A Political Ecclesiology of Organizing

In 1918, nearly fifty years after his father and mother moved to Kansas, anticipating the movement of hundreds of thousands of Exodusters —Black freedpersons leaving the post-Reconstruction south for Kansas—George Washington Woodbey returned to his East Tennessee birthplace as part of a national speaking tour.[1] During his time back in Johnson City, Tennessee, he visited the old plantation in what is now called Mountain City (then Taylorsville) where he had been born into slavery in 1854, as well as a farm in a nearby county that his father had rented from a wealthy, previous slave-holding family after he returned from the Civil War. On the 1918 trip, Woodbey gave lectures to hundreds of people where he addressed the history of Black Americans. Later, in a document reflecting on his travels he notes the importance of schoolhouses and churches in his own life and to Black Americans more broadly. He writes of being baptized in the white Baptist church that his mother, grandmother, and grandfather had attended. Reflecting on this journey through the land in which all of his family members were born into slavery and raised in white churches until emancipation, Woodbey writes:

This sort of relation(ship) may seem strange to this new generation. So much that many are inclined to believe that these slave holders were not Christians. But if we can be Christians today and favor a system that permits a few men to own all that the great masses have to live upon, and thereby starve and freeze the workers to death for the sake of profits, then there are no reasons which these slave holders should not be called Christians.[2]

For Woodbey, the evils of slavery and capitalism were not too dissimilar. Indeed, in the dedication of his first book, What to Do and How to Do it or Socialism versus Capitalism, he describes himself as “one who was once a chattel slave freed by the proclamation of Lincoln and now wishes to be free from the slavery of capitalism.”[3] As he suggested in Tennessee, there were slave-holding and abolitionist Christians, just as there are now socialist and capitalist Christians. The battle is not between Christianity and secularism, but instead between a Christianity of capitalism and a Christianity of the Bible that teaches the liberation of the oppressed, a spirit of brotherhood, and cooperative economic principles.[4] Woodbey understood that a Christianity that didn’t assert practical economic and political action could not bring about social equality between Black Americans and whites, let alone political or economic equality.

But the precise shape of that action can be challenging to ascertain. Today, churches and people of faith are encouraged to organize, as if organizing were a self-evident enterprise. Social media is awash in calls for churches to create spaces for dominated or exploited people or social justice issues, but churches and religious organizations often lack examples for what is supposed to be done once those spaces are created. There is a difference, for example, between holding an event on racial justice and organizing one’s religious institution to act powerfully by divesting from racial capitalism and constructively contributing to a democratic culture and community apart from it. That lack of understanding leaves unexplored the underlying power relations that uphold structures of power and leaves people uncertain what organizing actually means and how to do it well, acting together powerfully in public to cause change.

Moreover, progressive and leftist social movements often see religion and churches as part of the problem, not part of the solution. This is especially true after the January 6 insurrection, and it is certainly the case that some forms of Christianity fund and motivate antidemocratic, white supremacist currents in our culture today. But Christianity is not one thing. There are certain traditions and movements within Christianity that demonstrate Christianity’s power as a liberating force. Religion is part of the problem, but it can also play a key role in imagining and constructing an alternative.

Woodbey keenly understood Christianity’s spiritual and ethical power for democratic socialist movements against racial capitalism, though he most likely wouldn’t put it in those terms. He was a part of a small movement of Christian radical social gospelers, who, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, argued that churches are key to building radically democratic movements. Without the churches, they argued, democratic movements in the United States were not only weaker but theologically and ethically adrift. This political ecclesiology of organizing might be summed up in one simple claim: people organize to protect and fight for what they hold sacred.

The life and work of Woodbey is an excellent example of a political ecclesiology of organizing. A Baptist preacher, he was the Socialist Party of America’s first Black organizer and an adept strategist in organizing churches for economic democracy. But the historical archive, for as much as it can tell us about Woodbey, has unsettling silences. Building a political ecclesiology of organizing today can be inspired from examples like Woodbey, but only if we have ears to hear the sounds and silences of the Spirit.

Historical Caveats

Movements that address deep racial, economic, and political injustice can turn to Woodbey’s example for guidance on what organizing means and how to do it well. But the silences of the archive—what we don’t find in reporting on Woodbey or in reading his writing—can also push us into different political theological registers.

But first, a related caveat.

