Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Blog 124: Pacemaker Extends Life

By Vernon M. Herron

     Avid readers of this blog, know of my frank and constant discussion of my health problems. Today is no exception. Soon after the first of the year (Jan. 2, ’13), I am scheduled for a new implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).This is a scientific name for a heart pacemaker.

     An ICD is a small electronic device that’s implanted (inserted) into your body. It is prescribed for people who have life-threatening rapid heart rhythm. It continuously monitors your heartbeat. If it senses a dangerous rapid heart rhythm, the device delivers one or more electrical impulses or shocks to the heart to restore a normal rhythm. The defibrillator operate by batteries.

     In 2005, I had my first pacemaker installed to strengthen a weak heart. After the installation, I felt like a “new man.” Four years later, the batteries became weak and were replaced in 2009. After three years of service, the batteries will be  replaced again. I notice that the length of battery life keep getting shorter.

     But the other side of the equation is the recognition of the advancement of technology. I, for one, am grateful for the advancement of science which not only extends life but makes it more comfortable in living. Before such discoveries, human life was at the mercy of “what is.”

     Today, how blessed we are to have pacemakers and other prosthetic limbs to aid the body. This point is well illustrated in the following story.

     On the first night of his wedding, a new husband watched his new bride undress for bed. She removed her head piece and laid it aside, showing her bald head. Then she removed her teeth and placed them in a glass of water. Later, she removed her right arm and laid it aside, followed by the removal of her left leg. Lastly, she removed one breast and one hip pad.

     The new husband who could take no more, rose up and said “woman, get yourself ‘together’ and get out of here!”

     Thank God for the Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator, the PaceMaker.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Blog 123: Precious Moments with Mrs. Arlene McCorkle (She Read All Published Blogs in One Sitting)

By Vernon M. Herron

Mrs. Arlene Stewart McCorkle, 97 is still dear in the hearts of students she taught at Second Ward High School in Charlotte, North Carolina 65 years ago. For two years, she was the faculty advisor for the class of ’47 consisting of 79 members.

Recently, Mrs. McCorkle expressed a desire to read all published Herron Speaks blogs which included many references to her. (See blogs 17, 18, 19, 61, 68, 69 and 70). All 122 blogs were given to this sage for review. She read them all in one sitting.

When Vernon Herron went to Mrs. McCorkle’s home to retrieve the loan copy of blogs,  an idea was born; have all back copies bound into a book; name the book, The A.S. McCorkle’s Copy of Herron Speaks Blogs (on loan).The former beloved teacher said that the visit was memorable and precious. It gave the hostess moments to reflect on her investment into the lives of students who had gone on to succeed in life and who are now doing well.

While this class advisor expressed abundant joy at her student’s writing, and that these moments of reflection were “precious” to her soul, brother Herron reminded the teacher that it was she who first planted the seed in him of creative thought and writing skills.

On Wednesday July 27, 2011, family, friends and former students joined in the celebration of her 96th birthday. Today she is still mentally alert though unable to walk.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Blog 122: "I Keep Telling You the Truth," Re: Hurricane Sandy

By Vernon M. Herron
     Last month, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record was formed. At least 193 people died. In the United States alone, we saw $52.4 billion in damage, mostly in the East, but stretching from Florida to Maine and including 24 states from Michigan and Wisconsin to New York and New Jersey.
     We saw flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines. Power was out around the city. Some scientists have suggested that Hurricane Sandy was made worse by global warming.
     In my blog 90, we discussed in depth the effect of global warming, changing rainfall patterns, leading shifts in plant and animal populations, rising sea level and an increase in the frequency and severity of tropical storms. Much of the content of blog 90 is repeated here. I keep telling you the truth about global warming and hurricanes keep coming.
     From Biblical days, a prophet was one who “foretells” as well as “forth tells” the future.
      Only a keen observer is necessary to note that countries with nuclear power have the capabilities “to destroy the world’s inhabitants several times over. Countries that possess nuclear arms include USA, China, France, India, Pakistan, South Africa, United Kingdom and others.”
     “Research shows that climate change is a factor to be handled responsibly.” 
     One major environmental concern is that human activity may be changing the global climate. Research also shows that the burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – to power motor vehicles, heat buildings, generate electric energy, and perform various industrial tasks, is increasing the amount of carbon dioxide, gas carbon and burning them produces carbon dioxide. 
     This gas slows the escape of heat released by the earth into space. Thus, an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide may cause global warming – a rise in the temperature of the air next to the earth’s surface.
     Countries, industries, global leaders and politicians must show responsible leadership and subjugate the profit motive. 
     It is said that “unless global leaders throw their weight behind alternatives to carbon-emitting energy and technologies over the next five years, the world is doomed to a warmer climate, harsher weather, drought, famine, water scarcity, rising sea levels, loss of island nations and increasing ocean acidification.” 
     I keep telling you the truth. Who will listen before it is too late?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Blog 121: From the Mailbox

