Document 13: "Prayer for Deliverance of the Colored People," [1922], NAACP Papers, Part 7: The Anti-Lynching Campaign, 1912-1955, Series B: Anti-Lynching Legislative and Publicity Files, 1916-1955, Library of Congress (Microfilm, Reel 3, Frame 290).

Introduction

        During the campaign run by the Anti-Lynching Crusaders from the 1st of October to the 31st of December, 1922, Crusaders were asked to recite the following prayer at noon (see Document 10). The emphasis on prayer reflected the centrality of religious conviction to African-American culture and activism. The prayer stressed the racial nature of the crime of lynching and emphasized the goals of the Crusaders, including their hopes for the passage of the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill, then under consideration by the United States Senate. When it stated that the public act of lynching was designed "to give our name an evil repute in the eyes of the world," the prayer contradicted southern whites' claim that mob violence was necessary as a response to sexual violence by black men.

Prayer

FOR DELIVERANCE OF THE COLORED PEOPLE

________

        Our Father who art in Heaven. Hallowed be thy Name.

        Hear now, we beseech Thee, the prayer and petition of ten million American citizens of African descent, who this day approach Thy presence with one heart and voice. We thank Thee that Thou art no respecter of races, nations or persons; but all who love and serve find equal favor with Thee.

        Thou didst stoop to the lowly estate of our fathers and mothers in the darker days of their enslavement, and didst hear their cry for deliverance rising up from the low ground of sorrows. May our faith in Thy power of deliverance be as simple and sincere and as soul-deep as theirs. Amidst the distractions and allurements of this worldly day, may we preserve the patrimony of the faith of our fathers.

        We do not palliate misdeeds, nor would we shield the wrongdoer from the just penalty of crime. Let those who sin under the law perish by the law. But we pray Thee that accusation, suspicion and allegement of crime may not suffice for proof when one of our number is the victim. Let not the sins of the wicked be visited upon the heads of the guiltless.

        We are slain all the day long in the land of our nativity, which is the land of our loyalty and of our love. The vials of race vengeance are wreaked upon our defenceless heads. The inhuman thirst for human blood takes little heed of innocence or guilt. Any convenient victim identified with our race suffices to slake the accursed thirst. We are beaten with many stripes. Our bodies are bruised, burned and tortured and torn asunder for the ghoulish mirth of the blood lusty multitude. Whenever such atrocity is perpetrated upon any one of our number, because of his race, it is done unto us all. Vengeance and wrath are not invoked for the fit atonement of committed crime, nor yet for the just punishment of evildoers; but the sinister aim is to depress our spirit, enslave our souls and to give our name an evil repute in the eyes of the world.

        Put it into the hearts of the people and the ruler of our own land that the true grandeur of this nation will not consist in political dominion or the mightiness of power or the magnitude of material things, but in justice, love and mercy.

        We pray Thee to enlighten the understanding and nerve the hearts of our law-makers with the political wisdom and the moral courage to pass the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill, now hanging in the balance of doubt and uncertainty.

        Have mercy upon any of our legislators who may be so embittered with the gall of race hatred and fettered by the bonds of political iniquity as to advocated or apologize for lynching, raping and murder.

        Hear our prayer, relieve our distress, preserve our nation and save the world.

        We ask it all for Jesusí sake. Amen.

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