I mentioned here on TLP several weeks back that I officiated at the funeral of my mother back in February, breaking quite a few of the usual rules for preachers doing funerals, the most obvious of which is that you have someone else do the funeral. In that particular post, I left it at that, for believe it or not, I try very hard not to make these posts about me, preferring to make them about Him instead. I also usually avoid writing here about my views on current events, politics and social issues, and when I do share these thoughts, I clearly label them as Opinion pieces. Mob Rule and the Destruction of History will be an Opinion piece and will post tomorrow. This Prologue is a story that is part of my family history that I am sharing with you today so that you can better understand where I will be coming from in the main piece tomorrow and with that said, let’s get started.
At the funeral last February, just a short time before the whole COVID crisis burst upon us, I looked out at those who had come to my Mom’s funeral, and saw the largest gathering of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren that is ever likely to be in one place at the same time, since they live all over the country. This was my only chance to tell them all about the legacy she had left for them, for you see, my mother had a secret, a secret that I was forbidden to share during her lifetime; my sister didn’t even know about it. Her secret was such that certain things would make her very emotional and irrational, like a PTSD trigger might do, so she only spoke openly about it to me once, when I was about 13 and, unable to continue, told me to ask my Grandfather about it, which I did the next time I saw him. Here is the briefest of thumbnails of what he told me…
My Mom was born in a small West Texas oil boom town in 1923, where she lived until moving away right after graduating High School in June of 1940. As is usually the case with boom towns, there were a great many single young men from other areas living there, having come to work in the oil fields, with much the same atmosphere as a Wild West mining town. As was the case throughout the states of the old Confederacy, Texas was solidly Democratic, part of the old “Solid South”. My Grandfather, however, never once mentioned party labels when speaking with me, instead using the label “Party of Lincoln” and “Party of Slavery, Segregation, Jim Crow and the Klan”. He, and member of the Party of Lincoln, was a small businessman all of his working life, and in those days he had a small oil business that included 3 service stations and several gasoline trucks that loaded up with gasoline at nearby refineries to supply his stations and to supply other independent service stations in the surrounding counties. Yet there was a problem with this, for there was a shortage of good labor caused by the demands of the oil fields. Even so, my Grandfather never went short of good help, because the oil fields were mostly “White Only” − there were plenty of highly competent black men to drive his trucks.
That is where the problems really began, because my Grandfather paid “White Man’s Wages” to black men, because he believed that was the right thing to do. The Party of Jim Crow was not going to take this lightly…
Aside: If you aren’t familiar with the history of time and place, the 1920’s and 30’s was the high-water mark of Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan, not to mention lynching.
As a result, my Grandfather and his family were labeled “N…..lovers” and were shunned by the white community who feared the mob, which in this case, was the KKK.
It’s important to note however, that my Grandfather was not the only one in the area who was a member of the Party of Lincoln, and as a result of circumstances and necessity, they came to form a small resistance to the KKK, with food and other necessities, money and all too often armed force− this was not a pretty time.
The Party of Slavery came calling to my Grandfather’s house one night in 1933 or ’34, mostly drunk in their ridiculous costumes and very brave masks. My Grandmother was ordered to take the 5 children to the cellar as my Grandfather loaded his guns. My Mom, always a bit incorrigible, crept into the front room of the house unnoticed just in time to see her father on the front porch engaging the mob in conversation. It seems that an easily recognizable voice, brave behind his mask, indicated that their intention was to burn down the house and kill the entire family. Upon hearing this cheerful news, my Grandfather lowered his weapon directly at the man and asked him if he was going to be the first to try it…
After a sufficient number of profane threats, the highly courageous mob made its way home. Apparently, this scene was repeated from time to time at various homes.
On another occasion in this general time frame, my Mom was walking down a country lane early on a Sunday morning and stumbled upon a man hanging from a tree who had been lynched the night before.
These are the two events that she never got over, and to her dying day, she would lose it whenever she saw a member of the Party of Slavery, Segregation, Jim Crow and the Klan on television lecturing us on Civil Rights and calling everyone else “racist”. If I’m entirely honest, it kind of makes me crazy as well, and is one of the reasons I spent many years of my life in politics opposing the Party of Shameless Hypocrisy. For her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, several of whom are “of color” I think that what my Grandfather and others did is a legacy to be proud of and to carry on in their lives.
I ended the funeral service by posing the following challenge to the young family members present:
Knowing what you now know about the legacy you have been given, what are you going to do about it?
As people began to leave the service a young nurse of 30 or so from the nursing home came up to me and said, “Are you trying to tell me that Lincoln wasn’t a Democrat?”