Zack…the Prophet of Brunswick

Zack…the Prophet of Brunswick
By Dr. David Galloway, Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Atlanta
originally published on site

Zack’s mouth utters expletives without pause. My mother’s Ivory Soap method that she used on me once as a boy to clean up my foul language would not touch Zack’s profanity. I’m not sure that Clorox would fare much better.

the noose as a US flag
the noose as a US flag

I first met him a year and a half ago at the Glynn Country Courthouse, as the Ahmaud Arbery trial was going on. I hobbled up, cane in hand, trying not to fall on the undulating grassy yard in front of the courthouse. There was Zack, holding forth about some evil in our land, in front of five older white women. I was frankly shocked by the words he was issuing forth, describing his anger over the way poor people had been and were treated in Glynn County. You could almost see the women leaning back, as if the power of his words were pressing on them physically. Being an astute observer of human behavior, I noted their eyes widening in a rhythm that followed his word choice. His use of the N-word (Zack is black) was frankly jarring to me. I was surprised by the scene, but smiled to myself. I love surprises. Who was this guy?

It turned out that I had met his wife, Gladys, even had a brief conversation with her at a Gullah Geechee cultural event on St. Simons Island. She was an Episcopalian, a member of St. Athanasius in downtown Brunswick, a predominantly black congregation. Her father had been the priest there many years earlier. Gladys and I played a familiar game in the small Episcopal circles we run in: Do you know so-in-so? which will usually bring a reaction, positive or negative. She and I had established some ties across the State of Georgia in the Episcopal world which got me to watching the broadcast online from St. A, as it is referred to, during the pandemic. But I had not met her husband, Zack, but that was about to change directly. Profoundly.

Zack identified himself to me as a pastor, a Baptist pastor, the pastor of St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church, located on G Street in downtown Brunswick, two blocks off the main drag of Glouchester. He had grown up in Brunswick, went to serve in Vietnam, returned to attend Morehouse, finally landing back in Brunswick. To say he is an activist is an understatement.

He was quick to share his opinion on current leadership in Brunswick and Glynn County, his disdain for “kept” preachers who are beholden to the “Massah” aka the powers that be. He has a sharp social commentary as to how society is constructed to work for the wealthy and keep poor folks down. He is particularly critical of members of his own race who go away to be educated by the “system”, only to return to impose their “high-minded” insights and control on the home folks. His insights are at times delivered in the professorial tones of an Oxford lecture hall, but at other times, the scalding hot eruption of volcanic fire. I have been fortunate to be around the man enough to hear both, and versions in between. When I am in close proximity to Zack, I note that I have never caught a whiff of fear emanating from him, something that is all too detectable in some of the careful clergy I have encountered. Trust me… I know what fear smells like coming from my own damn self, having survived dealing with overly comfortable church folk in my day. I survived, barely, and sport a few scars and a limp.

Dusty Crutchfield Women's Coalition

The Dusty Crutchfield Women's Coalition was founded by Helen Ladsen immediately after her 2021 Brunswick Georgia Mayoral bid.   The Coalition seeks to educate, organize and lead people from poverty to progress. 

It's initial public effort was as a cosponsor of the Drapetomania Conference hosted in Brunswick Georgia in the Spring of 2022.  

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