Rev. Henry Highland Garnet

Motto henry highland garnet original.jpg

Henry Highland Garnet (1815 – 1882) African-American abolitionist, minister, educator and orator.

“Rev. Henry Highland Garnet . . . was born a slave in Kent County, Maryland; he escaped from slavery in 1824; he studied theology at Oneida Institute in Utica, New York; and became a pastor. Later he served as the president of Avery College in Allegheny, Pennsylvania.

“He expressed some of his thoughts in his address to the National Convention of Colored Citizens in Buffalo, New York in August of 1843 — and remember, this was 1843. This is essentially what he said (and I’m taking excerpts from the speech):

In every man’s mind the good seeds of liberty are planted, and he who brings his fellow down so low, as to make him contented with a condition of slavery, commits the highest crime against God and man. . . .

To such degradation, it is sinful in the extreme for you to make voluntary submission. The divine [command] you are in duty bound to reverence and obey. [And] if you do not obey them, you will surely meet with the displeasure of the Almighty.…

Your condition does not absolve you from your moral obligation. The diabolical injustice by which your liberties [have been] cloven down, neither God, nor angels, or just men, command you to suffer for a single moment. Therefore it is your … duty to use every means, both moral, intellectual, and physical, that [promotes] success. . . .

Brethren, arise!… [And] strike for your … liberties. Now is the day and the hour. Let every slave throughout the land do this and the days of slavery are numbered. You cannot be more oppressed than you have been—you cannot suffer greater cruelties than you have already. Rather die [as] freemen than [to] live [as] slaves. . . .

Let your motto be resistance! Resistance!! Resistance!!! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance.

“That’s a remarkable statement. Here’s a man who was a Presbyterian, and yet, he sees the implications of what the Bible says: that slavery is not compatible with being a human being. Now, he was not advocating violence, but it’s interesting in his statement — a lot of people give Malcolm X credit for saying,

‘We want liberty in this land at this time, by any means necessary,’

but 120 years before he said that, Henry Highland Garnet says something even more powerful. He was one of these thinkers who traveled and was one of those involved in this transnational Black community.”

{Excerpt from Carl F. Ellis Jr., CS251 History and Theology of the African American Church, Logos Mobile Education (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press), 2017.}



Looking at 5 American black theologians, pastors and missionaries

George Liele

Next: Rev. Alexander Crummell

4 thoughts on “Rev. Henry Highland Garnet

  1. Pingback: Rev. Alexander Crummell | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

  2. Pingback: Richard Allen | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

  3. Pingback: Charles Price Jones better known as C. P. Jones | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

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