of the Women's Auxuliary of The national Baptist Convention paid them a visit, but they wouldn't let her leave until they had a big reception for her.

They are all happy and so are we.

Open your ears and hear the CRY OF THE WEST.

The fight is on in Northern California.

 

OROVILLE.

 

I had been elected as the State Missionary of The State Convention, and had just packed my grip to go into the Southern part of the State, and just as I was bidding my wife good bye, a special delivery came to me, urging me to come at once to Oroville, if I wanted to save our church and keep it in our association.

Now this was no time to lose any churches, when I was doing my best to win churches, so I changed my plans and caught the next train out for Oroville.

Here I found four of the hirelings of the white man on the job, telling our folks what the White Board would do for them. Now I love the people of Oroville and I feel that they love me, the only trouble is with them is the missionary doesn't come to see them often enough.

We stayed there one whole week, wore out a pair of shoes walking over that town. They had no pastor at that time. Now there are two Baptist churches at this place, one on our side and the other connected with the White Board. We succeeded in getting things back in order.

Now, I said to the Moderator, "we'll have to get a pastor for that church." So we succeeded in getting the Rev. J. D. Wright of New Orleans to come out here at a great sacrifice, it is nothing like where he came from, but we hope to be able with some assistance to make it pleasant for him.

After this we set about to win the other church, so after the resignation of their pastor and after some of our own members had joined that church, they called the Rev. B. A. Ashley, of Huntsville, Texas, for their pastor, and

 

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the first thing Brother Ashley did was to have a conference with our Missionary and the plans were laid. They, too, voted out from under the White Board and only one vote against it.

 

VALLEJO.

 

The Moderator says to me one day, "well where will you be on Sunday?" I replied, "I expect to be in Vallejo." He asked, "and what for." I replied, "well, I have never been in Vallejo, and I'd like mighty well to go and see for myself, and perhaps there might be a chance." He said, "Now that's just fine, here is the name of a member of that church that used to belong to my church, may God bless you." And I went.

I found the church, sat in the Sunday School, and sure enough the minister invited me to sit in the pulpit, and after the sermon, he asked me to have just a word, and then he introduced me as, "The Rev. Coleman's missionary."

I always try to find some excuse for being where I am not wanted, so I had several copies of The California Missionary with me, so I began by saying that I had never been in Vallejo before, and I had heard so much about it until I simply wanted to come and see for myself and to worship with them, and I told them of course how much I appreciated the splendid sermon that the pastor had just preached. I offered them a few copies of the Missionary and I took great pains in telling them what it was and what it wasn't and asked them to take it home and read it and if they wanted it why I'd be very glad to have them subscribe for it at only fifty cents a year. The pastor told me to go right ahead and say right on. But he didn't know what I was going to say. So I said now folks, it is no secret to you as to who I am, you have heard of me, and so you know just where I stand on this association question and I know your position.

Then I began to talk some about Negro history, Douglass, Cuney, etc., and I drifted on down to R. H. Boyd, then came as far down as G. C. Coleman, went back to the Southland where I came from and where we really have churches and splendid preachers and when I did get warmed up, I knew it was too late then for that pastor to stop me. Some of those strong men rose up and said, "Yes, and we stand with you, and you go back and tell Dr. Coleman that we are with him." I did. And they proved their statement, by voting out from under the White Board at their next business meeting.

 

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Of course that pastor lost his job, but the White Board didn't feel disposed to let them get out from under them so easy as that.

The Church had bought a lot for five hundred and fifty dollars, and after paying for it they had fifty dollars in the bank. Later they saw a better place that had some houses on it, and they made an effort to get it. The owner told them that if they gave him five hundred and fifty dollars cash and their lot that he would let them have it, but they must act at once.

They secured from the Home Mission Board of New York through the Baptist Headquarters at San Francisco, a loan of two hundred dollars, known as a gift loan, and the Board also gave them two hundred dollars, keep in mind that this was a gift.

Now the Church had out-grown its quarters, so they put forth an effort and raised four thousand dollars with which to start building a new church. Before building they did a little investigating and found that the deeds were in the name of a white preacher and his wife.