My own reading of Woodbey’s life and work is informed by my position as a white scholar far removed from the experience of slavery and Jim Crow, which Woodbey experienced his whole life, and which many Black radical thinkers return to as context and resource in making their critiques of racial capitalism.[5] Reading across such a historical, cultural, political, and economic distance raises the prickly, yet necessary, reflexive question of how my own world obscures and prevents me from hearing what Woodbey is really saying. There is certainly a risk of inserting my own political, social, and economic visions into the past in order to construct a useful history for the present. And while anachronisms and Whig histories must be avoided, the success of this strategy also depends on attending to the silences in Woodbey’s life and work.

Stephanie Smallwood, in her groundbreaking work, Saltwater Slavery, attends to similar silences of the archive by reading the “mathematical reasoning” of seventeenth-century slavers. Mathematical reasoning utilizes a “political arithmetic” that figures humans “not as subject of a social history, but as objects or quantities.” The archive silences human subjects by transforming human agents into a body of quantitative archival material. By reading the “more hidden, internal transcript,” Smallwood argues, we encounter a “fuller story—the human story of the Atlantic slave trade.”[6]

In Woodbey’s case, the silences are not so sweeping. He wrote and traveled widely: two of his books were published, dozens of his pamphlets were carried across socialist periodicals, and he was almost always on the road. And yet the silences are still there.

Woodbey’s early life in post-Reconstruction Tennessee is largely unexplored, and many scholars who have written about Woodbey continue the line that after 1917 there is little to report. In part, this is because the pieces of evidence that exist are newspaper clippings of his participation in ecclesial bodies—attending national and local church gatherings. These sporadic and piecemeal bits of evidence pose questions about the proper relationship between intellectual history and social ethical criticism. That is, when reading writers of the past, one temptation is to focus so intently on a specific situation that we fail to see how a historical example brings to light theological and political resonances in our own practices.

So how can we read in a way that allows for the presence of the past to break open new theological, political, and economic imaginings while also attending to the urgencies of our own context? And conversely, how do we ensure that we listen to the sounds of the Spirit as we encounter such figures and do not allow our own thoughts to cloud our vision?

When I read Woodbey, I try to pay attention to his words and his context, to how they do or do not resonate with my own. I develop reading strategies that seek to attend to this holy work of listening, like reading around Woodbey’s ecclesial and educational context as a child when he doesn’t address the topic directly. In the end, however, the Spirit moves within, beyond, and apart from me, and such reading practices neither secure nor control the theological insights that have and will continue to emerge from his writings. Woodbey’s writings still will speak apart from me. So my goal is to introduce other readers to Woodbey, trusting that the work goes on.

Next, when reading Woodbey, we need to attend to what isn’t said or sayable for him. The point here is to center Woodbey’s agency in his silences as much as in his explicit words. For example, how did the Socialist Party of America’s racism affect Woodbey’s own work? The socialist political party was like many other white-dominated left movements in the early twentieth century: they fought for economic and political equality but not social equality. How did this affect Woodbey’s own writings? We cannot pretend to answer for Woodbey, but raising this question may help us attend to how and why Woodbey formulated and communicated his own positions to various audiences.

Finally, we need to reflect on why we find particular arguments effective and not others. This entails turning the mirror of critique on ourselves. Given these absences and my own subjectivity, the story I tell here is an incomplete one. Nevertheless, I hope that by introducing Woodbey, others can contribute to the story, especially in the areas that my own subjective position has foreclosed.

One thing is clear: there is much to learn from the Woodbey, especially in his analysis of class and racial power in capitalism. As scholars of the Black radical tradition, settler colonialism, and racial capitalism have shown, histories of difference and histories of value develop coterminously.[7] Explanatory strategies that provide foundational accounts by pitting race in class dynamics or class in racial dynamics occlude how the very human practice of capitalist economics requires racial concepts and vice versa. History demonstrates how production of knowledge in capitalism is deeply connected to material systems of exploitation and expropriation. Remnants of settler colonialism, the Atlantic slave trade, coercive immigration from Asia of indentured labor, and the displacement and genocide of Native peoples ripple through our current late-modern capitalist society. Woodbey was not ignorant of these dynamics. His argument in favor of Asian immigration at the Socialist Party of America’s national convention in 1908, for example, was grounded in a theological principle of the spirit of brotherhood, which grounded his cross racial solidarity against dominating capitalist systems. One of the important lessons that Woodbey’s writings demonstrate is that race and class are not static concepts but relational ones that capture material dynamics of power and that evolve together. As such, they must be examined and explained together. This, in short, is part of what the terminology racial capitalism does for our analysis—it helps us keep our vision focused on multiple moving dynamics in history.

