• Playing Hell in Charleston. Daniel Payne, Clementa Pinckney and the Struggle Against White Supremacy

    Susanna Margaret Ashton (see profile)
    Terrorism--Social aspects, African Americans, History, Education
    Item Type:
    White Supremacy, Sociology of terrorism, African American history, Educational history
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    The men and women massacred while studying the Bible the other night in the Emanuel A. M. E. Church were, in their own way, raising hell. That phrase might seem ill conceived or even disrespectful but it can be invoked here to honor their courage and the A. M. E Church’s long tradition of challenging white supremacy. Their private prayer this week was political simply because their mere existence challenged racial power. There is a long contextual history of race violence in America which gives ustools to see this event clearly but even more than that, there is a history that is deeply specific to both place and to that phrase. Daniel Payne was a young free man of color in Charleston who quietly started a school with three free black children during the day and, even more quietly, with three enslaved adultsin the evening. His school grew to more than 60 students by 1834 and included classes in mathematics, geography, history, grammar, drawing, and physical education.Payne sought to teach the natural sciences and encouraged children to collect and dissect small creatures under his guidance. With singularly bad luck, some of his young students were noticed wandering onto a snake-infested plantation owned by the Kennedy family. Young Dr. Lionel C. Kennedy and his father, Judge Lionel H. Kennedy, interrogated thechildren not only about their snake hunt but also about what they were taught in school.As Payne recounted in his memoir, Recollections of Seventy Years, upon hearing their answers, the young Dr. Kennedy remarked, “Why, pa, Payne is playing hell in Charleston." . . . .
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    Last Updated:
    6 years ago
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