Friday, March 27, 2015
1012 C Street  •  Floresville, TX 78114  •  Phone: 830-216-4519  •  Fax: 830-393-3219  • 

WCN Site Search

Lost & Found

VideoHuge male Siamese cat, missing from Hickory Hill off 539 since 3/19/15. Mostly inside cat, family is devastated. Please call 830-947-9988 or call/text 830-534-0529 if found/seen.
Large amount of cash in blue bank envelope lost in or around Floresville Tax Office (across from library) Please call if found. I can identify details. Jan 830 391 3757 God Bless
Lost: Large black dog with long hair, name is Lucky, 1 blue eye, has rabies tag, last seen on CR 329, Floresville. Any information call 830-391-2438.
More Lost & Found ads ›

Help Wanted

OSC Energy looking for Class A CDL driver, must have experience in heavy equipment hauling. Pay id depending on experience. Competitive pay and insurance. Please e-mail resume to, or call (830)579-4487.
The City of Floresville is currently accepting applications for lifeguards. Applicants must be 16 years of age and should be comfortable in and around water. Certification requires a 300 meter pre-requisite swim, demonstrating both front crawl (free style) and breaststroke. Applications may be picked up and dropped off at the City of Floresville front office, 1120 D Street, Mon.-Fri., 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Deadline to accept applications will be Tuesday, March 31, 2015. The City of Floresville is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
More Help Wanted ads ›

Featured Videos

Video Vault ›


Race, Segregation, and Heaven

E-Mail this Story to a Friend
Print this Story

The author of this entry is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or
September 1, 2011 | 1,558 views | 1 comment

By Dr. Gary Scott Smith

The new movie, “The Help,” based on Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling book by the same name, continues to lead ticket sales at the box office. Both dramatize the extent and tragedy of segregation and discrimination in the South during the early 1960s. Racism affected almost every area of Southern (and many areas of Northern) society before the changes brought by the Civil Rights movement and acts later in the decade. Several poignant scenes in the movie depict a campaign to prevent black domestic servants from using the toilets in white homes in which they worked.

As demeaning and tragic as such treatment was, it pales when compared to the dehumanization slavery entailed. Not satisfied with dominating blacks on earth, whites even depicted a heaven where blacks had second-class status. Masters and white ministers typically assigned blacks a subordinate place in heaven and warned them that their earthly obedience and work ethic would play a significant role in where they spent eternity. They either stated or implied that blacks would be inferior to whites in the afterlife because the concept of racial equality contradicted their contention that God sanctioned slavery. Instead, Southern whites usually portrayed a segregated heaven where blacks continued to serve whites. Sermons sometimes described blacks’ role in heaven as “working in God’s kitchen.” One white minister told slaves that heaven had a wall with holes in it that would separate them from their masters but permit blacks to see whites as they walked by.

By contrast, many blacks looked forward to heavenly bliss and compensation and divine retribution for their suffering. Convinced that this racist portrait of heaven could not be reconciled with a loving and just God who valued all human beings equally, they recast heaven and hell in light of their own experiences, values, and traditions as an exploited people. Their narratives, tales, songs, sermons, and prayers demonstrate that slaves rejected their masters’ conception of heaven where discrimination and subordination persisted and of a hell where disobedient, lazy slaves suffered for eternity.

Many slaves viewed heaven in the words of historian David Roediger as “the very negation of slavery.” Rather than offering compensatory hope, many Negro spirituals that celebrated the glories of heaven also either openly or subtly condemned the maltreatment of blacks on earth. Slave songs about “Going over Jordan” and “Canaan’s Happy Shore” often had a dual reference point: attaining freedom on earth and getting to heaven.

In many ways, slaves’ conception of heaven was the opposite of their everyday life, stressing the absence of earthly ordeals, suffering, and toil. In the next world “Dere’s no sun to burn you ... no hard trials ... no whips a-crackin’ ... no stormy weather... [and] no evil-doers.” In heaven, the oppressed would “lay down dat heavy load.” Slaves looked forward to living in “bright mansions above,” feasting with Jesus at His welcome table, singing and shouting, and never being forced to leave. And there would be no sadness, sorrow, parting, or quarreling. In heaven it would always be Sunday, the one day of the week that most slaves did not have to work and could visit with each other and hold their own worship services.

In the heaven slaves imagined, they would also experience the dignity and worth denied to them on earth. Admission to heaven would validate their humanity. Although masters and many other whites defined them as uncivilized brutes or mere commodities, in God’s eyes they were valuable, precious human beings for whom His Son died.

God’s justice was prominent in slaves’ portrait of heaven. Unfairness and discrimination prevailed in this world, but justice would triumph in the afterlife. Many black sermons and songs celebrated God’s eternal order of justice and love. Spirituals affirmed blacks’ belief that God’s righteousness would reign in heaven, which was a place of spiritual equality. One slave scoffed at the assumption of many whites that “when dey go to Heaven de colored folks would be dar to wait on ‘em.” A just God would not allow that.

Far from being a form of escape that led them to accept their plight passively, blacks’ hope in heaven motivated many of them to live courageously on earth. It helped inspire Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey, and Nat Turner to instigate slave insurrections and Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman to escape to the North, denounce slavery, and work with the Underground Railroad. Their vision of heaven emboldened many others to rebel, run away, or challenge injustice.

Throughout history people’s conceptions of heaven have reflected their earthly circumstances and needs. While racial injustice still persists in American society, such blatantly discriminatory (and unbiblical) portraits of heaven thankfully have been largely rejected.

-- Dr. Gary Scott Smith chairs the history department at Grove City College and is a fellow for faith and the presidency with The Center for Vision & Values. His most recent book is “Heaven in the American Imagination” (Oxford University Press, 2011).
‹ Previous Blog Entry

Your Opinions and Comments

Elaine K.  
September 1, 2011 11:07am
New column posted.

Share your comment or opinion on this story!

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Not a subscriber?
Subscriber, but no password?
Forgot password?

Commentaries Archives

Commentaries page
Commentaries who represents me?
Voncille Bielefeld homeHeavenly Touch homeSacred Heart SchoolChester WilsonAllstate & McBride RealtyTriple R DC Experts

  Copyright © 2007-2015 Wilson County News. All rights reserved. Web development by Drewa Designs.