By Vernon M. Herron

Bullying is not in my vocabulary as I detest it very much.  I liked your blog on the subject. I believe that those who bully others are very insecure people, who are in need of help. Children need to be taught social skills from early ages; they need to know their self-worth. 
     The "Golden- Rule "should be constantly instilled in them. When I taught, I always chose literature to read to my class which taught the children to be nice and respectful to others.  I did this because I saw potential bullies and I wanted to change attitudes. Bullying should never be tolerated in any setting, the earlier we eradicate it, the better. 
     Thank you so much for the blog, it should be read by all educators of small children.
– Connie

A wonderful blog, Dr. Herron. Ms. Thornton is so very correct. There was a time in another era and another place when our teachers and schools integrated character    into everything that we did. What happened to this whole notion of doing business for children? I have some ideas, of course. I would like to hear what others think. 
– Kenneth Simmons

In the late 1990s before I retired, some parents objected when school personnel addressed character development with their children. At that time, I was a junior high assistant principal. (The change to middle school had not yet occurred.)  
     On several occasions I was visited by parents who wanted to discuss the school's efforts to discuss character development in assemblies and school clubs.  Each visitor always insisted that parents were solely responsible for the character development of their children.  On more than one occasion the parent arrived with a written "position paper" that had been prepared by a group of parents of the same mindset.  
     I always shared with them the rationale for the school's involvement in the issue of character development.  I responded in the following way:  I agree that parents should be responsible for character development, but not necessarily solely responsible. Unfortunately, some parents do not address it at all.  Even when parents take it seriously, children do not always exhibit behavior at school that would make their parents proud.  
     Because disparities exist, character development should be addressed at school in order to maintain reasonable behavior standards.  Parents and school personnel should work together to help students achieve self-discipline.
     Bullying at school was a problem then, as it is still.  The bullies did not always come from the homes where parents discussed it very seldom, if at all.  Some of the visiting parents with their objections and "position papers" and their professions that they were sending model students to school each day were actually parents of bullies and children with other character flaws. It is interesting that people do not always see themselves as others see them.
– Barbara P. Hendricks

I appreciate your blogs, and look forward to seeing you again.  Thank you in advance.
– Kenneth Morton

We have a very brief summary on bullying. I would love to speak with you concerning this topic. 
– Lady Cruz 

Re: General Thank you for the ballot guide. Your suggestion for the judgeship was most helpful.
– Neil Gibson, M.D.

Nice writings.
– Donnell

How beautifully written! Our generations have lost a gentle sense of empathy, refinement and composure. Thanks for sharing.
– D.W.

Selected blogs are very, very interesting and well written.
– Ione Vargus, Ph.D.

