James Solomon Russell vs. Harriet Tubman

Today two saintly souls, both born into slavery, face each other in a heartbreaking Saintly Sixteen battle. James Solomon Russell squares off against Harriet Tubman with a spot in the Elate Eight in the offing. The winner will face Herman of Alaska.

Yesterday Margaret of Castello (IS she related to celebrity blogger Megan Castellan?) defeated Eva Lee Matthews 69% to 31% to reach the Elate Eight.

Don’t forget in all of these post-opening round matchups, you can always head to the Bracket tab to read write-ups from previous rounds. Now, perhaps, you have a photographic memory and perfect recall. But for the rest of us, everything is archived in one handy place, because an informed voter is the best kind of voter.

Time to vote!

James Solomon Russell

James Solomon Russell — priest, church planter, college president, lived in the early-twentieth century in southcentral Virginia.

Why is this important? If you recall your history, you’ll recall that one of the largest rebellions of enslaved people happened in southcentral Virginia. Right before the Civil War, Nat Turner’s rebellion occurred in the county next door to where the Rev. Russell grew up and ministered. The rebellion, and the declaration of martial law in the aftermath, were a traumatic part of local history for Black Virginians.

Additionally, early on, during the slavery years, many plantation owners in Virginia strenuously resisted anyone evangelizing enslaved people on their plantations, worrying that baptism could become grounds for manumission. Virginia actually passed a law declaring that Christian baptism could not be so used in 1667, which opened the door for widespread evangelizing to enslaved people–mainly in the Great Awakening.

All this is to say that when James Solomon Russell arrived on the scene, he was not dealing with lots of folks who were inclined to leap into the arms of the established Episcopal Church (nor was the established church all that excited to open its arms) which makes what he did all the more remarkable.

James himself was one smart dude. His mother gave him the name Solomon, both because she wanted God’s wisdom for him, and she hoped early on he would be a minister. James grew up in a local church before becoming Episcopalian–the Zion Union Apostolic Church. (This church was one of several that formed immediately after the Civil War, because white parishes started kicking out their formerly-enslaved members, and Black people had to reorganize). At a conference of the ZUAC, James proposed that “No man ought to attempt to read in public who cannot read correctly, nor must one take text who cannot read, nor shall any attempt to preach more than one hour.” The ZUAC fell into infighting, and Russell went to the Episcopal Church partly out of frustration. He wrote, in his memoirs, that the exodus of Black folks from white churches was regrettable because, in his mind, while it was true that the church had failed its black members, if they just stayed put, eventually they would have run the whole Episcopal church just through sheer numbers.

Aside from founding a college and founding 37 churches, Russell also founded a black farmer’s conference in 1904–partly to help sharecroppers to stay out debt and to vote (a poll tax had started in 1902). He also was the first black person appointed to the Episcopal Board of Missions in 1923. He campaigned in 1933 to get all references to race removed from the diocesan canons, to allow all clergy full participation in the governance of the church.

Both North Carolina and Arkansas tried to appoint him their bishop suffragan to minister to their black populations, but he declined–saying both that his work at the college was too important, and that a bishop should be for all people–not just some.

Megan Castellan

Harriet Tubman

It is said that Tubman sang songs as signals on the Underground Rail Road. They were Go Down Moses, and, Bound For the Promised Land and Tubman said she changed the tempo of the songs to signify if it was safe for people to come out or not.

There are many quotes that are attributed to Tubman, all about determination and freedom. However, because she was illiterate, not many of her words were written down but most of the quotes attributed to her share her spirit.

Memorable quotes that were definitely attributed to Tubman include: I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say — I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.”

Memorable quotes that have been presumed fabricated but contain her spirit include: “If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

A powerful testament to her life is a letter written by Frederick Douglass to her saying:

The difference between us is very marked. Most that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way. You, on the other hand, have labored in a private way. I have wrought in the day – you in the night. I have had the applause of the crowd and the satisfaction that comes of being approved by the multitude, while the most that you have done has been witnessed by a few trembling, scarred, and foot-sore bondmen and women, whom you have led out of the house of bondage, and whose heartfelt, “God bless you,” has been your only reward. The midnight sky and the silent stars have been the witnesses of your devotion to freedom and of your heroism. Much that you have done would seem improbable to those who do not know you as I know you. It is to me a great pleasure and a great privilege to bear testimony for your character and your works, and to say to those to whom you may come, that I regard you in every way truthful and trustworthy.

Oh that we could live our life in such a way.

Sandra Montes

James Solomon Russell vs. Harriet Tubman

  • Harriet Tubman (75%, 5,059 Votes)
  • James Solomon Russell (25%, 1,673 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,732

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Harriet Tubman: Statue in Harlem, NYC

117 Comments to "James Solomon Russell vs. Harriet Tubman"

  1. March 25, 2020 - 8:01 am | Permalink

    A former slave, church planter and founded of a college or a person who was the subject of a major motion picture.


