During Black History month we pause to remember the great impact of African American leaders in this country. In December I received a Christmas card from Kenyon and Betty Camper who are members of the Ezion-Mt. Carmel UMC in Wilmington. The Christmas greeting was a picture of a statue of Louis L. Redding and the inscription read: “Pioneer in the struggle for equality and tireless advocate in civil rights cases of national significance.” This was indeed a unique Christmas greeting and an appropriate one as Christ came to earth to bring equality to all people and as his followers we strive to walk in that path always, not only at Christmas time.
I did a little research (“Diamonds of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore: Seven Black Men of Distinction” by James E. Newton and Harmon Carey) and found that Louis Redding spent most of his life in Wilmington, DE. He graduated from Howard High School, Brown University and Harvard Law School. He was not only the first African American lawyer in the State of Delaware, he was a respected civil rights leader for the entire nation. He was part of the NAACP legal team that challenged the school segregation policies in the Brown vs. the Board of Education case that was heard in the U. S. Supreme Court. Prior to that, “Lawyer Redding” (as he was called), brought a case before the Chancery Court against the University of Delaware, which did not allow black students (Parker vs. the University of Delaware). He won the case and the University of Delaware became the first state-funded undergraduate institution in the country to desegregate by court order. He also successfully challenged other discrimination cases that involved housing, employment and public accommodations.
The United Methodist Church celebrates two kinds of holiness: personal and social. Social holiness is concerned with the rights and dignity of all people. May we take a page out of the book of the life of Louis L Redding and work for the rights of people where we live, work and worship. In that way we truly celebrate Black History Month with integrity.