The Log Shanty

In a speech during Woodbey’s return visit to Johnson City, he recalls how his great-grandmother, grandmother, and grandfather were all enslaved in various small plantations in the area. Slavery in East Tennessee in the mid-1800s largely consisted of small, diversified farms with fewer than ten enslaved persons. The small number of enslaved peopled at each farm was not necessarily to the enslaved people’s benefit, as it kept them in constant and close relationship with their white slaveholders.[8] For instance, Woodbey’s earliest memories of his childhood included the white Baptist church that baptized him, where whites and Blacks worshipped, yet the economic, social, and political hierarchy was patently obvious and violently enforced, even in church contexts.

Until recently, thanks to the research of Charles Holm and Donald Shaffer, little has been written about Woodbey’s early life in Tennessee. Philip Foner, the historian responsible for turning scholarly attention to Woodbey, claimed that there was little to find of Woodbey’s early life. But new research suggests Woodbey’s brand of socialism was deeply indebted to his exposure early in life to the Black church—not the white church of slavery—as a space of economic, political, social, and religious freedom. Black churches in Eastern Tennessee in the late nineteenth century were some of the few institutional and financial supports for Black farms and Black schools. Such “sabbath schools” and “subscription schools” were places where young Black people, recently emancipated from their slaveholders, could grasp the meaning of freedom for themselves and begin to create a life despite living in a broader culture in which anti-Black racism was deeply sedimented.[9]

Education was crucial to Woodbey’s sense of social, economic, and political freedom, as it was for many Black Americans. When Woodbey’s father, Charles, who may have served as a valet in the Thirteenth Cavalry Regiment in Tennessee, returned from the Civil War, he helped start up the first school for Black Americans in Johnson City. This school was a one-room “log shanty” that had likely served as a home and then a school for white children, until the building was deemed unsuitable and left unused. Then, between 1866 and 1868, three Black churches began alternating services there on Sundays and using the building as a school during the week. Woodbey himself had the luxury of attending only two terms in the log shanty—his only official schooling until age eighty, when, according to the Omaha Guide, “he enrolled in an adult night school and attended rain or shine for eight months”—but he recalled being taught there by Thomas Harrison, who had learned how to read when he was a slave. This building served as the Black school in the area for at least the next twenty years, until a larger building was framed out for Black students in 1889. Even then, the building still served as the Colored Christian Church and a schoolhouse.[10] In 1893, Johnson City finally built a brick building for its Black schoolchildren, and when Woodbey returned to Johnson City, he was invited to speak at that brick school, Langston High School.

The struggle and success of schooling for Black Americans in East Tennessee was largely similar to the rest of the state and country. Black schools faced intense animosity from whites. Black communities wanted their own teachers, and their own buildings, but they also faced apartheid-like conditions and violence with white and Black teachers regularly receiving death threats, and buildings regularly being burned. Despite tremendous odds, Black Americans paid for their own teachers, books, and buildings when they could, along with the aid of the Freedmen’s Bureau and Northern missionary societies.[11]

The three oldest Black churches in Johnson City emerged from that one-room log shanty on top of Roan Hill: West Main Street Christian Church, Thankful Baptist Church, and St. Paul A.M.E. Zion Church. Woodbey’s mother helped start Thankful Baptist Church, the first Black Baptist church in Johnson City, and Woodbey himself preached his first sermon to that community in 1864 in his mother’s house.[12] One of the leaders of this church was a farm laborer and well-respected Baptist minister, William Jobe. Woodbey writes later that it was Jobe who gave him his first New Testament, apparently telling Woodbey as he placed his hands upon Woodbey’s head, “My Boy the Lord has a great work for you to do.” Indeed, for Woodbey, the New Testament serves as an example of the deep connection between religion and education. Many years later he said, “The New Testament was the only book I could get aside from my two school books. I read it over and over, and it seemed so wonderful to me.”[13] The community of Thankful Baptist Church deeply formed and shaped Woodbey. It was the community, after all, that first called Woodbey to ministry and heard him preach at ten years old. Under the leadership of ministers like Jobe, Thankful grew from a congregation of six people in the early 1860s to roughly two hundred people, and still exists today.[14]

For Woodbey, the experience of education was deeply connected to his lived reality as a Black Christian in post-Reconstruction Tennessee. For many others, too, sabbath schools were woven into the experience of Christian worship. Often, schooling happened in between morning and evening church services.[15] For Woodbey, the church house and the schoolhouse were literally the same place. For him, much like us, both education and religion are key tools with which to overcome domination from the capitalist white world.

