Anna Knight and the Case for Reparations

On February 17, 2022, Southern Adventist University celebrated its 130th anniversary as an institution, claiming Graysville Academy as its first predecessor when it was humbly established at the corner of Shelton Street and Dayton Avenue in Graysville, Tennessee, in 1892. Less than a year later, however, the academy that would eventually be called Southern refused service to the first Black student to walk through its doors.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11742
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I graduated from Southern in 1999. Oakwood is mentioned in the article and it is two hours away from Southern. Many Black students choose to attend school at Oakwood since the two schools are so close. White students at Oakwood represent 1.1% of the student body. Black students at Southern represent 8.9%.

White students at Southern represent 44.6% of the student body. Black students at Oakwood represent 78.5%. You can decide for yourself which school is more successful with embracing diversity.

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It appears that the racism of the past is finished. Reparation talk of today merely opens graves that perpetuate the racism. In today’s world people are only viewed as people, regardless of ethnicity or financial classification. “Social justice” warriors are on a path to destroy the successes of hard workers, a path to weaken our society by lowering education standards, and a path to pound humanity with guilt as they have bought into the brainwashing of Marxism. Marxism is Godless and creates oppression and hatred.

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To declare that racism of the past is finished is ignoring the realities of today. To combine social justice and marxism is simply a fear tactic. Equality of life, purpose and future is what Christ taught and actively demonstrated to the people of His day, we can do no less. Take the fear and misinformation mongering away!

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“The law of God contained in the ten commandments reveals to man his duty to love God supremely and his neighbor as himself. The American nation owes a debt of love to the colored race, and God has ordained that they should make restitution for the wrong they have done them in the past. Those who have taken no active part in enforcing slavery upon the colored people are not relieved from the responsibility of making special efforts to remove, as far as possible, the sure result of their enslavement.”

  • Adventist Review , January 21, 1896

Even here we read examples of those who yet cannot countenance the notion of nurturing and providing opportunity for those who for generations have been neglected. They imagine that ignoring the stain of slavery and the on-going impacts of racism will nurture equality. They ignore the cries of those in their communities who voice objection to racist policy and attitudes that continue to persist in society. This because they do not experience the impacts of racism they refuse to hear, understand. Instead they treat those who are impacted with contempt and deny them a voice and means to stamp out this scourge.

It is a sin of willful ignorance with many engaged in active self deception to assuage the pangs of conscience. But they do not realize that like those of the 19th century they will not be held guiltless in the eyes of God for words and deeds that perpetuate this great evil.

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I am reminded once again that Loma Linda University and La Sierra University are about 45 minutes apart. However the vicissitudes of traffic can indeed mean the are not as close in terms of time to Oakwood and Southern. Both pairs of institutions have a mediocrity that could be assuaged by their joinder together but those with geographical and other vested interest prevent it.

Oakwood has nothing to gain by joining Southern and would lose the millions they receive as an HBCU. Million’s which Oakwood uses to provide much more generous scholarships to black students than Southern would be able to provide.

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This type of reality is unfortunate, but by not asking why Oakwood had to be that way, why a safe, nurturing environment for Black students is necessary, truth is sacrificed. Oakwood has served it’s mission well and has been blessed of God and to remove its identity violently or abruptly would be a sin. Take time to allow the wounds of the past to heal - don’t rip off the bandage and open the wound.

I once had the same attitude toward both Oakwood and “regional” conferences, but have learned to seek humility and listen to the Black brothers and sisters. Being condemning and judgmental toward either Oakwood or the regionals is to damage God’s work.

Not only that, but the very fact that two of the posts here express this perspective with a grouchy tone instead of sorrow for the sufferings of such a noble person as Anna Knight, as well as contrition for persistent racist attitudes in the white community is troubling. It is a sign to me there is still a long way to go among my fellow white brothers and sisters.

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Thank you for an eye-opening glimpse into early racism at the Graysville School which became Southern, and for glimpses into the amazing life of Anna Knight. The article stated that the first black students came to Southern in 1965. I was a freshman at Southern for the 1965-66 academic year and there were no black students that year. According to my recall the first ones came for the 1968-69 academic year. There were five of them. I regret I don’t recall their names. The Southern Memories yearbook for 1968-69 would confirm whether I recall correctly; sadly, I no longer have my copy. One Sabbath my fellow student and future wife Kristin and I drove three of them to Oakwood College for the day, just to give them a break from what must have been to them a highly unfamiliar and stressful environment. We hope and pray that the Christian spirit of inclusiveness will strengthen at Southern and in all our centers of education.

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