Rev. Francis James Grimké – Early Civil Rights Leader

William FedererBy William Federer2 Minutes

A former slave, Rev. Francis James Grimké became one of the leading African-American preachers in America, serving at the 15th Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. He worked for equal rights, was part of the Niagara Movement, and was a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.

Grimké befriended many of the key national leaders of his day, including Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan.

Rev. Francis James Grimké warned in a sermon, March 7, 1909: “We have just been celebrating, all over the country, the centennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, our great war President, and this inauguration coming so soon after, makes it especially a good time to talk about some of the questions which grew out of the war …

It is now no longer a question as to whether we are a nation, or a confederation of sovereign and independent States … The Stars and Stripes, the old flag, will float, as long as it floats, over all these States, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Lakes to the Gulf.

If the time ever comes when we shall go to pieces, it will not be from any desire or disposition on the part of the States to pull apart, but from inward corruption, from the disregard of right principles … from losing sight of the fact that “righteousness exalteth a nation, but that sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34).

It is here where our real danger lies–not in the secession of States from the Union, but in the secession of the Union itself from the great and immutable principles of right, of justice …

The secession of the Southern States in 1860 was a small matter compared with the secession of the Union itself from the great principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, in the Golden Rule, in the Ten Commandments, in the Sermon on the Mount.”

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