You never cease to amaze me with your super salute to others. Thanks for all you do for others.
– Linda Butler

Marvelous writings.
– Dr. Edward Robinson

I read your blogs with delight.
– Judge Brenda Thompson

I find your readings informative, inspiring as well as educationally astute.
– Duncan C. Gray

Inspiring blogs! I am sooooooooooooooooooo glad I played a part in helping you.
– Marvin Stewart

Blogs are of great warmth, intelligence and information.
– Larry A. Daniel

Your blogs are right on point. They address many questions which appear in our culture, especially among our young generation. Your statistical data is rich, well written and academically sound.
– Gregory L. Wallace

Thank you for the history lessons and for the great piece on the First Lady of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.
– Dabbie E. Garner

Your query is well placed in juxtaposition to the collective conscious.
– Joseph Burton

Very informative. I just returned from the fruit store where I found oranges, apples, watermelon and kiwi. Thank you for clarifying the genealogical theory of “being removed.”
– Gerrie Daniel

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blog 120: Curtailing Bullying

By Kenneth A. Simmons, M.Ed.
(Guest writer)

    One of the most horrific behaviors or set of experiences being presented on stage throughout America is bullying. Many experts agree that bullying may take on many different forms; however, bullying can generally be defined as deliberate and hurtful behavior repeated over a period of time or in isolated occasions, whereby somebody deliberately intimidates or harasses another. Other forms of bullying may include any combination of physical, emotional and verbal abuse. Bullying affects everyone. It can be seen in the community, in the workplace and especially in our schools
    Of course, bullying is nothing new. Our immediate concern as caring citizens who purport to believe that our children are our future and our most valuable resources must seriously be about the task of curtailing this insidious behavior .When children kill themselves or feel like committing suicide because of being bullied, it is our responsibility as adults, parents and professionals, to go to work immediately and get the job done.  Perhaps, we can never completely eradicate such behavior due to the sociological, emotional and psychological ramifications surrounding it; we can do a much better job of curtailing bullying and minimizing the hurt and isolation that accompanies the victimization.
   Parents certainly cannot cure this malady alone as they have no control over the behavior of children outside their homes. We can expect parents to listen to their children who may fall victim to this behavior and seek remedies from experts or from those whose position it is to oversee the affairs of children—to keep them safe.
   What agency or institution is more directly aligned to oversee the affairs of children than our schools, both publically and privately? Of course, here we go again, placing a gigantic social burden on the shoulders of our school systems at a time when local and state governments seemed to have turned their backs on public education professionals due to recent economic downturn. How about our churches? We seem to hardly ever hold them accountable for this aspect of humanity; this is a subject for  a later date. Let’s not wait too long for addressing this area. And then, there are other agencies receiving government funds just as our public schools do whose missions are to assist with social maladies, but we tend to ask, who is more directly involved on a day-to-day basis where the rubber meets the road and where the children are most victimized than our schools?  Thus, our schools must rise to the occasion and bear the burden if we genuinely are concerned and care about our “most valuable resources,” the children.
If our schools are to tackle this problem head on, then it is going to take more than bullying policies. Reactionary approaches have been the status quo. Meaningful prevention strategies to decrease the hurt and pain that our young victims endure must be implemented. We can, if we choose and truly care enough, come very close to putting a halt to this cruel and ongoing anti-social behavior.  The answer to this age-old problem has always been right here in our own back yards. There has never been a reason for us to have to travel over the rainbow as Dorothy did in “The Wizard of Oz”.
   The answer is to build character. We build character when we implement character development programs that teach our young people and ultimately our community the “Golden Rule”. Understand that there will be naysayers who will decry that it is not the role of the school to teach what should be taught in the home, churches, mosques, and synagogues, but can we allow another decade to pass and watch so many children literally dry up on the vine and die as it is occurring across these United States of Americam--the same America that we boast of as being the greatest nation on the planet? Early on we must denounce such naysayers and not allow them to distract good intentions, for there is a war going on, and at this time, any detractor can easily be seen as the enemy.
   It is true that our school system attempted to implement a full-scale character development program, and continues to have vestiges of this program in several of our schools.  CMS experts should examine the remnants of this program to learn why it failed to continue as a viable program to contribute to the overall development of our children. Like any good and effective program, there must be support from the top. This support has to be more than lip service from the superintendent, and must be well-understood and approved by the school board, top administrative teams as well as community leaders. We came close to having this buy-in before, but that which tore at the mere fabric of this program and prevented it from flourishing and making a difference for boys and girls has been, sorry to say, the fact that character has to be modeled on a day-to-day basis from top down. If the leader or leaders lack character, then the program is doomed; it does not stand a chance for survival, and if we are fair to ourselves, it should become quite clear as to how such a wonderful and well intended program could have corroded over the years, even though there were always a handful of schools that implemented state of the art character development programs.
   Good and effective character development programs teach children, staff members and parents, first of all, what it means to be “good”. What is good behavior? What is a good attitude? What is good attendance?  What are good grades?  Character is knowing the good, believing the good and doing the good. We teach character through not assuming that children understand it already when they enter our schoolhouse doors, but making sure that they have  opportunities to be actively involved in experiences where they are immersed in the principles of responsibility, respect, perseverance, cooperation, kindness and caring, fairness and justice, and the list goes on. Our ultimate goal is to teach civility and good citizenship.
   When character development programs are implemented effectively, they are seamless; they are not seen as another program to be dumped upon the many others that are mandated by local administrators and the state. Character becomes the culture of the school and is integrated into all that takes place. Bullying has no place in such an environment and will eventually eradicate itself. Even adult bullies feel out of place when character and “goodness” become the norm. Bullying and “goodness” cannot coexist.  To solve the problem of bullying, we must all step up to the plate. We must all have our character and moral compasses checked.
   Let us curtail bullying today; let us teach Character.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blog 119: Life's Lessons in Charlotte

