Idolatry in Georgia.
(Americits, Ga. , Recorder.) A phase of hero worship has developed, or rather cropped out among the negroes of a certain portion of Lee county, which is singularly peculiar and at the same time very suggestive of an interesting chain of ethnological points. Lewis Barber, a colored preacher, had in his charge a membership numbering, perhaps, 3,000, making up his four churches. He was a typical specimen of the negro clergy, and wielded an almost, absolute power, body and soul over his large congregation. “ Brudder Barber’s” word was law and gospel unto his followers, and none dared to question his authority or his sway. Vehement, magnetic and powerful, one swing from his long arms and a chant from his strangely musical voice would set a hundred sisters swaying their bodies to and fro, and as many brothers keeping time to the weird ry thm with beating feet; in awful interest the sermon would grow a medley of declamation and recitative, until one wild deafening cry brings to a climax the ecstatic joy in shouts, trances, and meanings. Last summer the preacher died, and his friends and followers refused to be comforted. He was honored with burial rites without precedent, and such a funeral was indeed seldom seen. The deeds and memory left by the good pastor were not sufficient for his members, and, not comforted with these, they have set up a sort of graven image, so to speak, of Barber, which is placed above the pulpit of his principal church. The image itself is a work of the crudest art, made of white and black cotton cloth, stuffed with straw, and painted with charcoal.- To an unbiassed critic it looks more like a scarecrow set up to frighten hawks than anything else; but a devout member informed the writer that it was a very striking likeness of the deceased. We marvelled somewhat at the strange thing with another brother of this church, and asked him its object. He gave us to understand it was a remembrancer of the beloved deceased, and said, “although brother Barber is gone, we still has de shapes of him wid us.”
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Idolatry in Georgia., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 279, 26 February 1881
Idolatry in Georgia. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 279, 26 February 1881
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