Speaking Up - Jessie Ames - The One Year Women in Christian History Devotional

Speaking Up - Jessie Ames


Jessie Ames didn’t want much. She simply wanted to “create a new public opinion in the South” about racism in the 1930s. How difficult could that be?

What popular belief was she looking to change? She was challenging the notion that lynching black men was justifiable. Those who participated in or condoned lynchings said they were necessary because these executions protected women from being raped by black men. Jessie didn’t believe this was true. She knew that rapes of white women by black men were rare. She believed the lynchings were motivated by race and hatred, not by a true protective instinct. She couldn’t stand to have women’s safety used as a cover-up for hate.

As a devout Methodist active in church women’s groups, Jessie had already been involved in the fight to win women the vote. Now she organized women to speak out against mobs and lynching. She founded the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching (ASWPL). The thousands of women she inspired to join her in the anti-lynching campaign spoke to whomever would listen—law-enforcement officials, churches, social clubs, politicians—and their voices were heard. Through their efforts, eighty-one organizations throughout the country endorsed the anti-lynching pledge that declared lynching was an “indefensible crime, destructive of all principles of government, hostile to every ideal of religion and humanity, degrading and debasing to every person involved.” The number of lynchings in the country decreased dramatically.

Lynchings may no longer be a part of our day-to-day reality, but there are still plenty of injustices. As you look around, what do you see that is unfair in your world that your heart is saying you need to help change?

It doesn’t always have to be a fight. Maybe you see a single parent who is struggling to meet their kids’ needs, and you can help out. Or maybe it’s something bigger that God has laid on your heart, and like Jessie and her racism-fighting sisters, you know you need to speak out, to educate, and to sway the minds of others.

What injustice, small or large, can you help to alleviate?

The LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8

From the Book:

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The One Year Women in Christian History Devotional
By Randy Petersen and Robin Shreeves

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