UNION — Toschia Moffett, J.D., MPA and Professor Frederick Williams debuted the autobiography, “The Spiritual Journey of a Legend: The Life of Reverend Dr. James W. Sanders, Sr.,” during a book tour over weekend which began Union County Carnegie Library on Saturday morning.
Moffett began working with the late Rev. Sanders in 2008, recording over 30 taped sessions in which he began telling his life story.
Moffett said the book — set in Union, Gaffney and at Benedict College — is a creative non-fiction tale of the legacy of a true American who, despite his humble beginnings, was able to achieve greatness.
“Never living more than 30 miles from his birthplace, Dr. Sanders Sr. touched lives from all across the country, even the U.S. Capitol,” Moffett said. “Through the story of his life, his legacy — and South Carolina history — will live on forever.”
“He is now here forever,” Williams added. “That’s the beauty of being able to write something about a person’s life.
Williams talked with library patrons on Saturday, sharing humorous stories and recalling that Sanders’ favorite song to sing at church — and, according to those in attendance, revivals he preached in Union — was “Traveling Shoes.”
Moffett continued to interview Sanders periodically up until his passing in 2010. Through their interviews, Moffett said she not only learned about Sanders’ life, but also about historical figures in the church such as Andrew Bryan, Christopher Rush, Theodore Wright and Henry Highland Garnet. Sanders is quoted in the book’s prologue:
“Church history is the foundation of our culture here in America. No wonder so many of our young don’t attend church today. They don’t know how important the church was to our ancestors. It was because of their unwavering faith in God and Jesus that they made it through.”
Moffett echoed and expanded upon Sanders’ sentiments regarding the church. She pointed out that the church was the center of the community at one time, and she said since most churches continue to have large attendances, she feels they should more often deliver a message of ambition and hard work. She talked about today’s generation compared to that of the Rev. Sanders.
“These people (Sanders’ generation) worked so hard to get what they had,” Moffett said. “They weren’t on welfare; they picked cotton. I look at other races who excelled because of what they went through, but it seems the younger generation of African-Americans — particularly males — feel entitled. Why are churches not preaching to get a job and work?”
Moffett said there were many people from Union in the 1920s and 1930s who earned PhDs and had talent, and it should be a message to people in their 50s and younger.
“There is no excuse for my generation to be a ‘baby mama’ and their entire lives come in a check in the mail every month,” she said. “There is no accountability in our communities anymore. We’ve got to hold to a standard, especially as African-Americans. We didn’t come from welfare; we came from hard work.”
Moffett said young people have a free opportunity for education if they would only take advantage of it.
“This is your ticket right here,” she said as she looked around the library and gestured toward the shelves of books. “The public library is free.”
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.