Edge of Faith March 2017 - Page 25

American Dream. Others desired a Moses to lead them through the wilderness of racial violence and unrest. A few sought Canaans outside of the South, reigniting the migration debate. Indeed, so many African Americans heeded the call of activists to migrate that they were called “Exodusters.” By the end of the 19th century, an array of authors had created a diverse collection of Afro-Atlantic Exodus stories to address their people's needs with varying success. Frederick Douglass’s death in 1895 precipitated the search for a new Exodus leader about the time Ida B. Wells was launching her anti-lynching campaign, Booker T. Washington was giving his compromise speech at the Atlanta Cotton Exposition, and W. E. B. Du Bois was launching his career by publishing The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (1899). While Wells emerged as an influential activist, Washington was heralded as black America’s new Moses by American newspapers. Du Bois complicated Washington’s ascendency to national race leader, however, by urging his rival to become a Joshua in The Souls of Black Folk (1903). Du Bois asserts: “So far as Mr. Washington preaches Thrift, Patience, and Industrial Training for the masses, we must hold up his hands and strive with him, rejoicing in his honors and glorying in the strength of this Joshua called of God and of man to lead the headless host” (27). If Washington refused to demand citizenship rights, Du Bois urged black folk to reject his leadership, for Washington would be leading them back into an American wilderness of oppression and inequality.

Afro-Atlantic people’s repeated embrace of Exodus to advance their racial uplift strategies reflects the power of the biblical story to sustain a struggle. Hundreds of years after Phillis Wheatley evoked Exodus to demand liberty for enslaved Africans, presidential candidate Barack Obama called for a Joshua generation in 2007 to complete the work of the Moses Generation in the civil rights movement to make America a promised land for all. In uncertain times when their human rights were nonexistent or threatened, Afro-Atlantic people claimed Exodus as the assurance of the eventual fulfillment of their deepest yearnings.

race leader, however, by urging his rival to become a Joshua in The Souls of Black Folk (1903). Du Bois asserts: “So far as Mr. Washington preaches Thrift, Patience, and Industrial Training for the masses, we must hold up his hands and strive with him, rejoicing in his honors and glorying in the strength of this Joshua called of God and of man to lead the headless host” (27). If Washington refused to demand citizenship rights, Du Bois urged black folk to reject his leadership, for Washington would be leading them back into an American wilderness of oppression and inequality.

Afro-Atlantic people’s repeated embrace of Exodus to advance their racial uplift strategies reflects the power of the biblical story to sustain a struggle. Hundreds of years after Phillis Wheatley evoked Exodus to demand liberty for enslaved Africans, presidential candidate Barack Obama called for a Joshua generation in 2007 to complete the work of the Moses Generation in the civil rights movement to make America a promised land for all. In uncertain times when their human rights were nonexistent or threatened, Afro-Atlantic people claimed Exodus as the assurance of the eventual fulfillment of their deepest yearnings.

fro-Atlantic people’s repeated embrace of Exodus to advance their racial uplift strategies reflects the power of the biblical story to sustain a struggle. Hundreds of years after Phillis Wheatley evoked Exodus to demand liberty for enslaved Africans, presidential candidate Barack Obama called for a Joshua generation in 2007 to complete the work of the Moses Generation in the civil rights movement to make America a promised land for all. In uncertain times when their human rights were nonexistent or threatened, Afro-Atlantic people claimed Exodus as the assurance of the eventual fulfillment of their deepest yearnings.

A

story to sustain a struggle. Hundreds of years after Phillis Wheatley evoked Exodus to demand liberty for enslaved Africans, presidential candidate Barack Obama called for a Joshua generation in 2007 to complete the work of the Moses Generation in the civil rights movement to make America a promised land for all. In uncertain times when their human rights were nonexistent or threatened, Afro-Atlantic people claimed Exodus as the assurance of the eventual fulfillment of their deepest yearnings.

Frederick Douglas