They got in touch with the Headquarters but no satisfactory answer was given them, then they got in touch with the Board at New York who referred their letter to Baptist Headquarters in San Francisco.

They paid the two hundred dollars back that was loaned them with interest, yet the deeds were not released to them. They offered to pay the two hundred dollars that was given them but the White Brother refused to accept it and in a business meeting he told them, "you can't buy me." But they replied, "we are not trying to buy you, we are trying to get our deeds."

The white brother made this proposition to them, "let a council be called, here is a list of thirty-seven churches. Now you select six and I will select six and whatever the decision of that council may be, we'll abide by that."

But he wasn't so wise as that for those colored brethren said, "no, for they are all your own churches, but this is what we will do, you select six of your own churches and we will select six churches out of the Negro Baptist Association and we will abide by their decision, whatever it may be."

They have gone to court over the matter, and the four thousand dollars are tied up in the bank by orders of the court. But regardless of the court's decision The Second Baptist Church is ours and our own Rev. F. E. Tisdale of Wharton, Texas, is on the job there.

We need help to fight the battle out here in the west.

 

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We have hoisted the old banner of The National Baptist Convention of America up in the breeze and we don't intend to haul it down until God say, enough, come in.

 

A BIT OF NEGRO HISTORYTHOSE THAT MADE GOOD.

 

Let us take a peep behind the curtain that the other race has put up behind the noble deeds of the great men and women of our race, to hide them from the public's eye.

There was Fred Douglas, around whose life, Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, wrote, "The Uncle Tom's Log Cabin." He was born a slave, stole his education without an instructor. He became an orator, editor and statesman.

Listen to the words of Alexander Dumas, "When I discovered that I was black, I determined to study and live as though I was white, and so force the world to look beneath my skin." The Bible is the only book that is read more than the Works of Dumas.

Prejudice against her race and sex did not stop the colored girl, Edmonia Lewis from upwards to honor and fame as a sculptor.

A poor colored woman, who lived in a log cabin, had three sons, she wasn't able to buy but one pair of pants, but she was determined to give them an education, so they took turns in going to school. One became a professor in a prominent college, another a physician and the other a Gospel minister.

When General Grant took Richmond and won the war, he had thirty thousand Negro soldiers behind his back.

General Jackson in the battle of New Orleans had five hundred Negro soldiers with him.

In making his report, dated January first, 1813, Commander Shaler has this to say: "The name of one of my poor fellows who was killed, ought to be registered in the book of fame, and remembered with reverence, as long as bravery is a virtue. He was a black man by the name of John Johnson, a twenty-four pound shell struck him in the hip and tore away all of the lower part of his body, and in this state the poor brave fellow lay on deck and several times exclaimed to his ship-mates, fire away boys, don't haul the colors down!"

Chrispus Attucks was the first to fall for this county's freedom.

In all there were sixty thousand Negroes that fought in the battles for this country's freedom.

It was Caleb , a black scout, who discovered the

 

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British pass word and was the cause of this country defeating the British.

Peter Salem when the American forces were routed with great slaughter at Bunker Hill, dashed into the thickest of the enemy and shot the British Officer, General Pitcairn dead, as he was to demand the surrender of the Americans.

It was Prince Whipple who captured the British General Prescott.

There were Samuel Charlton and James Armstead and a mighty host of others.

It was a Negro that discovered the state of Arizona.

A Maryland Negro invented the cotton gin.

Granville Woods invented the transmitter used in the telephones today.

Twenty-two Negro senators and congressmen; two lieutenant governors, recorders of deeds, ministers to foreign countries, consuls, judges, registers of treasure, collectors of customs, etc., proves the Negro has made good in politics.

Liberia in West Africa and Haiti in the West Indies, organized and controlled by Negroes, are the only countries in the world, that have never had a revolution nor been invaded by any other country.

There are others, Kelly, DuBois, Langston, Cuney, Dunbar and Washington.

