Charlie Wilcox ’21
James Mars’s Faith
Gowing up going to Catholic school for nine years and a Jesuit school for three, I learned a lot of history, but it was rarely Black History, and never Black History in my home state state. I’ve found that looking at slavery in this way is enlightening. Throughout all my research the man who had the most profound impact on me was James Mars: particularly how he was able to stay so faithful to God even when he was born into bondage at the hands of a man of God. When I read Mars’ autobiography – an accomplishment on its own – the back page was illuminated by a poem Mars’ wrote,
“God never made a slave …
All men are equal in his site
The bond, the free, the black, the white:
He made them all, them freedom gave
God made the man, man made the slave!”
I suppose it was all those years of schooling that made me immediately obsess with this angle of Mars’s life culminating with this event on May 1st. I have been in contact with most, if not all of the local representatives including state senators to invite them to come to this civic event in Norwalk, CT.
Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, Rep. Maria Horn, Dr. Dennis Powell of the Berkshire Taconic chapter of the NAACP, and Talcott Street Church’s Rev. Cleo Graham will help celebrate this amazing man’s life by placing a “witness stone” with the help of Mr. Dennis Culliton.
James Mars was man of many talents and gifts, but above all else, he was a man of faith. Mars was quite literally a groundbreaking member at the Talcott Street Congregational Church in Hartford. He was a fierce defender of Black folks – even assisting in the legal efforts of the captives from the Amistad. He arranged for the legal defense of a fugitive slave girl. He helped stand up one of the states’ first Black school for children. He was a deacon and a shining example of what a Black man could accomplish at a time when they weren’t even afforded civil liberties placing the odds squarely against them.
Furthermore, James’s poetry reflects his views about God when he writes: “God never made a slave.” This quote particularly struck me because at a time when there was so much hatred toward Black people, he made the accurate reflection that slavery was not God’s plan. He not only wanted the institution to end, he also wanted so much more for other Black people in Connecticut.
I am incredibly proud of the work we are doing and hope to continue it further after this event and invite all to help and participate.