Unique Spaces of Power, Even Still

Churches today are still unique spaces of economic, political, and religious power. Many places of faith use their property for self-perpetuation or in creative ways to carry out their vocation, including building deeper democratic cultures to realize religion, political, economic, and social freedoms. Mainline denominations today hold vast wealth in their property, and ecclesiastical and theological education institutions often survive by selling off these properties. But some churches, more in harmony with Woodbey’s first experience, use their properties as incubators for worker cooperatives, spaces where workers organize and run their own democratically governed businesses.[16] 

Woodley’s narrative and experience shows that religious, political, and economic democracy are deeply connected and that being a Christian is deeply connected to the contemporary concrete experiences of racial capitalism. Likewise, people of faith who are members of church communities can—and should—think creatively about how to organize themselves to build deeper economic democracy, and the broader political economy has a deep relevance for the public expression of Christian faith today. Indeed, racial capitalism incentivizes and de-incentivizes—even using force to do so—certain expressions of religious identity. Churches need to think practically about how to build—from the ground up—political economies that center the power and agency of workers and everyday people. Political and economic power, just like political and economic democracy, need to be built together. Enacting a religious identity that pushes back on racial capitalism presumes an alternative political economy. For Woodbey, being a Christian required enactment of the biblical principles of the cooperative economy through practicable socialist policies.

Again and again throughout the pages of Woodbey’s first book, What to Do, and then in his 1905 pamphlet, The Bible and Socialism, Woodbey makes the connection between the domination of chattel slavery and capitalist domination. Both slavery and capitalism violate the fundamental biblical truth of humanity’s sacred value. Woodbey’s Bible teaches that God stands with the oppressed and the poor; socialism and the spirit of brotherhood, it teaches, is just another name for the golden rule.

Woodbey never conflates his Christian faith with socialism, as some might suspect. Foner notes that before Woodbey left Omaha for San Diego in 1902 he “consecrated his life to the Socialist movement.” But Winston James is right to say that Woodbey “never abandoned his Christian faith, for he saw no contradiction between his religious beliefs and his socialist politics.”[17] It is thus more accurate to speak of Woodbey’s radical social gospel as emerging from an understanding of the Black church as a counterpublic.

Counterpublics are social arenas that contest dominating interpretations of a subjugated group’s identities by inventing discourses to help people build economic and political power despite racial capitalism. Churches that are counterpublics are dialogical spaces, wherein discursive practices contest and challenge each other within the group as the group seeks to build political economic power. In counterpublics, relationships are woven together, including between people who may or may not belong to a particular subjugated group, to form a constituency as the group strives for collective goals. To call churches counterpublics is to put them in a particular economic and political power relationship with the broader society. Counterpublics like the church that Woodbey grew up in are made up of people experiencing—or in solidarity with those experiencing—exploitation and domination. This political ecclesiology blurs reified categories of, say, religion versus secular and is charged with political, economic, and religious passion. As we see for Woodbey, this passion is grounded in the counterpublic life of the Black church of Thankful Baptist Church.

Woodbey believed that there was great potential for the socialist cause in counterpublic churches. The problem, he believed, was that too many pastors were separating “morals and religion from economics.”[18] The spirit of brotherhood taught in the Bible and enacted in socialist politics seeks to establish a “cooperative commonwealth,” which he first came to know at Thankful Baptist Church. Put theologically, the cooperative commonwealth is a vision of society wherein God invites us into covenantal relationships that are economically, politically, and morally significant, relationships that enhance our agency as producers and co-constructors of the world with God. This sort of community is characterized by radically democratic institutions and a distribution of power in all areas of life such that human agents have control over their own productive and reproductive labor. In the vision of the counterpublic, all are finally liberated from white supremacist capitalism.

Jesus instructed his followers to pray for such improvement of earthly conditions, Woodbey tells us.[19] Christ’s message to the poor concerns itself with practical, cooperative economic conditions here on earth. For Woodbey, the spirit of brotherhood, the golden rule, and the cooperative commonwealth all ring in harmony—and they all call back to his early experiences being raised in a counterpublic church that provided for its own education and religious worship, a church that supported its members’ own economic efforts by cooperative efforts on top of Roan Hill in that one-room schoolhouse.