By Nicole Roper
(Guest Writer)

     I moved to Charlotte in April 2003 from Atlanta but a long way from my home of Long Beach, California. I moved because I had a new opportunity, to open the University of Phoenix in North Carolina.  I was 29 years old, married, with a 2-year old daughter, and pregnant with my son. It was a great opportunity for my family and me.
   Charlotte was a perfect city for me. I learned history, culture and a lot about myself. Over my nearly 10 years in Charlotte, I grew, personally, professionally and spiritually.  It was through my church homes of the Park Ministries and later the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church that I learned, no matter where I was, if I "walked by faith", I would be fine.  
   It was in 2009 when I ran for membership on the school board, I learned that I could have a voice and contribute to the community conversation.   It was through this experience that I met Dr. Vernon Herron at the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum.  Dr. Herron always had a kind word to say and a great perspective to share. When I joined the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, it was Dr. Herron who made my children and me feel welcome. He always asked questions of his concern and genuinely wanted to know the answer.
   The nearly 10 years in Charlotte brought several personal and professional changes; divorce, layoffs, new jobs, and new friends. But what I learned was that these situations and people don't define who you are. 
   Spending my 30s in Charlotte was a perfect time in my life because I could continue to explore and that I did.  I found that after being away from home for over 20 years, I am still Nicole from Long Beach, California and that is perfectly fine.  I brought my ideas and values across the country, living in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Houston and Atlanta along the way. As I met people through work, politics, church and community projects, I continued to gain confidence in my personal path. I never understood how my choices and changes would come together, but God did.  He put the right people in my path at the right time to prepare me.
   I left Charlotte in September 2012, with a 12-year old daughter and an 8-year old (soon to be 9) son, because of a new adventure which was my new marriage to Rodney Roper, Jr. We have now moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia where he lives and works.  I am excited for this new chapter in life and for the spending the rest of my life with Rodney. Together, we now have six children. 
    What I learned from the City of Charlotte and the people whom I met along the way, were the right lessons to be passed along to our children. Those lessons include to value our differences, faith and contribution  to one’s community; to be kind to whomever you meet, because you don't know how much they need warmth, greetings, acceptance. (thank you Dr. Herron) and to be known when your season is over
      Thank you Charlotte!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Blog 118: Who else?


By Vernon M. Herron

     Exercising one’s voting right is an obligation and a privilege, which is God given and is socially mandated. The sacred obligation of voting is a continuation of the struggles and pain of our foreparents, for social justice and governmental participation. We are reminded that “a voteless people is a hopeless people.”
     Use the following guide to elect good government. Who else?
 Mecklenburg County 2012 Democratic Candidates

Mecklenburg County Early Voting Calendar and Locations

     Here is a calendar of early voting sites and times. The Board of Elections office is NOT an early voting site.

