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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Distinguished African-American Minister Stakes Claim On The Pilgrims

Harvard Divinity School professor, Peter Gomes, is regarded as one of the most distinguished ministers in America. But he’s also one of the country’s foremost scholars on all things Pilgrim, first penning an article on them for Encyclopedia Britannica in high school.

As an African-American who grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts, he was mesmerized by the lives of the Pilgrims, and is possibly the only African-American to enter the cloistered world of the prestigious Pilgrim Society. We revisit our conversation with Rev. Gomes where he talks about growing up in Plymouth and why he feels the story of the Pilgrims belongs to him.

In this video, Peter Gomes recites the 1935 poem, “The D.A.R. lings…” written by Arthur Guiterman for “The New Yorker.”


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  • Robert B. Pierce

    Rev. Peter Gomes may be African-American, but he has mastered the upper-class Episcopal WASP accent and vocal tone perfectly. Oliver Wendell Holmes and the rest would be proud of him. Congratulations!

  • Gardengnome

    Rev. Gomes is a breath of fresh air in today’s society. Love the story thus far.

  • Ron Richardson

    If, as you claim, Dr. Gomes admires the Pilgrims, I would like to know how he explains their aggressive, racist behavior towards American Indians. The Pilgrims moved in and settled on land made vacant by the plague that struck the coastal peoples a few years before they arrived. They saw the terrible destruction of up to 90 percent of the Native Americans in the area as God’s judgement on the Indians and a mark of his favor on them. Their opportunism in moving onto their lands would be something like Americans rushing to Haiti after the devestatin of storm and cholera to buy up as much land as possible. The Pilgrims began their relations with Indians by digging up their corn stored underground and to supply themselves, then prided themselves on allegedly paying for it later. I see nothing whatsoever to admire in a rapacious and intolerant people who fooled themselves into thinking that God was on their side. The sooner we rid ourselves of the myth of America’s noble begining the sooner we can begin to become a humane and just society. For myself, I convey my admiration on people like Metacom (King Philip) who waged war to free his people from the Enlgish yoke; and Tecumseh and Blue Jacket and Geronimo and Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse; and many more freedom fighters against the racist imperialist onslaught of genocide disguised as manifest destiny These are my heroes.

  • tony chin

    Well, Ron Richardson is the other shiny side of the coin. The corn that the “pilgrims” dug up was in the graves of the natives. The thing that struck me was America being called the new Jerusalem and the pilgrims the new Jews. Like the jews of old and the present ones , that feel it is Gods wish for them to take other peoples lands and kill them.” for the bible tells me so” thanksgiving is now a day of mourning for the native american indians.

  • Chris

    This is an inspiring and encouraging reminder of how to appreciate the best of our heritage. Thank you to Here and Now and Rev. Gomes.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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