    • LA's Gravatar LA
      March 25, 2020 - 8:33 am | Permalink

      Oh. Wow.
      *she sighs, almost embarrassed by her chuckling*
      You did it again, Michael!

      • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
        March 25, 2020 - 9:50 am | Permalink

        True that, Michael!

    • Kathleen Martin's Gravatar Kathleen Martin
      March 25, 2020 - 2:00 pm | Permalink

      One of your best, I think.

    • Wendy Mayer's Gravatar Wendy Mayer
      March 26, 2020 - 5:57 pm | Permalink

      I think I’m finally starting to get these

  2. JustMeJo's Gravatar JustMeJo
    March 25, 2020 - 8:13 am | Permalink

    Quite the summary of Harriet Tubman’s work…

  3. Mary E. Winston's Gravatar Mary E. Winston
    March 25, 2020 - 8:14 am | Permalink

    I have known about Harriet Tubman my entire life. I live 34 miles away from her home in Auburn, NY. She is my hero! She is also a great beacon for what our country is going through now – Just keep on going!

    • Wendy M.'s Gravatar Wendy M.
      March 26, 2020 - 12:39 pm | Permalink


  4. Deborah Northern's Gravatar Deborah Northern
    March 25, 2020 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    Hard for me because James Russell founded St. Paul´s College where I worked for two years and I am from VA and the segregated South. However, I had to go for Harriett because she risked her life to free others.

    • Gina Odell's Gravatar Gina Odell
      March 25, 2020 - 10:42 am | Permalink

      Same here, Mary! I’m not far from Auburn, either. Intend to visit her museum and home once our keeping out of society is over. Harriet for the Golden Halo!!!


      • Emily's Gravatar Emily
        March 25, 2020 - 11:56 am | Permalink

        Odell! I knew Mrs. Odell at William Smith College in Geneva where I am from. Are you related? I must ask, I knew her granddaughter, Susan.

        • Amy's Gravatar Amy
          March 25, 2020 - 3:22 pm | Permalink

          Hi, Emily. Gina Odell is my sister. I don’t know of a relative who worked at William Smith College, but you never know. There’s an Odell building in Phelps not far from Geneva. We haven’t found a connection to our family. Of course, I had to vote for Harriet too and would have even without the local connection. What an amazing life.

  5. Emily Knox's Gravatar Emily Knox
    March 25, 2020 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    I found true comfort in the words attributed to Harriet Tubman today.

  6. March 25, 2020 - 8:31 am | Permalink

    Tough choice today, but stamp collecting made it easier:
    I love my Harriet Tubman stamp collection: A full plate!
    To see a block of four Harriet Tubman stamps visit here:
    Also, if you want to deface Andrew Jackson’s face on U.S.Currency, there are stamp-pad ink stamps for that noble enterprise also.

  7. Betsey's Gravatar Betsey
    March 25, 2020 - 8:34 am | Permalink

    Oh, Harriet is already so far ahead of James. Does a come from behind ever happen with Lent Madness? Well, I still get to place my vote and it’s for James. Farmers are getting a bit more respect these days as people are noticing how good it is to have Local food. All be well!

    • Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
      March 25, 2020 - 10:27 am | Permalink

      In my experience, if the person who is ahead at the beginning of the day has 55% or more of the vote, the percentages rarely change all day. Sometimes when the vote is very close, the saint who is ahead can go back and forth and cause partisans white knuckles and upset stomachs until the final decision. We’re not talking about the effect of cheating which can disrupt things for a while until the SEC tracks down the culprits and banishes them into the outer darkness (or somewhere).

    • March 25, 2020 - 12:44 pm | Permalink

      I hope so cause I still think what he said. A bishop should be Bishop of all types and colors of people

  8. Leamarie's Gravatar Leamarie
    March 25, 2020 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    Both these brave people deserve to win, but I have to choose, so I will go with Harriet. Her courage in the face of so much hatred and prejudice, her energy for the long, long marches to freedom, her spirit to bolster the fears of her people all are marks of exceptionality. To add to that, she came in such a tiny package, ie was under five feet tall. She did not let her size stop her from such remarkable deeds. I am for Harriet all the way to the coveted golden halo. Harriet never wavered in her times or her work. May we take her life as an example in these trying times of coronavirus. Never fear, our God is near.

    • Chuck's Gravatar Chuck
      March 25, 2020 - 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Loved the movie Harriet. It didn’t make a point of her height. Now I’m even more impressed by the scene where she crosses the river. I’m trying to trust in God enough to keep going even when the water seems up to my neck

    • Emily Anderson's Gravatar Emily Anderson
      March 25, 2020 - 2:54 pm | Permalink

      This was difficult because both people of color made tremendous contributions to America! Harriet got my vote!

