Last week, I blogged about Detroit’s Prophet Jones from the 1950s. In the same decade, New Yorkers had their black flashy sensation: Sweet Daddy Grace.
Also from Thaddeus Russell’s Renegade History of the United States:
Grace rode in a custom-built Cadillac limousine, and he bought some of the most prestigious real estate in Manhattan, including the El Dorado on Central Park West, which was then the tallest apartment building in the world. By the mid-1950s, his total net worth was estimated at $25 million. And again, like Prophet Jones’s fortune, most of it came from donations by Grace’s working-class devotees. In many of his churches, the members constructed enormous, arklike containers covered with dollar bills, behind which sat Grace’s throne. Grace’s services were also sexually charged. They began with him slowly walking down the red-carpeted aisle as his followers pinned ten-, twenty-, fifty-, and sometimes hundred-dollar bills onto his robe. While a rhythm and blues band played, the congregants danced ecstatically. Asked why he promoted such libidinous revelry, he replied, “Why should the devil have all the good times?”
Russell, incidentally, points out that Martin Luther King, Jr. and other early civil rights leaders excoriated these men and tried to drive them from the African-American limelight.Bookmark it: del.icio.us | Reddit | Slashdot | Digg | Facebook | Technorati | Google | StumbleUpon | Window Live | Tailrank | Furl | Netscape | Yahoo | BlinkList