Copyright 1998, 1999 , 2000 ASET, M. Mbulu All rights to everything on this web site are reserved.

Title of Course: Profiles In Black Mba Mbulu, Instructor

Textbook: None. Selected writings found online will constitute the textbook.

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Read the following information on Henry Highland Garnet. Relate the information to the following questions to the best of your ability.

(1) Do you think Garnet's upbringing contributed to his immense dislike of slavery?

(2) Why do you think positions taken by Garnet frightened some of the most radical of the white abolitionists?

(3) Do you agree with Garnet's position that there is not much hope of redemption without the shedding of blood?

(4) Garnet wanted to employ religion as a vehicle for Black self expression and uplift? Is there anything wrong with approaching religion in that manner?

(5) In your opinion, is equating devotion to God to devotion to the struggle of Black People sacrilegious in any way? Why or why not?

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Class #8: HENRY HIGHLAND GARNET

Teacher, Prophet, Editor, Apostle of Revolt

The Black Liberation movement has deep historic roots in the American experience. From the rebellions on the slave ships to the recent rebellions in the cities, Black People have been struggling against oppression. A proper study of Black History will reveal movements identical to those of today. Black Nationalism in particular was as much thought about and advocated in the middle of the 19th century as it is now.

These early years produced Rev. Henry Highland Garnet, an inspirational leader in the anti-slavery movement. He consistently took progressive stands on vital issues from free labor to anti-imperialism. In 1843, he voiced the real sentiment of the Black masses in the Black Liberation movement when he said, "Let you motto be Resistance!"

Born into slavery on December 23, 1815 in New Market, Maryland, Garnet was the descendant of a long line of African warriors and rulers. As a child, Garnet was bred on the grandeur of ancient Africa and developed an almost religious faith in the mission and destiny of Black People in America. Securing permission to attend the funeral of a slave on a distant plantation, Garnet's father managed to escape with his family to New York City, where Henry attended the Free African schools.

Because of the poverty of his father, Garnet dropped out of school to earn money as a hand on sailing vessels. Returning home one day in 1829, he learned that slave catchers (who constantly roamed the streets of New York and other cities) had scattered his family and captured his sister. On that day, Henry Highland Garnet the revolutionary was born.

In 1840, while still a student, Garnet had attracted national attention with a slashing attack on slavery at the annual convention of the American Anti-Slavery Society. The Anti-Slavery movement at this juncture was in the hands of white abolitionists pursuing a policy of passive opposition, and suffered from the inability of its leaders to define and articulate programs that were sympathetic to the preferences of the slaves. Garnet resistance that program. Black People, he said, could not be freed by agents; nor, he added, could they be freed by white friends. Garnet asserted Black People's role as the architects of their won destiny. With other Black leaders, he revived the Negro Convention movement. Voicing the feelings of many Blacks, Garnet called for a policy of open rebellion, moving into a position that frightened some of the most radical of the white abolitionists.

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At the 1843 Negro Convention, Garnet startled America with what was probably the most brilliant idea of the whole anti-slavery campaign-- a general slave strike. Garnet told the slaves: "We have been contented in sitting and mourning over your sorrows, earnestly hoping that before this day your sacred liberty would have been restored. But we hoped in vain." It is time, Garnet said, to stop "sitting still" and "hoping and sympathizing." Garnet told the slaves that resistance was a religious duty. "NEITHER GOD, NOR ANGELS, OR JUST MEN, COMMAND YOU TO SUFFER FOR A SINGLE MOMENT. THEREFORE IT IS YOUR SOLEMN AND IMPERATIVE DUTY TO USED EVERY MEANS BOTH MORAL, INTELLECTUAL, AND PHYSICAL, THAT PROMISES SUCCESS!!" "Brethren," he said, "the time has come when you must act for yourselves. However you and all of us may desire it, there is not much hope of redemption without the shedding of blood. If you must bleed, let it all come at once-- rather die free men than live to be slaves. Let your motto be resistance! resistance! resistance!"

Garnet took the question of violence to its limits. He saw that revolutionary situations were developing in various nations. Blacks, Garnet felt, should keep pace with these trends and prepare to change American society.

Garnet's actions were always determined by the needs of the anti-slavery movement. He watched the activities of free and slave Blacks, and advocated and acted accordingly. His concern that Blacks have the benefit of religious training was based on his belief that it was necessary to building character, strength and discipline. Viewing religion as something that could serve humanity, he meant to employ it as a vehicle for Black self expression and uplift. His goal was to make use of the church in the liberation struggle. Devotion to God was equated to devotion to the struggle.

On December 28, 1881, Garnet died in Liberia. He left a legacy of action. He demonstrated his belief in the masses and devoted his life to them. That he is remembered is proof of the dedication of Blacks to the realization of the ideas that inspired them and Henry Highland Garnet.

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