Tuesday, March 23, 2010

# 21 A Philosophy Versus A Strategic Plan

# 21 A Philosophy Versus A Strategic Plan


Vernon M. Herron

There is a prevailing philosophical notion that the mastery of this world’s operation is a part of man’s dominion. Whether the manifestation comes in form of global warming, outer space exploration, economic condition of our nation and the world, taxes, hunger, unemployment, poverty, diseases, sickness and the like, we tend to forget that man is a steward/trustee of the earth and not the owner. Philosophy says that we don’t inherit the world from our ancestors, we borrow from our children.

For the sake of clarity within the context of this article, I define strategic planning as—the skillful planning and management of anything, including our world. If you are a part of the management of your family, church, school, club, organization, fraternal/sorority group, etc., then strategic planning should be the instrument by which you measure desired outcome.

We can look to the past for advice on the future. The Native American Iroquois used a special method to help make all of their decisions. Before deciding anything, they considered what effect that decision would have on descendants seven generations into the future. Seven generations were assured a share in the benefits of any decision.

Seven generations from now, what will be left of our earth, our government, the tax structure, our educational system, our earning capacity or our quality of life, etc? Will our own poor decisions compound the accumulated mistakes of our ancestors? Will we remember the needs of seven generations after our own? We have the chance to leave our great, great, great, great, great grandchildren a great, great, great, great, great grand world, if only we keep the seventh generation in mind whenever we make a decision.

Our children are lending us the earth; some day, they will want it back! What will be left for them? Will too many children receive too little earth? The planet’s remaining resources may seem like a present waiting to be opened. If we open the present, we close the future. We have been reminded that, “Ours is the first generation faced with decisions which will determine whether the Earth we give our children is habitable.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010




In 1945, the explosion of the atomic bomb changed our thinking about social behavior. But as far back as 1865, when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified which ended enslavement in all parts of the United States, that highlighted an human explosion in hearts of the masses “yearning to breathe”…“freedom.”

Let me set the stage for you. This is a true story about three principals: The Richard Herron Family, The Rev. Samuel Corruthers Alexander and Johnson C. Smith University. The uniqueness in this story is that there is a common thread running through a historic tapestry which binds us.

Richard Herron and his wife Minerva constituted the first known structured African American Herron family in the Piedmont region of the Tar Heel State of North Carolina in 1870. My great-great grandfather, Richard Herron was born c.1810 in Mecklenburg County, NC. He and his wife were parents of 11 children. Born in enslavement, lived in servitude for forty six years, ancestor Richard’s new world was just thirty-five years from the twentieth-first century. He and his family were chattel property of Isaac W. Herron, M.D. of the Steel Creek- Dixie community. The “good doctor” and his family were dedicated members of the Steele Creek Presbyterian Church, where the enslaved whom they mastered, worshiped from the balcony each week.

The Rev. Samuel Corrruthers Alexander served as Pastor of The Steele Creek Presbyterian Church from 1861 to 1866. During his first pastoral year, he purchased a farm between Pleasant Hill and Steel Creek. This purchase proved to be prophetic and purpose driven. .

His five years of pastoral ministry, pricked the social consciousness of a powerful congregation. It is reported that Steele Creek Presbyterian Church was the second largest church in the Synod of North Carolina at the time of Alexander’s call. According to Leon Robert Anderson, the 1860 records of the General Assembly show that Steele Creek Presbyterian Church had 110 Black members.

There were several incidents which disrupted the harmony of a good pastor-people relationship, including problems with the elders regarding salary reduction, swearing false witnesses, taking oath to avoid conscription, the time/attention Rev. Alexander spent on Christian Education and literary training for the enslaved in the church.

Noting a sudden and continuous absence of Black members from worship, on November 17, 1866, the Steele Creek Session adopted the following motion:

Whereas the Session of the Steele Creek Church having reliable information
that many of our coloured members have withdrawn from us, and joined
other denominations, without applying for letters of dismission, and that
others continue to remain among us, who refuse to receive the ordinances
with us. Now that order may be preserve and the rules of the church duly
enforced, it is moved that the names of all coloured members who have thus
“gone from us” be stricken and that those who wish their membership to
remain with us or in case of this failure to do so, then their names shall also
be stricken from the roll of church members. (Steele Creek Minutes: 107))

At the inception of the new found freedom, Blacks left the balcony of The Steele Creek Presbyterian Church in droves, leaving only three Blacks behind and Richard Herron was not one of them. Pastor Alexander resigned as pastor and left with the former enslaved including my great-great grandfather. He began a ministry of basic education (reading , writing) and Christian Education on his recently acquired farm.

He later sold a portion of that land to the “new frontiers” for $1.00 which later became the home of the McClintock Presbyterian Church. In addition to McClintock Church, Mr. Alexander was a principal in the founding of Mt. Olive Presbyterian Church, Murkland Presbyterian Church, the Woodlawn Presbyterian Church, the Colored Presbyterian Church (later called Seventh Street Presbyterian Church,) now is called First United Presbyterian Church, a parochial school (McClintock Church-School) and a college (formerly Biddle Memorial Institute) now Johnson C. Smith University.

So you ask me how the Richard Herron Family and Johnson C. Smith University are related? Our kinship runs through SAMUEL CARRUTHERS ALEXANDER who gave to both entities an educational birth which led to liberation and freedom through a structured process.

Following Emancipation, one planter said to a former enslaved person:

Charles, you is a free man they say, but Ah tells you now,
you is still a slave and if you live to be a hundred, you’ll
still be a slave, cause you got no education, and education
is what makes a man free. (Litwick: 473)

Thank God for the birth of freedom through the labor pains of God’s anointed