February was Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. From the beginning God has used people from all backgrounds to do heroic things that have changed the course of our country and the world. Share these stories and many more with your child today.
JOHN M. PERKINS (1930-present)
The son of a Mississippi sharecropper, John Perkins grew up in extreme poverty. His mother died from malnutrition before his first birthday. John endured oppressive racism. White boys shot at him with BB guns. He dropped out of school in third grade. When John was seventeen, his older brother, a World War II veteran, was murdered by a town marshal. John fled to California and vowed never to return to Mississippi.
John worked as a janitor and a welder. He married Vera Mae Buckley in 1951, and the couple had four children. Their son Spencer took John to a Bible class. “In that Sunday school, I finally met Jesus,” John said. “Almost immediately God began to do something radical in my heart. He began to challenge… my hatred toward others…If I had not met Jesus, I would have died carrying that heavy burden of hate to my grave.”
28 In 1960, Perkins returned to Mississippi to establish the Voice of Calvary Ministries. A bold spokesperson for civil rights, he endured harassment, beatings, and imprisonment. Perkins returned to California in 1982 to establish the Harambee Ministries in northern Pasadena, a community with a high crime rate. He started Good News Bible Clubs, technology centers, and internship programs.
The author of several inspiring books, Perkins has received fourteen honorary degrees from colleges across the country. The John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation spreads the gospel of Jesus Christ to transform lives and reconcile communities.
SOJOURNER TRUTH (1797-1883)
Isabella Baumfree was born a slave in New York. She had several masters as a child, some of them cruel. At age thirty, she had a vision leading her to the home of a Quaker couple who purchased her to set her free.
She later worked as a housekeeper for a Christian evangelist, converted to the Christian faith, and changed her name. She chose “Sojourner” because God told her she would be traveling throughout the land, and she chose “Truth” because that’s what she would declare to the people. She felt immense happiness in her faith and testified, “Jesus loved me. I knowed it. I felt it.”
She spoke against slavery at churches throughout New England. Because she couldn’t read or write, Sojourner dictated her life story to her friend Olive Gilbert in 1850. She delivered her most controversial speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?” in 1851 at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, chastising white abolitionists for not seeking civil rights for African-American women as well as men.
But with fame came danger too. A mob attacked her so viciously that Sojourner was forced to use a cane for the remainder of her life. On another occasion, a racist streetcar conductor broke her arm.
After the Civil War, Sojourner petitioned the government to allow freed slaves to purchase land in the West. She worked tirelessly for racial equality until she retired at age 85.
More of God’s heroes are waiting for your little one to discover at courageousworldchangers.com.