Who Lynched Willie Earle?
Preaching to Confront Racism
Copyright © 2017 Abingdon Press
As a licensed non-denominational minister, I really wanted to read this text. And I was not disappointed. I read it once straight through. Then I re-read it, making sure I fully understood the writer's intent and purpose.
Willie Earle was a black man, who in 1947 sat locked in a jail cell in Pickens, South Carolina. He had been accused of knifing a Greenville cab driver.
A mob of righteous, Christian, white men confronted the jailer, who literally turned the keys over to them. Willie Earle was dragged from his cell. He was beaten so badly that he was not recognizable. He was dragged behind a car. And he was hung. The mob choose to be the judge, jury and prosecutor all rolled into one.
Willie Earle was dead. His family so torn apart and mad with grief and rage, yet, feeling that they could not express themselves in the southern, white-ruled town, kept silent.
In steps a minister. So emotionally charged by the lynching, and the fact that so-called Christian men could do such a thing to any man, no matter the color, decided he had to do something. He tried a town meeting. Which got him nowhere.
Two weeks after the event, and many hours spent in prayer for the right words to use, and how to deliver them, Hawley Lynn delivered a sermon to his congregation that is as needed today as it was back in 1947. It has become such a sermon that ministers still study it today. But as most will recognize, it is the kind of sermon that is rarely delivered.
Was it Christ-like (the word Christian literally means "Christ-like") to lynch Willie Earle? And although racism is deeply rooted in the south, is it not nearly as prevalent in the north as it is the south? If you answer no, you would be wrong. It is there. Lurking behind the eyes of the man who states "I have black friends!", and is insistent he is not racist. It is there behind the eyes of the woman who tells her daughter "It's okay to have black friends, but you're not going to date one". It is there in the individual who says "Black Americans are lazy", or "They get all the free government hand outs, why don't they just get a job!" Or, "They are all gangsters". I know you can come up with more.
So, are all white Americans guilty of racism? I can't answer that. But Hawley pointed out the need for Christians to be "Christ-like". He pointed out that God has no color preference. In His eyes, we are all simply people.
Bishop Willimon brings out the point that we have now graduated into calling black individuals "African-Americans" just to be politically correct. As an example, I come from English, French, Irish and Scot ancestry. So would I be called an "Anglo-American"? Or some variety of "English-French-Irish-Scot-American"? Of course not. We don't ever hear someone say something like that. Why do we not simply say an American? Or a person? Or a man? Or a woman? Instead of qualifying that they are in some way black?
I give this book five stars, (I would give it 10 if I could!)
I give a BIG thumbs up,
and I HIGHLY recommend it for reading and study.
You can find this book on Amazon.com here. It is available in paperback for $11.96 or in Kindle version for $9.99, plus shipping and handling for the paperback.
****DISCLAIMER: This book was provided by Amazon Vine in exchange for a fair and impartial review. All opinions above are solely those of this blogs author and may not represent other reviewers opinions.