     --- Weekdays Oct. 18 through Nov. 2: Hal Marshall Annex, 618 N. College St. operates 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Other sites below operate 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

     --- Weekend hours for all locations: Saturdays Oct. 20 and 27 and Nov. 3: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays Oct. 21 and 28th: 1-4 p.m.

     Other sites in addition to Hal Marshall Annex:
Beatties Ford Road Library, 2412 Beatties Ford Rd.
Bette Rae Thomas Rec Center, 2921 Tuckaseegee Rd.
Cornelius Town Hall, 21445 Catawba Ave, Cornelius
Gibson Building, 11430 N. Community House Rd.
Hickory Grove Library, 5935 Hickory Grove Rd.
Independence Regional Library, 6000 Conference Dr.
Main Branch Library (Downtown), 310 N. Tryon St.
Marion Diehl Rec. Center, 2219 Tyvola Rd.
Mint Hill Library, 6840 Matthews - Mint Hill Rd.
Morrison Regional Library, 7015 Morrison Blvd.
Mountain Island Library, 4420 Hoyt Galvin Way
North County Regional Library, 16500 Holly Crest Ln., Huntersville
Old Bradford Clinic, 196 South Trade St, Matthews
Rameses Temple, 4919 Beatties Ford Rd.
South County Regional Library, 5801 Rea Rd.
Steele Creek Library, 13620 Steele Creek Rd.
Sugar Creek Library, 4045 N. Tryon St.
UNC Charlotte (Cone Center), 9201 University City Blvd.
University City Regional Library, 301 E. W.T. Harris Blvd.
Veterans Park, 2136 Central Ave.
West Boulevard Library, 2157 West Blvd.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Blog 117: Like Father, Like Son

By Vernon M. Herron
Photography by William Youngblood

     It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” If that be true, we give you both today, in the hope that positive news is better than a negative reality. Five boys give a positive view of their dads. 
     This is the third of a series on father/son relationships. It speaks volumes of the need for good parenting. This blog accentuates the positives and eliminates the negatives.

    Heroic…Impressive…I love my dad, Anthony McGhee, because he is more than my father but my best friend. He is constantly there for me with uplifting words, laughs, and tough love. I want to be just like him as a hard working, courageous man in all endeavors.

     I love my dad Tommy. I want to be just like him because he is a strong man. My dad takes care of the family and makes sure that we are safe. He is a fun person to be around and is always there when you need him. 
     My dad is a cool guy and I am sure he knows that. Whenever we go out together, it makes me feel good because I have a father who wants to hang out with me and to be there for me. It is a good feeling that I want to pass on to my children. This is why I love my father. 

     “I am blessed to have J. B. Gammon as my beloved father. We are friends. We have a good life together. He guides me as one traveling toward “the unknown.”
     He teaches me the difference between truth and error; he provides well for me; and we worship, plan and play together. I love my dad.”


My Father, My Mentor
My dad fulfilled his wishes and my dreams.  He is everything I could ask for in a father.
When I was a little boy in elementary school, the highlight of my day was when my father would take to me to school, stand in the hallway and watch me go into my classroom.   One day the principal walked out of her office and saw my father standing there and said 'Mr. Mikell, I can see Brandon is the apple of your eye.'    
      “I’ve always been able to depend on my dad.  If he said he was going to do something or be somewhere, he ALWAYS kept his word.   That was a great lesson I learned from him, to always be a man of my word. 
My dad taught me many things -  the value of having good character, being honorable, being kind and especially being respectful to ALL people/
     My dad, Kelvin Mikell, is not only my father, but my mentor.
I am thankful to my dad for showing me the path to a godly life and for cultivating in me a desire to know my Heavenly Father.  My life and my relationship with God are proof of the power of a father's love.

A Father's Love...

A father's love is unconditional.
It's stronger than anything man can make, a bond that's unbreakable.
A father's love is timeless, it endures forever. He needs not to speak it, his actions are filled with the words my heart can clearly hear.
A father's love is more valuable than money or bank can hold, it's priceless and could never be sold.
His eyes are my eyes. His heartbeat is my heartbeat. He is me and I am him. I am my father's love.

