The fight of rev. Danials to preserve the memory of 201 black slave children that died.
Reverend Danials' Butterflies By
Robert A. Hamm Sr
Today, it is July 1933, and I live in a small town in northern Alabama called Echo Flatts. I was just a negro child of 15-years-old at the start of the year but make no mistake about it; that, this is the last time I was a child.
Our reverend Danials informed us that the Bradley-Morgan mansion, over on the Finch Plantation; just, happens to be the oldest building in town; the last of the grand mansions. He said, "That the plaque on its front door says that it was originally built in 1713 at this very location. Along the right side in the cement are the handprints, both a left and right prints; which, belong to the very first occupants. Two hundred and one small handprints from those first negro slave children that were torn away from their families all the way up in Birmingham, Alabama at the auction blocks.
Those children were housed here exactly seven days; just, like in the Bible when God created the heavens. Then these children ranging from four-years-old up to twelve-years-old were put to work in the fields. No exception had been afforded them; even though, they were children. They worked right next to their adult counterparts and were expected to produce the exact same quotas and not one brick less; just, like The Book of Mosses.
As they died, one by one the bodies were collected and burned by the other slaves. Twenty-one days later the last of those children had been worked to death. Their ashes were spread throughout all these fields down here at the edge of town. To this day the negro community cries for those children. We even have a day that no negros go to work or school. They stay home to be with their families; almost, as though it were a religious holiday. We call this day, The Crying Time. You will see every negro in Echo Flatts, Alabama going to church to cry on August the seventh.
To this day, no houses were built here, no crops have been planted here, and no roads pass by this place. The land is not for sale, and yet it remains unowned. This has many dark memories for this town. However, today we have an option to turn that around in our efforts to preserve the memory of those children and make that mansion our new home for the church."
I took on the project to help raise money to renovate the Bradley-Morgan mansion. Most folks donated something. Some of the people donated many times for this project. A day came that our church had to give the city council a running total of the money raised so far.
Everybody realized that we were past tens of thousands on this project, and it was only sixty-two days into the donation project. Money was pouring in from all over the cotton-growing states.
At this open city council meeting the people spoke out in big numbers. The lines of division were draw and only one voice spoke out against drawing those lines, the mighty rev. Danials. Instantly, it became a racial war over money. Instantly, the threat of real violence was before us again. All those white farmers wanted that money to be spent on faming aid, and the factory workers wanted relief to their causes. Nobody wanted to spend this money on the actual reason it was given, the renovation of the Bradley-Morgan mansion. They took the position that it is their hard-earned money, their white dollars and cents, and they should decide how it is spent.
Our church's position on this matter was clearly stated by rev Danials. "That every person donated to the renovation project. It was intended for that purpose, it was given with that understanding; therefore, in its entirety, that full amount should be spent on this renovation project period, and no exception should be given- just like the children. I feel it is our moral and religious obligation to preserve the memory of those two hundred and one voices from so long ago. From that first child, Ayyub Bradley age six, to the last child of that group, Naheem Morgan age seven."
The town was fighting the civil war all over again. However, our church was standing firm in our convictions. The reverend stated, "It is a fight for honor and humanity. It is a fight for the children's voices to be heard loud and strong; and, for those children to be free at last. To be free at last!" It was their day of deliverance from the locally controlled white historians. In closing rev. Danials said, "That we are that lone voice of those two hundred and one deceased children," and this story chronicles our plight to victory and into the pages of history.