  9. Tony Short's Gravatar Tony Short
    March 25, 2020 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    It appears that James will not make the next level, but he got my vote. Thanks to Lent Madness for giving his information out, I did not know about him. In the past month, however, I have made a couple of pilgrimages to the church where his parents are buried, near Palmer Springs, Va. That church is quite run down and boarded up. James does have a historical marker on nearby US 1.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 25, 2020 - 9:54 am | Permalink

      Is there anything sadder than a boarded up, abandoned church?

      • Laure Linhart's Gravatar Laure Linhart
        March 25, 2020 - 10:43 am | Permalink

        Yes, the burnt out remains of a church/synagogue … <3

  10. March 25, 2020 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    Absurd and crazy to select one here. Both are worthy saints . Reverted to Excel and random numbers, and the Standard deviation stat to say that an even number gets Tugman, it was an odd number, so my vote was to Russell. Retlaw Paaj

  11. LA's Gravatar LA
    March 25, 2020 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    I know this only gets harder as the bracket narrows, but WOW! today was difficult for me. I had voted for James the first round and, while I did not vote for Ms. Tubman the first time, I anticipated and looked forward to being able to vote for her later on…

    When I got to Megan’s line, ” because white parishes started kicking out their formerly-enslaved members, and Black people had to reorganize” I literally had to stop and offer a prayer of confession and repentance for myself and my caucasian-European ancestors. Heart-breaking and so wrong.

    Yet reading both entries I suddenly realized I have a tendency to prejudice for the educated and against those who are not… and seeing what Harriet accomplished anyhow—and her incorporation of song—along with Mr. Douglass’s words of high esteem moved me to cast my vote for her today.

  12. March 25, 2020 - 8:41 am | Permalink

    Far be it from me to railroad anyone into voting my way,
    But Harriet for the Golden Halo!

  13. Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
    March 25, 2020 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    Hmmm. Planting churches or serving the cause of freedom? That makes it easy. I’m on board with Harriet Tubman!

  14. March 25, 2020 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    Such a hard choice. But I voted for Harriet. She risked her life to save others. I do truly admire Mr. Russell and think that he created a path that freedmen and women could also follow to a new and different kind of life that Harriet’s work pointed to.

  15. Scott W. Anderson's Gravatar Scott W. Anderson
    March 25, 2020 - 8:43 am | Permalink

    Harriet was such an awesome movie! Such an amazing person.

  16. Deborah E Kunkel's Gravatar Deborah E Kunkel
    March 25, 2020 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    Ah James, you didn’t have a chance once they included the Frederick Douglas testament. Not that you aren’t worthy, (church planting is important because often freedom fighters are born, nurtured and sent out from churches, never mind the churches that have collectively stood for and fought for freedom) but Harriet is “worthier” .

  17. John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
    March 25, 2020 - 8:58 am | Permalink

    At a time when the Court let men chase
    Down those innocents marked by their race:
    For her deeds, let’s induct her,
    That gallant conductor;
    In Elate she well merits a place.

    • jan's Gravatar jan
      March 25, 2020 - 9:22 am | Permalink


    • Barbara Gay's Gravatar Barbara Gay
      March 25, 2020 - 1:31 pm | Permalink


    • Dena's Gravatar Dena
      March 25, 2020 - 5:58 pm | Permalink
      • andrea's Gravatar andrea
        March 25, 2020 - 11:22 pm | Permalink

        Well said!

  18. March 25, 2020 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    If she gets the Golden Halo, maybe they’ll FINALLY put her on the $20 bill.

    • Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
      March 25, 2020 - 1:38 pm | Permalink

      In the meantime, there’s this stamp-your-own option: https://tubmanstamp.com

      (This is the original–as the saying goes, do not be fooled by imitators! I’m not in the least affiliated commercially; I just think this is a great idea.)

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      March 25, 2020 - 4:15 pm | Permalink

      Doubt the change to the $20 will happen during the present administration. I heard Andy Jackson is too well liked by certain people.

  19. Marian the Lutheran's Gravatar Marian the Lutheran
    March 25, 2020 - 9:03 am | Permalink

    I feel I must vote for Rev Russell. He, too, risked his life in a time of Jim Crow laws and the adage “don’t let the sun set with you in our town.” That he demanded that he should continue planting churches instead of giving in to the political machinations of church bureaucracy is telling of his love for the people and desire to serve God. Ha service “to the least of these”, black farmers in the South, is telling of his commitment to justice.