      What more needs to be said?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Blog 116: My Beloved Father Whom I Know

By Joshua Blair Gammon

     While blog 115 spoke of a father “I Never Knew,” because of death, I write this blog 116 to describe my beloved father whom I know quite well. Our relationship, his guidance, leadership, teachings, examples, longevity and love affirm that “I am blessed” to have J. B. Gammon as my beloved father. We are friends. We have a good life together. He guides me as one traveling toward “the unknown;” he teaches me the difference between truth and error; he provides well for me; and we worship, plan and play together.

     This has been a life’s long journey. I am 16 years old, born in Tennessee; am a Junior at Mallard Creek High School where I’ve been a part of the Student Government since my sophomore year and the Chorus since my freshman year. Since my father teaches that “one is becoming everyday what one will be,” I always try to help others.

     I’m a life scouter in the Boy Scouts movement, going up for my Eagle Scout rank. For my Eagle Scout project, I provided books for CMS’s title I elementary schools. I did a book drive at my church, The Friendship Missionary Baptist Church where we collected over 2,000 books! I’ve been in Boy Scouts for over 9 years and I’ve collected over 25 merit badges.

     My father has always told me that I could be anything I wanted to be if I work hard and have faith in God. He also taught me the meaning of leadership and being responsible for my own action.

     By the way, if any beau with an alternative motive wants to meet me, you must take your turn in line, because I plan on going to college and majoring in Journalism. After I graduate, I want to work for The Charlotte Observer or the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and work myself up to the position Editor-in-Chief.

     When Josiah Gilbert Holland prayed and wrote, “God Give Us Men,” God answered that prayer through my beloved dad whom I love, respect and cherish.

God Give Us Men
God give us men. The time demands strong minds,
Great hearts, true faith, and willing hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor; men who will not lie;
Men who stand before the demagogue and
Damn his treacherous flatteries without winking;
Tall men, sun crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty and in private thinking.
For while the rabble, with their thumb worm creeds,
Their large professions and their little deeds;
Mingle in selfish strife, lo, freedom weeps, 
Wrong rules the land and waiting justice sleeps. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blog 115: My Father Whom I Never Knew

By Vernon M. Herron
     The Biblical definition of marriage is a union between a male and a female. The traditional family consists of a father, a mother and offspring(s). I have written many times about my mother but today I write about my father, Samuel Joe Herron, Sr., who died at the age of Forty-seven and one year after my birth. Consequently, I never knew my father through a father-son relation, his character, nor his mental make-up. I did get a glimpse of him through family stories, an outstanding family griot (family historian), census records and a treasured picture which you now see.
     Through this blog, I will present my father whom I never knew, but like-wise, we will see and note genealogical techniques illustrated as a demonstration to show how we move from “the unknown to the known.”
     There are two ways to study family history. You may study in an ascent fashion or in a descent fashion. Family history starts with one-self and progresses upward to an ancestor. Genealogy is the study of the origin of family which descends from an ancestor.   
     In 1950, my father’s brother John Herron, a scholarly family griot (French- pronounced- gree-o), meticulously, methodically and orally gave this writer the outline of the Herron family in a descent fashion. It covered several generations. I will mention five of them.
     Here is a diagram of Uncle John’s revelation as recorded in my family history book.

     Here is how Uncle John’s revelation is recorded in my family history book.

 The Numbering System
     The backbone of genealogical information is its number system. There are three numbers which may be associated with an individual: the identification number, the generation number and the birth order number. Each individual discussed is assigned an individual Arabic number. Then, each head of family is given a generation number which appears in superscript following the first name. Finally, each child is listed under a head of household and is given a small Roman numeral indicating his or her birth order in that family.
     While I realize that many families may not be as fortunate as I in having an informed griot, there are the options of a City Directory and the census records. Try the census first, beginning with the last published year and work backward in ascent fashion.
     Now, let me tell you a bit more of what I learned about my father from the above mentioned sources. 
     First, he was the grandson of Richard and Minerva Herron who constituted the first known structured African American Herron family in the Piedmont of North Carolina in 1870.   
      Secondly, he was an entrepreneur, having at one time operated a cafĂ©, a barber shop, and a pressing shop. Even though I found no will leaving capitol, he died leaving my mother with small children to rear alone. Father Samuel was active in the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church at the Brevard Street location, having served on the Usher Board. He is buried in the old Galilee Baptist Church’s cemetery on Nations Ford Road in Charlotte, NC.
     Family stories, a well organized family griot, census records and other memorabilia gave me a glimpse of my father whom I never knew,    but I am grateful for the glimpse I saw.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Blog 114: Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?