Rebuilding Democratic Cultures

Woodbey reminds us that organizing today is nothing else but the implementation of these biblical principles in our collective lives: democratically governed, worker-led cooperative enterprises that center worker agency. Economic democracy is one step along the way to achieving religious, political, and social freedom under conditions of racial capitalism’s dominant political economy. The church’s task for Woodbey is to carry out the mission and message given by Christ to the poor and oppressed.

Woodbey’s early life in Tennessee deeply formed and shaped his economic, political, and theological sensibilities throughout his entire life. Organizing for him, one can argue, was the enactment of cooperative, democratic socialist political economy in our everyday life. Those were the sorts of spaces that formed and shaped him in Johnson City.

Today, much ink is spilled on the specific sort of activities that constitute organizing—how to do the relational meeting or the listening campaign, how to cut an issue or run an issue campaign. But organizing is more than the specific activities that make up the practice—it is about the enactment of the values that ground the work. Organizing is about rebuilding our democratic culture to ensure the freedom and the flourishing of all. For Woodbey, Black churches were crucial resources for cultivating, articulating, and achieving economic, political, and social freedom, values that deeply characterize the heart of democratic life. For movements today, examples like Woodbey and Thankful Baptist Church are reminders that communities of faith can incubate, support, and themselves be sites of organizing political economic power against racial capitalism.

[1] The term Exodusters comes from the work of Nell Irving Painter; see Painter, Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas after Reconstruction (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1986).

[2] George  W.  Woodbey,  “What  I  Have  Learned of  the  Negro  Schools,”  unpublished manuscript,  n.d.  (c. 1918/1919),  personal  collection  of  Josephine  Woodbey Carlock.  A  pdf  transcript  was  shared with Charles Holm while he was  in  San Diego  researching  Woodbey  in the  summer  of  2019. Holm shared excerpts of  this transcript with the author. George  Woodbey’s  recollections  in this source  were  likely written around the  time  of  his  return to California  in November  1918 after  spending  two years  away  from  the state.  During  this  time he  visited  Kansas  and Nebraska  and  returned to  Tennessee for the  first time  since  his  childhood.

[3] Woodbey, Black Socialist Preacher: The Teachings of Reverend George Washington Woodbey and His Disciple, Reverend G.W. Slater, Jr., ed. Philip Foner (San Francisco, CA: Synthesis, 1983), 40.

[4] Note that I have opted for the gendered term brotherhood throughout to be consistent with the usage within the US socialist movement, the civil rights movement, and the work of Woodbey.

[5] See Robin D. G. Kelley, “Winston Whiteside and the Politics of the Possible,” in Futures of Black Radicalism, ed. by Gaye Theresa Johnson and Alex Lubin (Brooklyn, NY: Verso, 2017).

[6] Smallwood, Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), 2, 2, and 5.

[7] For more on the relationships of class and racial power in capitalism in the social gospel, building off of what scholars in the Black Radical tradition call racial capitalism see Christopher H. Evans, “Historical Integrity and Theological Recovery: A Reintroduction to the Social Gospel,” in The Social Gospel Today, ed. Christopher H. Evans (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001), 1–16. Evans writes that “this basically theological premise for the social gospel—that Christianity must be rooted in faith-based communities committed to social transformation—is worthy of reassessment and fleshing out considering the complexities that confront churches at the beginning of the twenty-first century” (2). Twenty odd years later, the theological premise of the social gospel, and how Christian socialists radicalized this premise, is still worthy of reassessment and what Evans later calls a “critical reappropriation” (10). For an example of how the streams of different racial thought converge, see W. E. B. Du Bois’s analysis of the “doctrine of Negro inferiority”: “The espousal of the doctrine of Negro inferiority by the South was primarily because of economic motives and the interconnected political urge necessary to support slave industry; but to the watching world it sounded like the carefully thought out result of experience and reason; and because of this it was singularly disastrous for modern civilization in science and religion, in art and government, as well as in industry” (Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America, ed. David Levering Lewis [New York, NY: Free Press, 1998], 39). The literature in the Black radical tradition is extensive, but also see Robin D. G. Kelley, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists during the Great Depression (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2015); Lisa Lowe, The Intimacies of Four Continents (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015), esp. chapter 1 and 5; Jennifer L. Morgan, Reckoning with Slavery: Gender, Kinship, and Capitalism in the Early Black Atlantic (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2021); and Cedric J. Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition (Totowa, NJ: Biblio, 1983).

