February in the United States is Black History Month. In honor of that month, each day in February will feature an African-American saint from different periods of the Civil Rights Movements in America.
Nannie Helen Burroughs, 1879 – 1961
Burroughs was born in Virginia but moved to Washington, D.C. at the age of four. While in school she organized the Harriet Beecher Stowe Literary Society and met Anna J. Cooper and Mary Church Terrell, who inspired her to be active in the women’s suffrage and civil rights movements. When she was denied a teaching job because her skin was too dark, Burroughs established the National Training School for Women and Girls so they could make a living and combat the common stereotype of African-Americans as immoral and dirty people through an impeccable work ethic and pride in themselves. She was active in the National Baptist Convention, the National Association of Colored Women, and was appointed to work in the Herbert Hoover administration on a Negro housing committee.
God of revelation, you used your servant Nannie Helen Burroughs to empower the oppressed through the light of knowledge and education. As we struggle against injustice, teach us, that we may go out and teach others. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.
Isaac Myers, 1835 – 1891
Though he was born in a slave state, Myers was born a free man. Educated in a private school because the public schools were not open to blacks, Myers found work as a caulker on ships. When white caulkers protested and went on strikes because of the competition with black caulkers, causing 1000 of them to lose their jobs in response, Myers organized a co-operative shipyard and railway for black workers. He founded the Colored Caulkers Trade Union Society, which was invited to the National Labor Union convention. But when the CCTUS faced opposition from the all-white NLU, Myers formed the Colored National Labor Union. He briefly worked as a Customs Agent and postal service agent under Ulysses S. Grant before returning to the life of a laborer, running a coal yard in Baltimore.
God of creation and laboring, you called your servant Isaac Myers to organize the oppressed and advocate for just working practices. Empower us to work for the safety and good of those who labor alongside us in our daily lives. In the name of your Son, we pray. Amen.