    • Susan the Lutheran's Gravatar Susan the Lutheran
      March 25, 2020 - 10:54 am | Permalink

      I totally agree. While first thoughts went to Harriet for her willingness to put her life on the line, I also realized that Rev. Russell was putting his life on the line just as much, but in a different way. And his influence, broad and longstanding, directly affected the lives even more people than Harriet’s (Hollywood aside). This was a really tough choice!

      • Pastor Rick's Gravatar Pastor Rick
        March 25, 2020 - 11:19 am | Permalink

        Indeed, Susan, this is one tough choice. The pairings are increasingly difficult as witness and courage and spiritual gifts and spiritual lives seem to shine increasingly brighter. However, in the spirit of Brother Lawrence, who speaks deeply to my heart, I have chosen Ms. Tubman.

  20. Carol's Gravatar Carol
    March 25, 2020 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    My vote today for Harriet, an incredible woman with all that she did!

  21. March 25, 2020 - 9:14 am | Permalink

    Goodness, what a choice! I voted for James since reconstruction was a dangerous period, and James set up institutions that would serve emancipated blacks for years to come!

  22. wilson reimers's Gravatar wilson reimers
    March 25, 2020 - 9:15 am | Permalink

    Both are wonderful examples of God’s work in this world. I went with James because of the far reaching effect of his work and his calling

  23. Margaret Jones Kilmartin's Gravatar Margaret Jones Kilmartin
    March 25, 2020 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    James is falling victim to the Bracket. I hope he returns next year with a better seeding.

    • Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
      March 25, 2020 - 10:31 am | Permalink

      I don’t think he will be eligible right away next year. But I agree I would like to see him in a future bracket.

  24. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 25, 2020 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    Any friend of Frederick Douglass’s is a friend of mine.

  25. St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
    March 25, 2020 - 9:32 am | Permalink

    “An informed voter is the best kind of voter.” The subtweeting is reaching A+ levels here. Both of these figures are greatly worthy to be praised, but I went with the leader within the church structure, who dealt with institutionalized racism on a national scale. With Russell one confronts directly the way law in the US has systematically been used to degrade and injure citizens and non-citizens alike. Up until the 18th century in Europe, one could avoid the death penalty by proving he could read. But here’s Virginia, sealing people into the death-in-life of slavery by making the law a tomb: even baptism cannot free people! Thus decreeth the court in Richmond. What a godless culture the US is. Idolatry is written into American law from the start. You SHALL worship property, and when your property flees dogs, torches, and whips, you shall force your neighbor to submit to your will to get your property back. God help a people whose inheritance includes Dred Scott and the Fugitive Slave Act. Very few blockbuster movies will be made of vestry meetings and general conventions. But getting race removed from diocesan canons is a godly act. And I cannot but be swayed by Russell’s insistence on the importance of reading. An informed voter is one who can read; if one can read, one will not be swayed by the delusional rantings of an orange demagogue to go drink one’s fishtank cleaner because it’s chloroquine. And die. If baptism frees one to live, then we ought to be offering life to all, and the law, including church canons, is one way to make straight the way of the lord. Leaders matter. I voted for Russell.

    • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
      March 25, 2020 - 9:50 am | Permalink

      Beautifully said, as usual. I do wish what you said about literacy were so; but the spread of falsehoods via Twitter et al. shows that it’s just another tool to be used for good or ill, with enormous potential for either, alas, alas.

      • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
        March 25, 2020 - 10:04 am | Permalink

        “What the hell do you have to lose?” bellows the orange mooncalf. Well, one’s life! (And ironically a red voter.)
        When I say “reading,” I mean more than the ocular detection of repeated propaganda in Facebook and Twitter; I mean discerned, thoughtful reflection on language and its meanings. But even being able to read directions is a start.

        • March 25, 2020 - 12:55 pm | Permalink

          Please, if James Solomon Russell could overlook color could we not divide people into red and blue but look upon each other as people.

          • March 25, 2020 - 2:04 pm | Permalink

            Even though my political leanings seem to go along with St. Celia’s, I agree with Mary Beth. Let’s try to counter our current polarities and be one people. And I voted for James, too, partly because this is what he worked for in the church. But mainly because I was pretty sure Harriet would win and I wanted to show him some support!

        • Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
          March 25, 2020 - 4:19 pm | Permalink

          St. Celia, your postings indicate such anger and, yes, even sadness. I’d feel better if you could talk with someone who could give you some hope.

          Regarding Lent Madness, today’s matchup is particularly impossible. Both contenders were liable to be murdered. Both were intensely reviled by some and praised by others.Both were faithful followers of Jesus. It seems to me that Fr. James Soloman Russell helped right the seriously listing Episcopal ship.
          All children are All God’s children.
          I voted for James.