[8] See John Cimprich, “Slavery’s End in East Tennessee,” in Appalachians and Race; The Mountain South from Slavery to Segregation, ed. John R. Inscoe (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2001), including the following: “The dominant pattern of small slave holdings made personal master/slave relationships likely. . . . While it might lead to an intimate, warm relationship, it could also result in suffocating, constrictive supervision and cruel treatment” (189).

[9] See Woodbey, Black Socialist Preacher; Charles Faulkner Bryan Jr., “The Civil War in East Tennessee: A Social, Political, and Economic Study” (PhD diss., University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1978), https://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_graddiss/2667/; Herbert G. Gutman, “Schools for Freedom: The Post-Emancipation Origins of Afro-American Education,” in Power and Culture: Essays on the American Working Class (New York, NY: Pantheon Books, 1987); Cimprich, “Slavery’s End”; Paul David Phillips, “Education of Blacks in Tennessee During Reconstruction, 1865–1870,” Tennessee Historical Quarterly 46, no. 2 (1987): 98–109; Ophelia Cope Daniels, “The Formative Years of Johnson City, Tenn. 1885–1890: A Social History” (Nashville, TN: Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College, 1947); and Troy Lee Kickler, “Black Children and Northern Missionaries, Freedmen’s Bureau Agents, and Southern Whites in Reconstruction Tennessee, 1865–1896” (PhD diss., University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 2005). Much of my information about Hezekiah Hankal and Thankful Baptist Church, as well as Woodbey’s life there, was deeply aided by the research of Donald Shaffer, who provided excerpts from his unpublished biography on Hezekiah Hankal. Charles Holm’s recent dissertation includes two crucial chapters on George and Annie Woodbey and also addresses these topics, “‘To Be Free from the Slavery of Capitalism,'” see esp. 103-104

[10] “Ex-Slave, 83, Interesting Minister: Ran Against Bryan for Senator in Nebr. on Prohibition Ticket,” Omaha Guide, January 30, 1937. For insight on Charles Woodbey and Thomas Harrison, see “Johnson City Fifty-Seven Years Ago,” Johnson City Staff, January 25, 1918. Charles Woodbey’s position in the thirteenth regiment is hard to untangle, but George Woodbey indicates in the latter article that Charles “waited upon” a “Captain Isaac Taylor” in the thirteenth regiment. Shaffer believes this came about in one of two ways: “Charles was either already a free Black American who sought to serve in the Union army and somehow came to know Captain Isaac Taylor in Carter County, or else he fled from Alfred Widby with his wife and children and deliberately took refuge in a Union army camp, presumably in Carter County, and came into the service of Captain Taylor there” (Donald Schaffer, mail communication to author, December 25, 2021). For a history of the school, see Daniels, “The Formative Years,” 58. I am also indebted to Shaffer, whose forthcoming biography of another teacher at the school, Hezekiah Hankal, contains crucial information about Black schools and Black churches during Woodbey’s time in Johnson City, including another teacher, William Perkins. Shaffer has also provided me with a copy of an “unpublished Autobiography” of Horace Leftwich, a prominent Black minister in Washington and Carter Counties, which chronicles the growth of Thankful Baptist Church and was originally cited by Daniels (“The Formative Years,” 53).

[11] See Bryan, “The Civil War,” 299–343; and Phillips, “Education,” 98–109.

[12] See “Ex-Slave, 83,”; Daniels, “The Formative Years,” 63–64; and Horace Leftwich, unpublished memoir, provided by Donald Shaffer, personal correspondence with author, November 23, 2021.

[13] Woodbey, “What I Have Learned of the Negro Schools,” (unpublished manuscript, 1918/1919); and “Ex-Slave, 83.”

[14] Leftwich, unpublished memoir.

[15] Kickler, “Black Children,” esp. 179–217.

[16] For an example of such a sale, see Marty Finley, “Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary Halts 25-Acre Sale,” Louisville Business First, February 20, 2019, https://www.bizjournals.com/louisville/news/2019/02/22/louisville-seminary-halts-25-acre-sale-as.html; and for a thorough introduction to worker cooperatives and their relevance to the Christian church, see Southeast Center for Cooperative Development, “Faith and Co-Ops,” https://www.co-opsnow.org/tool-kit.

[17] Woodbey, Black Socialist Preacher, 6; and Winston James, “Being Red and Black in Jim Crow America: Notes on the Ideology and Travails of Afro‐America’s Socialist Pioneers, 1877–1930,” Souls 1, no. 4 (September 1, 1999): 48.

[18] Woodbey, Black Socialist Preacher, 93.

[19] Woodbey, Black Socialist Preacher, 163.