Dr. Wm. Scarborough, who graduated from Oberlin College, and was professor of Greek and the Classics in Wilberforce University. He made the world recognize him as an authority in Greek, Gothic and Sanscript languages. He is the author of the Greek text book, that is used in Yale today.

When R. B. Elliott, that famous Negro lawyer, had finished his speech in answer to Alexander H. Stephen in the forty-second congress on the slave question, Stephen said, "If I could speak like that Negro, I wouldn't mind being black."

It was R. H. Boyd, a Texas Negro preacher, that sold and mortgaged all that he owned and started a small publishing house in Nashville, that today is appraised at a million dollars and employs hundreds of Negro men and women.

It was G. C. Coleman, a Negro minister of Virginia, that left all behind him and crossed the Rocky Mountains, and dared to unfurl to the breeze the untrampled banner of The National Baptist Convention of America, Un-incorporated, out in the far west.

 

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The Negro has been an asset to this country. Yes, you may tell the world that the Negro has helped to make this country. He has contributed his mite to education, to the church, to charity, to the wealth of the nation and though he has missed the dividends he stands ready for the next assessment just the same.

He has given freely of his blood to keep America free. Yes, he has helped to make America and its history. The negro has gone into the forest with an axe for his sceptre, and he has caused the trees to fall in obesiance to him. He has gone into the swamps of Louisiana and has caused the cane to yield its syrup and sugar. He has combed the Texas prairies until the corn has shown its teeth. He has tickled the soil of the southern states causing the cotton to start the hum of machinery in Massachusetts. And there is no part of this country that is free from his labor. And many of the inventions are of his thoughts.

It was the Negro that gave to the south its free public school system, and on the books laws.

It seems strange that during the late war, that only two Negroes were singled out as heroes, they were all heroes, and not only in the late war, but in all of the wars, from Washington down to Pershing.

 

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA A LAND OF OPPORTUNITY.

 

While sitting in my office, I looked towards the East, out towards the Contra Costa Mountains, and I saw the great University of California, where some twelve thousand students from all parts of the world were taught this year and who just graduated some two thousand, two hundred young men and women of all races this year.

Then I look towards the west over the San Francisco Bay, and there in the channel of water that separates San Francisco from other mainland., I saw a beautiful sight, it was evening and the sun was going down, and it looked as if, the sun was resting right in the channel of Water, and I thought, of the beautiful golden gate, through which the people of the earth had passed through, seeking the land of opportunity. And I wondered, if I couldn't have my office, to act as a force to direct my people, to the part of California that would be best for them, should they choose to come this way. Our Field Missionary is well informed as to the true conditions, the price of land, and the kind of fruit and vegetation that can be raised. He knows the warm and cool sections, and knows just where one ought to locate.

Grapeland, cherries, prunes, apricots, oranges, lemons,

 

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berries, hay, grain, cotton, plums, peaches and all kinds of fruit can be raised here, and vegetables are raised all the year round, for there is no waiting for the seasons nor rains, as four crops are raised during the year. We don't depend on rain, for we irrigate. Of course rain must furnish the water, but the great reservoirs catch the rain and hold the water in the mountains and it is released as needed.

Many of our race are here, and are doing well. But there should be a directing office, to protect our race from the land sharks and the real estate thieves. For once you land in the cities, one is almost helpless, and only learns when it is indeed too late.

Should our pastors ascertain from those of their congregation, their desires, before coming west, and refer them to this office, we would be happy to direct them, to the place that is best suitable for them. Whether a home in the city is desired, a farm or ranch, or a business location, we will assist them all that we can, and will consider it a pleasure.

No part of California is really in the "country," because all of the highways of California are paved, and there is a gas and electricity in all of the homes, whether in the cities or rural districts.

There is no segregation, no jim crow laws.

Again our pastors should direct their members as to the church that they should become members of, so many of our members of our convention have joined the churches of the other convention, because they did not know. This office will be pleased to furnish any pastor with a list of our churches throughout the state, their location and their pastor's address. We will do more than that, any of our pastors will be glad to visit and render any service that is possible, to any of our members that come to stay or that may be merely visiting.