By Vernon M. Herron

Spirituals are symbolic yet they are firsthand historical documents which may reveal, motivate, inform or even challenge our theology. One Spiritual in particular, asks the question, were you there when they crucified my Lord? In parts, it goes like this:

            Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
            Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree (Cross)?
            Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
            Were you there when He rose up (arose) from the grave?
            Oh! Sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
            Were you there when – (It all happened?)

During the last few days, I asked this question to a few of my friends and received the following responses:

            “I was not there but I was remembered.”
            “No, but there are situations when I feel like I know what it was like.”
            “No sir, I was not there.”
            “Well, they crucify Him yet today, so maybe I was there.”

When Jesus, the Christ, God’s only Son was whipped with many stripes and crucified on a Cross, He suffered and experienced a SUBSTITIUTIONARY DEATH i.e. death on our behalf for the sins of the world. VICARIOUSLY  we were all there, including the past, present and future.

The dictionary gives three distinct meanings of vicarious as a substitution.       
1 Serving as a substitute for the benefit of another.
            2 Suffered by one person as a substitute for another.
            3 Experienced the sympathetic participation of another.

Vicariously, we were all there indeed, because He carried the sins of all mankind “with Him there.”

Read Isaiah 53 for a full view of the vicarious sacrifice of Christ. Let me quote selected verses from this chapter.

He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and
we esteemed Him not. Surely He hast borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and
            afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for
            our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with
His stripes we are healed…He was numbered with the transgressors and He bare the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.

At times, Spirituals challenge our theology and our Biblical knowledge. Notice the Biblical reference for each question raised by the song:

            Were you there when they crucified my Lord?      John 19:18
            Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree (Cross)? John 20:25
            Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?  Mark 6:29
Were you there when He rose up (arose) from the grave? Luke 16:3;Acts 10:41.

Oh yes, we were all there!! Let there be no question about it!!!

Spirituals have symbolic, hidden and implied meanings. Each is worthy of examination. Let us look at a few of them.

Wade in the Water
Wade in the water, wade in the water children,
wade in the water, God’s gonna trouble the water.

According to Queen Sound’s Black History, this song relates to both the Old and New Testaments: Exodus 14 and John 5:4, but we also know that Harriet Tubman
sang this spiritual as a warning to runaway slaves. To escaping slaves, the song told them to abandon the path and move to the water. By traveling along the water’s edge or across a body of water, the slaves would throw chasing dogs and their keepers off the scent.
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Swing Low, sweet Chariot, coming for to carry me home.
Swing Low, sweet Chariot, coming for to carry me home.

I looked over Jordan and what did I see?
coming for to carry me home-
A band of angels coming after me!
coming for to carry me home.

Songs like “Swing Low” and “Steal Away” referred to the Underground Railroad, the resistance movement that helped slaves escape from the South to the North and Canada. Yet, still they expressed a desire for a return to the mother land of Africa.

The state of Virginia passed legislation forbidding a call for assembly “by beat of drum.” Thus, the slaves developed another secret code. It called for a secret meeting in the woods early in the a.m. Here is the song.

Let Us Break Bread Together

Let us break bread together on our knees,
Let us break bread together on our knees,
When I fall on my knees, with my face toward the rising sun,
O Lord! Have mercy on me.

When asked, were you there when they crucified my Lord? You can say “yes” with an understanding of Jesus, the Christ’s death which vicariously placed us there. When we hear other spirituals, let us think of the implied message.