A fascinating and important figure in black American religious history.
Samuel Robert Cassius was born to a slave mother and a white father in Virginia in 1853 and became a member of the Restorationist Movement (Disciples of Christ) while a coal miner in Indiana. For the rest of his long life (he died in 1931 at age 78), Cassius was an active evangelist, prolific publicist, dedicated leader of black Disciples, and an outspoken and uncompromising opponent of racism in religion and society.
An indefatigable preacher, Cassius ranged throughout the Midwest, California, and the southwestern states, founding and encouraging black Stone-Campbell Restorationist congregations. After entering the Oklahoma Territory in 1891, he worked for three decades as an educator, newspaper editor, social activist, postmaster, and Justice of the Peace. Because he consistently incorporated social and racial issues into his religious writings, Cassius often found himself at odds with whites in the Stone-Campbell Movement, the very people he relied on for monetary support. He advocated a Booker T. Washington-style self-help ethos while at the same time firmly resisting racism wherever he encountered it. Largely invisible in a world dominated by such towering figures as Washington, Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, and W. E. B. DuBois, Cassius lived a life of virtual obscurity beyond the circle of the Stone-Campbell Movement. His story is important because, as a racial militant and separatist, he presaged the schism that would engulf and fracture the Churches of Christ in the 1960s, when blacks and whites went their separate ways and formed two distinct groups in one religious fellowship.
By combing through a plethora of primary sources that Cassius left behind in both religious and nonreligious journals, Edward J. Robinson has successfully reconstructed and recaptured the essence of Cassius’ complex and extraordinary life. This book offers the first full-length study of a man of remarkable attainment despite daily obstacles and resistance.