Amid the fireworks and celebrations of Independence Day, might we remember (or come to know) a leader from our past who would be 200 years old this July 4th?
John Jasper was born into slavery in Fluvanna County on July 4, 1812 as the youngest of 24 children. On July 4, 1839 at the age of 25, Jasper underwent a religious transformation on the steps of Richmond’s Capitol Square. It was a day that changed his life, as he would spend the next 25 years preaching sermons at slave funerals.
At the age of 50 Jasper was emancipated. He was a brick cleaner, repairing the Civil War-burned city of Richmond, and still serving at a high demand as a slave funeral pastor.
On September 3, 1867, John Jasper and ten friends held services in an abandoned stable on Brown’s Island in Richmond, founding the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, a strong community of faith that is still present today. It was at the age of 66 (1878) that John Jasper reached a peak in his career, delivering “De Sun Do Move” to the Virginia General Assembly. The sermon was so well received, Jasper was requested to deliver it more than 250 times.
In addition, Reverend John Jasper was one of only a few black ministers in Richmond who were authorized by the United States Freedmen’s Bureau to legalize ex-slave marriages, which were not legally recognized prior to early 1866* in Virginia.
John Jasper died on March 30, 1901. His death was the noted headline of the day, overshadowing the burning of the famed Jefferson Hotel.
Learn more about John Jasper and other influential people of his time at WalkInTheirFootsteps.com.