          • Donna's Gravatar Donna
            March 25, 2020 - 5:09 pm | Permalink

            Go St. Celia! Let’s are with you in your righteous anger.

    • March 25, 2020 - 12:07 pm | Permalink

      If we look to the saints to inspire us to a way of life, I gravitate toward those I both admire AND think model a way I in my weakness and uncertainty might be able to accomplish. Sometimes the saints’ lives are so extraordinary I cannot imagine myself following their path. James invites me to walk beside him.

      • Richard J Adams's Gravatar Richard J Adams
        March 25, 2020 - 12:59 pm | Permalink

        May I echo your sentiments. We Americans seem inclined or programmed to prefer big-screen heroes.

      • Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
        March 25, 2020 - 1:41 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for crystallizing the way I’ve been intuitively voting! Both admire and can imitate. I’ve voted for James.

    • Gregory of Ravenna's Gravatar Gregory of Ravenna
      March 25, 2020 - 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Hear! Hear! Well said, as usual, St. Celia! And Rebecca – well thought!

      I welcome the dawning recognition of our nation’s great sin of slavery and the hard, deep work we must do to accept and repair this evil. The wisdom teachers tell us that on our personal journeys we will be confronted with that we need to work with again and again, until we finally take it on.

      here one place to start our journey…

      Mooncalf eh? so apt, on many levels.

  26. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 25, 2020 - 9:38 am | Permalink

    Funny that so many really hard choices are producing lopsided votes. From the comments it seems that people are really struggling with their choices but at the end of the day (sometimes literally — a couple of times I’ve voted between 7 and 8 the next morning) are tending toward the same contestant.

    This morning our choice is between two heroes, one risking her life to free others and the other quietly going about the business of educating others and spreading the Gospel. I had to vote for Harriet, but with regret for James, of whom I had never heard and no less a hero for that.

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      March 25, 2020 - 9:44 am | Permalink

      The ratio gets established very early, within about an hour, no more than two hours, and then it stays fixed throughout the 24 hours. I once thought “we” here on this fragile WordPress thread were “the voters,” but we seem simply to be a ruminative minority. I hadn’t realized there was also Facebook voting, and I suspect the ratio is set early by the Facebook “masses” (a few thousand people) and I do not know what their commentary is like, but it may well be that this little band constitutes a subset of outliers. I enjoy our discussions, though it seems we may not be “influencers” in the larger scheme of Lent Madness.

      • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
        March 25, 2020 - 9:59 am | Permalink

        Are you saying that there’s a separate, and to us invisible, discussion thread going on on Facebook? I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

        • Pamela Duncan's Gravatar Pamela Duncan
          March 25, 2020 - 10:16 am | Permalink

          Davis Dassori, St. Celia., you can’t vote on the facebook page, Its a lovely community page with links to this spot for voting.

          • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
            March 25, 2020 - 10:23 am | Permalink

            Thank you for the information. I thought I had wandered out there once and seen stray comments, and inferred that a separate experience was taking place. Clearly I was not “reading” carefully. I am glad to be better informed.

          • March 25, 2020 - 10:54 am | Permalink

            Thank you for clarifying this. We don’t need any conspiracy theories going around about our precious Lent Madness! It would also be nice to forego inserting political comments.

      • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
        March 25, 2020 - 10:07 am | Permalink

        Interesting. I’ve checked in on FB a few times, but found the conversation much more interesting. I imagine the popularity of FB is due to the comparative ease with which you can chime in—“like” buttons and no need to fill out a form with every comment.

        • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
          March 25, 2020 - 10:08 am | Permalink

          Found the conversation much more interesting here, that is.

  27. Mary Theresa Anderson's Gravatar Mary Theresa Anderson
    March 25, 2020 - 9:42 am | Permalink

    A most difficult one today!!

  28. Penne Smith Sandbeck's Gravatar Penne Smith Sandbeck
    March 25, 2020 - 9:52 am | Permalink

    I have to say, what all James Solomon Russell did in the face of African-American disenfranchisement in the United States, the aftermath of which is generally known as ‘Jim Crow,’ is mightily impressive. The writer should probably have stressed that more in her context (also, was the name of the school St. Paul’s College?). Founding a college and keeping it going, plus helping black farmers at that time was not for the faint of heart. Harriet Tubman will go on to the Elate 8, but my vote is for JSR.

  29. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    March 25, 2020 - 10:04 am | Permalink

    Voting for Harriet today. We must keep going, as she said. Or as my German professor said, keep on keeping on. Right now, this means staying home, for the protection of all.

  30. Chris's Gravatar Chris
    March 25, 2020 - 10:06 am | Permalink

    Oh, the cruelty of the bracket. I wanted the elation of both.

