Historian pens book about church founder
A former Winston-Salem State University history professor has penned a book about one of the most controversial religious figures of the 20th century.
Dr. Lenwood G. Davis’ “Sayings and Quotations of Daddy Grace” centers around Charles Emmanuel (Manuel) “Sweet Daddy” Grace, who came to the U.S. from his native Cape Verde around 1901.
He began staging missions in Massachusetts in 1921 via his church, which he called The United House of Prayer For All People, Church of the Apostolic Faith.
The church grew rapidly. By 1923, he had a location in Charlotte, where parishioners initially worshipped under a large tent. House of Prayer churches sprouted up in major cities from Florida to California. At its height, Grace claimed more than 4,000,000 members.
Though worshipped by his followers, Grace developed a rather dubious reputation. He was seen as a cult leader and con man by many. In addition to his churches, his empire also included apartment buildings, garment and soap factories, a coffee plantation, a chicken hatchery and a cosmetic company. When he died in Los Angeles on Jan. 12, 1960, it was estimated that he and his church were worth $25 million.
Davis’ book includes not only Grace’s sayings and quotations, but “Daddy Grace’s Four Objectives for the House of Prayer for All People,” a list of products named after Grace and the litany of nicknames Grace earned during his lifetime – everything from “Black Christ” to “Boyfriend of the World.”
Davis has written several books, including “Selected Writings and Speeches of James E. Shepard, 1896-1946: Founder of North Carolina Central University,” “A Travel Guide to Black Historical Sites and Trademarks in North Carolina” and “A Paul Robeson Handbook: Everything You Want to Know About Paul Robeson.”
Davis, who has also taught at Livingstone College, Portland State University (Oregon), Ohio State University, the University of Delaware, Montclair College (N.J.) and High Point University, is currently working on other publications, including “Purvis Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church, Beaufort, NC, 1824-2013: A Short History” and “The World’s Orator: Selected Writings and Speeches of Joseph Charles Price, 1881-1891, Founder of Livingstone College.”
Autographed copies of ‘Daddy Grace’ an be ordered from the author by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.