BlackPast.org Facebook BlackPast.org Twitter

Donate to BlackPast.org BlackPast Blog
  • African American History
  • African American History in the West
  • Global African History
  • Perspectives

NOTE: BlackPast.org will not disclose, use, give or sell any of the requested information to third parties.

8 + 9 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

Rock the Vote

NAAAS & Affiliates 27th Joint National Conference

Shop Amazon and help BlackPast.org

Blackpast.org in the Classroom

Woodbey, George Washington (1854- ?)

 

Image Ownership: Public
Domain

Born into slavery on a plantation in Tennessee, George Washington Woodbey was largely self-educated and as young man supported himself as a miner and factory worker before becoming an ordained minister in 1874 and pastoring churches in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. By the mid-1880s Woodbey, a riveting and eloquent public speaker, had adopted the cause of social reform in America.  He was Nebraska’s Prohibition Party’s candidate for lieutenant governor in 1890 and was the party’s candidate for Congress in 1894.  Woodbey later bolted the Prohibition Party to endorse William Jennings Bryan of the Populist People’s Party in Bryan’s failed 1896 presidential campaign. 

By the turn of the century Woodbey had become a committed socialist and allied himself with Eugene V. Debs’s Socialist Party.  So impressed with Woodbey’s ability to captivate and inform crowds on the street corners of Omaha, A.W. Ricker, chief editorial writer for the socialist newspaper, Appeal to Reason, as well as Ricker’s associates, were of the opinion that “Comrade Woodbey is the greatest of living negro in America.”

Upon relocating to San Diego, California in 1902, where he pastored Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Woodbey became one of the region’s most respected socialists.  Woodbey preached the cause of socialism across the state until at least 1923 and on several occasions was physically assaulted and jailed as a result.  He publicly challenged the strategy of racial improvement advocated by Booker T. Washington, who Woodbey believed was a tool of exploitive capitalists.  He also wrote three widely read booklets and asserted his brand of Christian socialism--defending the poor against the rich-- as consistent with the most revered teachings of the church.  Woodbey served on the executive board of the Socialist Party of California.

Sources:
Philip S. Foner (Ed.). Black Socialist Preacher. San Francisco: Synthesis Publications, 1983; Robert H. Craig. Religion and Radical Politics. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.

Contributor:

San Diego State University

Entry Categories:

Copyright 2007-2017 - BlackPast.org v3.0 NDCHost - California | blackpast@blackpast.org | Your donations help us to grow. | We welcome your suggestions. | Mission Statement

BlackPast.org is an independent non-profit corporation 501(c)(3). It has no affiliation with the University of Washington. BlackPast.org is supported in part by a grant from Humanities Washington, a state-wide non-profit organization supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the state of Washington, and contributions from individuals and foundations.