  31. Maryw's Gravatar Maryw
    March 25, 2020 - 10:13 am | Permalink

    It seems almost tragic to have to choose between two high-achieving Black Americans like this! Couldn’t the bracket have been set up to make this less likely? Coronavirus is upsetting enough! Here I’ve turned to Lent Madness for a dose of holy fun as I sit in the midst of the huge red blob on the Coronavirus map that is the NY area, and I encounter more stress!

    • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
      March 25, 2020 - 10:38 am | Permalink

      Today is the Annunciation. Today’s reflection in the Forward Day by Day, written by the Rev. Helen van Koevering, stresses names, in particular “emmanuel”: “a redeeming presence in the midst of disaster.” May you receive a visitation of calm in the midst of the huge red blob. May it pass over you and you be well.

      • March 26, 2020 - 10:30 am | Permalink

        Thank you, St. Celia! Just now read your comment, and I feel better. Still healtjy, thank God! May you be blessed, today and every day.

  32. Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
    March 25, 2020 - 10:13 am | Permalink

    James is very worthy. I found his insistence on literacy and succinctness compelling, and his obstacles to inclusion as well. But—Harriet.

  33. Ruth Douglas Miller's Gravatar Ruth Douglas Miller
    March 25, 2020 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    I too would like to vote for both–for James’s emphasis of knowledge and spirit, and for Harriet’s just plain courage! But as the outcome is already decided, it matters not how I vote, only that I affirm the wisdom in the comments of this community, and highlight the good things I see in our contenders. Love to you all!

  34. Kathie J's Gravatar Kathie J
    March 25, 2020 - 10:19 am | Permalink

    Both of these heroes were worthy to win the day—I wish they had not been put up against one another. I voted for Harriet because of her undeniable courage in working the Underground Railroad. However, the Bishop demonstrated amazing courage through out his life.

  35. SharonDianneFosterPattison's Gravatar SharonDianneFosterPattison
    March 25, 2020 - 10:22 am | Permalink

    Not a difficult vote today for us here in Canada! You should all take a trip to Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada across from Ohio, & Michigan USA where the underground railway ended up in Amherstburg . The black people then dispersed into our Country Canada to be FREE!

  36. Jack Zamboni's Gravatar Jack Zamboni
    March 25, 2020 - 10:26 am | Permalink

    I haven ‘t read the comment stream (no time in this busy time), so others may have gotten there first, but it is utterly wrong of the SEC to have constructed a bracket that pits these two great African-American saints against each other in just the second round, especially as there are so few people of color in the bracket to begin with. I get that the latter problem reflects, in part, the disportionately European bias of our calendar, still extant despite abortive attempts at recent General Conventions to rectify it. But still. The SEC doesnt have to deal with the quirks of the GC legislative process (which Scott, at least, knows well). They are the SUPREME Executive Committe, and could have made a better choice than this. In light of the conundrum they have presented, I am abstaining from voting today. I pledge to vote for the winner of this contest all the way to the end — unless her or she comes up against my parish’s co-patron, Clare of Assisi, my hope for the Golden Halo

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 25, 2020 - 10:36 am | Permalink

      But the SEC didn’t put these two against each other. It is the result of earlier voting. But I guess you won’t read this comment….

      • Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
        March 25, 2020 - 10:38 am | Permalink

        Actually, I suspect they did put these two against each other. Just the sort of LM craziness they favor and probably cackle about to each other before filming Monday Madness.

        • St. Celia's Gravatar St. Celia
          March 25, 2020 - 10:42 am | Permalink

          The brackets used to be random, and people complained that they were having to choose between ancient figures known only through lore and modern people with wikipedia bios. I think the bracket czars have labored to make the early voting a bit more rationalized. However, I will acknowledge that the Barney versus Elmo round was clearly rigged!

        • March 25, 2020 - 2:11 pm | Permalink

          I agree with you, Kathy. I agree that they probably cackle when they give us a terrible choice. Remember when they put the Wesley brothers against each other? And the two Augustines? But it is Lent Madness, after all. It’s maddening, but it’s part of the fun.

      • Jack Zamboni's Gravatar Jack Zamboni
        March 25, 2020 - 10:13 pm | Permalink

        Well, they put them against each other in the sense that if both won in the first round, this would happen. I know they like to give us hard choices, and that’s fine. But there is something about this one that just doesn’t sit right with me.

  37. Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
    March 25, 2020 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    I’m favoring Harriet Tubman for the Golden Halo this year, although it will break my heart if I have to vote against Brother Lawrence in a few weeks. Oh well. The SEC is always superb every year in selecting 32 saints, each one of which is “worthy” of the Golden Halo. Thanks, guys. I love Lent Madness.

