The Scourging of a Race and Other Sermons and Addresses

Washington DC: Beresford, 1904. viii,228pp., plus photographic portrait frontispiece. Publisher's maroon cloth, gilt spine titles. Small chip at spine head, minor edge wear. Clean internally. A tight, square copy. Very good. Item #3938

The rare first edition of W. Bishop Johnson's excellent collection of twenty-six orations delivered by the African-American Baptist minister from the 1880s to the early 20th century. One of Johnson's recurring themes is that while white people and institutions must reform their racist positions, African Americans must also follow God's path more closely. He writes: "The clergy of the other race can never make me feel that they are friends of the Negro, until they thunder against lynch-law, against the inhumanity, the barbarism of roasting God's handiwork alive.... There is [also] a dreadful responsibility upon the Negro ministry. We must insist upon it that there be a reform in the morality of our people."

Interestingly, for most of the piece included here, Johnson includes the location, date, and circumstances under which the sermons, papers, addresses, and essays were first delivered to an audience. Not all of the essays in the present collection are religious in nature, either. For example, two are concerned with the history of African American service in the military: "Robert G. Shaw," and "The Negro in War and Peace."  Another focuses on "Citizenship, Suffrage and the Negro," while another concerns "The Religious and Secular Press Compared." Finally, in his essay entitled "National Perils," Johnson enumerates the modern challenges to African American success in the country, which include socialists, intemperance, and illiteracy, while also extolling his people as "industrious, good-natured, honest - for his honesty has been tested both as a slave and free man." The frontispiece of the work features a well-dressed Johnson posing for the camera above his printed inscription, "Yours for God and Peace, W Bishop Johnson."

According to the biographical sketch of the author by E. M. Brawley that serves as a preface to this book, Johnson was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1858. He graduated from high school in Buffalo, New York, and then as valedictorian of his college class at Union University in Richmond, Virginia. Johnson became a Baptist minister, a mathematics and political science professor at his alma mater, and at the time this book was written, he served as the pastor of the Second Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. and also edited the National Baptist Magazine.

A wonderful work of African American erudition and uplift. Not in Work, the Blockson Collection, nor in the Library Company's African Americana Collection.

Price: $1,250.00