I read a headline on Drudge this morning that Hollywood was "out of ideas." Setting aside the fact this is a ridiculous notion, allow me to make a suggestion. Make a movie based on the life of John Jasper - Virginia's great slave preacher and, perhaps, the greatest orator ever born on Virginia soil - bar none. Jasper's life story has everything to make a good movie: humble beginnings, injustice, tragedy, restoration and rebirth, overcoming immense odds, forgiveness and phenomenal success. His life story is one of the most inspiring I've ever read. His story should be known by every school child in America. He's one of my heroes.
Jasper hated slavery, but loved the white race. While a slave, he voluntarily preached the gospel to, and prayed with, wounded Confederate soldiers at Chimborazo hospital in Richmond - where my great-great grandfather died in March of 1865. He battled with his "academic" contemporaries (another reason I like him). He publicly insulted members of Virginia's General Assembly (another reason I like him) in their presence - quite a bold mood for a black man in postbellum Virginia. He built the largest black congregation in the post Civil War South after starting his church in an abandoned Confederate horse stable on Brown's Island in the James River. He had a great sense of humor. To illustrate, someone once asked how one could tell for certain whether or not one was born again. Jasper replied, "If you is what you was, then you ain't." When asked if he had named his church, the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church because there were five other Mount Zion Baptist Churches in Richmond, Jasper responded, "No, we just liked that name." 2012 markes Jasper's 200th birthday.
He never retired, preaching his last sermon the morning before he died at the age of 88. His last words were: "I have finished my work and am down at the river waiting for further orders".
Here's a highway marker with text I co-authored along with Sixth Mount Zion's church historian back in 2001.
Note: I've written and spoken extensively on Jasper, own all three biographies of him, and have a drawer file full of research material on Jasper. I'm available for consulting on the project. ;o)