The pastors and churches throughout the country can help us to build up our work out here in the west if they will do these simple things.

When a member tells you that he or she is going to California, just hand him or her our pastor's address of the place where they intend to go, and have them look him up in the phone book or inquire of him, and he will be happy to serve them.

 

G. C. COLEMAN D. D.

 

Dr. Coleman, is now before us, and we may see him as he is and as he reveals himself in his work.

 

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He impresses us as a man whose manhood is pure.

He is self-possessed. He is temperate.

He has the power of carrying with him all details.

He is prompt, filling each day with the duties of the day.

He is a man of deeds, not words.

He gives us a life, by which to know him. A life full to the overflowing with works. A life full of pathetic gravity and seriousness, which come from a sense of duty and from seeing and dealing with great problems, and from carrying the burdens of his race.

His life is a continued exhibit of unselfishness.

His life is an eloquent and effective oration on liberty.

Its his character that makes him great.

The genius of character! That is the greatest power in the universe.

It is his character that holds for him the attachment of a loyal set of ministers and followers.

Unless a man have love, and devotion, and self-sacrifice, and self-control, and honesty, and truthfulness, and manliness, he is lacking in the very pith and beauty of manhood; he is not a great man, no matter what else he may have. He is not a great being. His intellect must not overtop his character.

The genius of character! There is no power like that.

That is the power possessed by G. C. Coleman.

It is that which gives him his clear and unerring insight into things. It is that which has crowned him and the cause which he undertook, and with which he has served with success. It is that which carries the blessings of Almighty God with it.

Free thought, free speech, free school, a free ballot, a free press; these are his ideals, and he insists on standing for the defense of these.

As we review the history of the world, we see it dividing itself into three stages.

In the first, Power is magnified; Force is deified. The great man is the strong man; in that era Nimrod is the hero after the world's heart. Strength receives the homage of many.

In the second, Power is pushed a step or two back and intellect comes to the front. The great man is the intellectual man. In that era Homer is the favored idol before whom the populace delight to bow. Genius receives the homage of man.

Christianity has inaugurated the third stage. In this era it pointed, not to Nimrod, not to Homer, but to Christ,

 

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who goes about doing good. Ever after this it is not Power; it is not Genius; but Goodness.

The great man of today must be a good man. And G. C. Coleman is a good man.

The heart of a boy, responds in admiration of David slaying Goliath. Power. Caesar leading the Tenth Legion. Power. Napoleon at the head of the old guard. Power. The young man reads in admiration, Shakespeare creating his wonderful characters. Genius. Macaulay writing his great history. Genius. Goethe throwing off the marvelous products of his pen. Genius.

But what calls out admiration from the heart of the matured man? John Howard at work among the rocking prisons. Goodness. Livingstone in the heart of the dark continnent (sic), struggling for the elevation of Africa. Goodness. Abraham Lincoln writing the Emancipation Proclamation. Goodness. G. C. Coleman, struggling for the religious freedom of negro Baptists in California. Goodness.

Dr. Coleman, is a man of honor. He has a genius for organizing. He is quick to perceive, and inflexible in carrying out what he has cautiously planned.

Dr. Coleman, has always been sure of the justice of his cause. Many denounced him, and his days were embittered, but he kept true to the Cause. If we are on God's side, the side of truth and honor, we need not care what men may say against us. Slipping and falling, we are sure of the goal if we keep struggling onwards and upwards. As the Lord called to Moses, so He called Coleman to lead his people in California.

If we were out on the ocean, aboard a great ship, and if there were nothing to be seen but the sky and the sea, it would appear as if the ship was standing still, but should we pass down into the engine room and see those great engines at work, it would be at once decided that the old ship was traveling at great speed. So its is with Dr. Coleman and The Negro Baptist Association of Northern California, at first it appeared that no progress was being made, but today men and women realize that we are making wonderful history.

 

 




Transcribed by: Jeanne Sturgis Taylor.

Proofread by Betty Vickroy.


2008 Jeanne Sturgis Taylor.



 

 

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