  38. Barbara Ross's Gravatar Barbara Ross
    March 25, 2020 - 10:42 am | Permalink

    The first truly tough contest of Lent Madness this season. Tubman is a secular saint if ever there was one, and she’ll easily win without my vote. So, I’m going with the bishop I never heard of, who stayed with the church that had failed its black members and tried to make it better. Also, as a volunteer at a local organic farm, I admire his support for farmers.

  39. March 25, 2020 - 10:56 am | Permalink

    Such a difficult choice. Someone who’s strength and courage have become legend (Harriet) and a worker within the body whose efforts have remained largely unknown and unheralded. Having written that I realize that I’m going to vote for James Solomon Russell primarily because that description of him speaks to so many clergy who have toiled faithfully and unheralded to bring hope and compassion and God’s love to where they have served. I’m pretty sure that Harriet will win this today, but thank you to the SEC for reminding me through James of that cloud of witnesses.

    • Gaye Johnson-Cowell's Gravatar Gaye Johnson-Cowell
      March 25, 2020 - 11:37 am | Permalink

      Thank you Len. I agree wholeheartedly.

  40. Kris's Gravatar Kris
    March 25, 2020 - 11:00 am | Permalink

    I would have split my vote. Half for Harriet & half for James. I realize that isn’t a solution. I’m just explaing why I am supporting the probable loser.

  41. Jane Carter's Gravatar Jane Carter
    March 25, 2020 - 11:01 am | Permalink

    I am madly in love with the Madness and go crazy with nothing to read or vote on on the weekends. I do have a question. This round you have named ‘Elate’ 8. Elate means: to make happy, normally used in a sentence such as: I am elated (thrilled). I wonder if you really mean ‘Elite 8’. Elite meaning: special group that stands out from others. Just wonder. and it doesn’t spoil my elation with the holy contest.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 25, 2020 - 4:10 pm | Permalink

      “Elite Eight” is the level in March Madness (“the other Madness”), so we want to be distinct from that. “Elate” can also mean “rapturous” or “ecstatic,” both of which religious connotations.

    • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
      March 25, 2020 - 5:38 pm | Permalink

      But it doesn’t rhyme! The supremes have dug up the obsolete adjective “elate,” which my dictionary calls “Old Poet.” and defines as “filled with elation,” to make a play on words with “elite.” They will stop at nothing in their relentless pursuit of corny humor.

  42. Erin's Gravatar Erin
    March 25, 2020 - 11:05 am | Permalink

    This is too difficult. Harriet was my pick all the way to the end, but I admit, I’d never heard of Solomon. Helping sharecroppers get out of debt and organizing to vote no doubt had long lasting effects on many families. But I also have never read Frederick Douglass’ letter. Sometimes we see history in a vacuum, not realizing that characters interacted with each other during the same period. I JUST learned this year that MLK and Anne Frank were born the same year.

  43. Sr. Margaret Kentigern, AF's Gravatar Sr. Margaret Kentigern, AF
    March 25, 2020 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    I voted for Harriet. She was amazing. Frankly I think she is going to end up with the Golden Halo. We know so much about her because of the movie and all the subsequent stories about her. Would that I had just a portion of her faith and courage to do what is right, even under the threat of death.

  44. Charles Stuart's Gravatar Charles Stuart
    March 25, 2020 - 11:15 am | Permalink

    Both so worthy of a golden halo, but simply because Harriet Tubman is a shoe-in to win I cast my vote for James Solomon Russell.

  45. Karen's Gravatar Karen
    March 25, 2020 - 11:16 am | Permalink

    Until Harriet gets her Golden Halo, I can not vote for anyone else, no matter how worthy .

  46. Cricket Park's Gravatar Cricket Park
    March 25, 2020 - 11:37 am | Permalink

    Looks like this one’s a runaway.

  47. Joanne B. Parrott's Gravatar Joanne B. Parrott
    March 25, 2020 - 11:48 am | Permalink

    Just keep going, Harriet all the way to the halo.

  48. Katherine Grimes's Gravatar Katherine Grimes
    March 25, 2020 - 11:50 am | Permalink

    I’m a huge admirer of Harriet Tubman, but remember that James Solomon Russell brought freedom, too, as education is another road to freedom. Ignorance is a kind of slavery.

  49. March 25, 2020 - 12:00 pm | Permalink

    It’s Harriet all the way! A general coment: Some of these match ups seem slanted toward a particular candidate. We’ll have one entry seems way less accomplished (however, no less important) to a more celebrated entry. Just sayin’…

  50. Donna's Gravatar Donna
    March 25, 2020 - 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Wise Solomon for his words on lectors and length of sermons. They are certainly words to read, mark definitely take to heart and practice.

  51. john's Gravatar john
    March 25, 2020 - 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Harriet Tubman not only engaged in writing and speaking on important issues, she but her life on the line.

