04 January 2012

Make A John Jasper Movie


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)

9 comments:

13thBama said...

I've got a Macbook Pro and a new camera. Let's make a movie! :)

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

It could be done!

Mrs. Horne said...

Wow, this is fascinating and I am excited to learn more about him. I wish Hollywood would embrace more figures like this in their movies, I would be WAY more apt to visit a theater more than once every 5-10 years.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Mrs. Horne - I didn't recognize you at first. I'm actually a bit surprised that Hollywood doesn't find some of these lesser known historical figures that have such a fascinating life story and make a film out of it. There really is a lot of good material out there. Jasper's life would make a heck of a film.

Miss said...

Thank you for sharing this man's life.

You never hear much about black slaves and want they have accomplished. This is much appreciated.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

You're welcome Miss. Brother Jasper was quite an overcomer.

Mrs. Horne said...

At work I have to log in to both email accounts and I didn't realize that I commented under my "other" name :) I prefer to go by Lindsay, but at school I am told that I must be "Mrs. Horne!"

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Lindsay.

Brandon said...

Naughty, naughty! You know you can't make a movie about him....He was a real christian!