For the Week of September 10-16
1847—John Roy Lynch is born into slavery on this day near Vidalia, La. Lynch would be among the first group of Blacks to serve in the United States Congress after slavery. He represented the state of Mississippi. Lynch would even serve as temporary chairman of the Republican Party National Convention. During this period, the Republicans were the more progressive and friendly-to-Blacks party. But as the period of Reconstruction faded and Southern politicians made it virtually impossible for Blacks to remain in political office, Lynch moved to Chicago and practiced law. He died in 1939 at the age of 92.
1965—Father Divine dies in Philadelphia, Pa. From about 1910 to his death in 1965, Father Divine was Black America’s foremost spiritual and cult leader. Indeed, he claimed to be God and his full self-given name was Rev. General Jealous Divine. Critics called him a charlatan and a religious scam artist. But initially as a traveling preacher and then from a base in New York City, Divine built his small church into the International Peace Mission—a large mass congregation with members and churches throughout the United States and several foreign countries. Little is known about his background, but he was probably born in Georgia and his real given name was probably George Baker. During his heyday, Divine’s only serious competition was another Black spiritual-cult leader by the name of Daddy Grace.
1976—Mordecai Johnson, the first Black president of historic Howard University in Washington, D.C., dies. He was one of the nation’s foremost educational leaders. He was 86 when he died.