  52. Sandra Leigh's Gravatar Sandra Leigh
    March 25, 2020 - 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Harriet because I see her mission reflected in the work of those who reach out today to help people fleeing war, persecution, or the effects of climate change. I haven’t seen a movie about her, but she has long been one of my heroes.

  53. March 25, 2020 - 12:52 pm | Permalink

    How ironic that today’s two were serving the Lord and saving the country by being “out there” and today we are trying to save the country (and ourselves) by staying “in there.”
    I agree with those who wish they could have voted for both. If we end up with Harriet vs. Brother Lawrence I don’t know what I’ll do–cry probably. And I agree also agree with those who want to keep personal politics out of it. Although, in honor of my Cherokee great grandmother, I love the guy who offered the rubber stamp to deface Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Isn’t that illegal?

  54. Richard J Adams's Gravatar Richard J Adams
    March 25, 2020 - 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Who has heard about the educator and organizer and ordained minister James Solomon Russell before this contest? Not I, and I live in Virginia. It seems we often prefer the heroic frontline fighter to the patient backroom institution builder. I wonder why? Makes a better movie?

  55. March 25, 2020 - 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, SEC, for inspiring conversation. One way or another, Harriet and James would have met or James would have lost to someone else. I see Harriet looking ahead to her match with my dear St. Herman and I tremble, tremble. I am moved by Harriet achieving so much without the ability to write down her own words. Yet Frederick Douglas knew enough about her to be humbled by her. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn so much about James, but I cast my vote for Harriet.

  56. Elaine Culver's Gravatar Elaine Culver
    March 25, 2020 - 1:14 pm | Permalink

    “Heartbreaking” is right. This was another tough decision. I voted for Harriet Tubman because of Justice Douglass’ beautiful tribute, particularly that she worked in private and in darkness, her reward being, “God bless you” from the people she led to freedom.

  57. March 25, 2020 - 1:20 pm | Permalink

    all due respect to John Russell, Harriet for the win? Can I get an amen?

  58. Anne Beckett's Gravatar Anne Beckett
    March 25, 2020 - 1:28 pm | Permalink

    This is a difficult one for me because it pits an obviously heroic person against a modest person who saw a need and methodically worked to fill it – and both served the same population. Each achieved a great deal. But I’ve decided to vote for James and all the ripples into the future he created by educating all those people.

  59. Mary Lou's Gravatar Mary Lou
    March 25, 2020 - 2:49 pm | Permalink

    This was extremely difficult today. I have known about Harriet Tubman my entire life and live less than an hour from Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I have always admired her and her spirit. Her work was immeasurable, but I can’t help but feel the heartstrings tug for James. I never knew about him until a few years ago, and I grew up in the Episcopal Church! His work was also immeasurable to benefit the people, but what I really admire about him was his ability to pass on grasping the almighty power to continue to serve the people.

  60. One of the Jennifers's Gravatar One of the Jennifers
    March 25, 2020 - 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful write-up on HT. I remember doing a report on her in elementary school. However I feel rather fiercely political today so voted JSR. He was formerly unknown to me. Thanks MC for the introduction. (Institutional tidying – God bless people willing to take that on.)

    Both/and, of course, as approaches to Christian ministry.

  61. TJMannion's Gravatar TJMannion
    March 25, 2020 - 4:54 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry to have to abandon James, but come on… You can’t ignore a quote like this:

    “…the most that you have done has been witnessed by a few trembling, scarred, and foot-sore bondmen and women, whom you have led out of the house of bondage, and whose heartfelt, “God bless you,” has been your only reward. ”

    We should all be so blessed by others!

  62. KarenR's Gravatar KarenR
    March 25, 2020 - 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Still fuming over the fantasy story ( walled up to die, but a maid fed her for 13 years? Ever seen “The Canterbury Ghost”? of yesterday’s winner. Immediately slammed by the most difficult choice thus far. Arrrrgh! Harriet, with God’s grace, will be on the money one day. With true anguish, she’s my choice.

  63. Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
    March 25, 2020 - 6:51 pm | Permalink

    I voted for James, partly because he’s not well-known, but mostly for “He campaigned in 1933 to get all references to race removed from the diocesan canons, to allow all clergy full participation in the governance of the church.”

  64. Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
    March 26, 2020 - 2:46 am | Permalink

    Megan, thank you for the fabulous information on James. I am so glad to have met him in this Lent Madness, Nothing against the heroic Harriet, but the quiet persons working within our Church don’t get the recognition due them.

  65. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 26, 2020 - 6:14 am | Permalink

    What a difficult choice, again. Today my vote was swung by Frederick Douglass, another saint I have been privileged to encounter through Lent Madness.

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