1778… John Newton, (friend of William Cowper… see yesterday) slave-ship captain and slave trade investor who became an Anglican cleric and slavery abolitionist, introduced a new hymn he had written for his New Year service – ‘Amazing Grace’…
1944… 6 months after D-day… the ‘Battle of the Bulge’. Casualties topped 100,000; reinforcements were desperately needed.
Up to this point black and white US soldiers had been segregated. General Ike Eisenhower, leading the Allied Forces, made a huge decision to ignore segregation rules.
In his book ‘Fractured’ Jon Yates says: ‘Eisenhower’s controversial decision to integrate Black soldiers into White units did not just help to halt Hitler’s audacious advance. It permanently changed attitudes among the soldiers fighting in those integrated units.’
1968… Yesterday we watched ‘Call the Midwife’. In last night’s episode we saw prejudice against both a midwife and a mother giving birth – just because of their colour.
It included Enoch Powell’s infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech that stirred up our nation with hate and prejudice… fuelling fires of division that are still with us today.
‘Now we are seeing the growth of positive forces acting against integration, of vested interests in the preservation and sharpening of racial and religious differences, with a view to the exercise of actual domination…’
2015… Clem Pinckney was killed in a church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, murdered with eight others in what was considered to be a racially motivated act of terrorism. President Barak Obama gave the eulogy at Pinkney’s funeral:
‘By recognising our common humanity by treating every child as important, regardless of the colour of their skin… we express God’s grace… by making the moral choice to change, we express God’s grace… If we can find that grace, anything is possible…’
President Obama then sang John Newton’s words: ’Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…’
Musing: Slavery, segregation, discrimination, prejudice… Amazing Grace…
John Newton… Ike Eisenhower… Enoch Powell… Clem Pinkney… Barak Obama… John Newton… Amazing Grace.