Rhapsody in Black – The Life Story of John Jasper-Hard Cover.
John Jasper, who was born into slavery in Fluvanna County on July 4, 1812, and died on March 30, 1901, is commemorated on his bicentennial in 2012. He was transferred to work in a tobacco factory in Richmond, and in 1839, he encountered a religious transformation in Capitol Square. After receiving literacy and writing instruction from a fellow slave, Jasper started reading the Bible. He quickly gained notoriety as a preacher and spent twenty years touring Virginia, mostly giving funeral speeches for fellow slaves. He went to Third Baptist Church in Petersburg regularly to conduct services.
In Richmond, Jasper founded the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church following the Civil War and liberation. By 1887, the church had grown to over 2,500 members under his energetic leadership, and it was the hub of religious activity in the Jackson Ward district. He started a Sunday school, and the church offered humanitarian services to assist the underprivileged, the children, the elderly, and the sick.
Jasper initially preached the sermon for which he gained notoriety in 1878, “The Sun Do Move,” in which he elaborated on his convictions regarding the authority of God and the essential truths of the Bible. For many years, he delivered his sermons in many eastern US cities, drawing national acclaim for his passionate delivery and striking imagery. Just a few days before his death at the age of eighty-eight, Jasper carried on preaching at his church.