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“Into this picture of poverty and ignorance framed in racial discrimination step these workers [J. E. White, Will Otis Palmer, F.W. Halladay etc.] on January 10, 1895, to work exclusively for negroes.

Previous to their arrival an unfortunate disturbance involving a white religious worker among negroes had occurred, but this did not seem to hamper the work of White and his group. Several innovations helped them gain entrance into the homes of the people. Since many colored lived on or near the levees, a loud blast of the ship's horn was enough to bring them to the water's edge to see what was going on. Old clothes gathered for the purpose of winning the people's hearts were passed out along with broken crackers from the Battle Creek Foods Company. These acts did win hearts, and White and Palmer were invited to a Baptist Church to preach. Meetings were also held in the open air, on the boat and occasionally back from the river. Aid from an unexpected quarter was found in the Women's Christian temperance Union. White cooperated with them when they spoke in the white Methodist and Baptist churches. As negroes sat on the back rows of the churches, it was easy to find interested as well as rather capable negroes, secure their names, and visit them in their homes.

On Sabbath, White and his group would go out upon the lake to hold their Sabbath services. One evening as they came down the plank, they were met by a group led by Hannah Washington who inquired if Cap’n White was having a service out on the boat. When he replied in the affirmative she burst forth that she had known of the Sabbath for some time as a relative of Burrell Creecy, Will Street, a railroad fireman, had read to them from a book found on the train that the Sabbath was right. By the summer of 1895, there were 25 Sabbath keepers in Vicksburg. Theirs was the “chain gang church”- the church building was across from the jail.” (Jacob Justiss, Angels in Ebony, 1975, 25-26)

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