ALBANY — When E.G. Sherman Jr. came into the newspaper office recently to be interviewed, one of the first things he said was, “I’m still on cloud nine!” He then proceeded to tell about reading to a third grade class at Sherwood Acres earlier that same day and how he autographed a business card for every student after the students proclaimed “we’ve never touched a real author before.”
The hugs the children gave him afterwards were “just as important as any of this academic recognition”, Sherman said with a big smile.
The recognition Sherman received is having his book being recommended for President Obama’s personal reading list.
WHO: Eugene G. Sherman, Jr., Ph.D.
WHERE: LifeWay Christian Store
1218 N. Westover Blvd.
WHEN: Thursday, March 20th
TIME: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
The book “Black Religiosity: A Biblical and Historical Perspective” is available at www.crossbooks.com as well as www.amazon.com.
Born and raised in Whigham, Sherman worked the plow behind a mule on the family farm. When he reached the age to attend high school, his parents left him with a preacher during the week so he could go to classes in Cairo. Sherman emptied the ashes daily from the wood-heated classrooms, all 12 of them, in order to get a free lunch. What money his father gave him, the young man used for treats or books.
After high school, Sherman went to Fort Valley State where he earned a bachelor’s degree. His educational journey continued when he was offered, and accepted, a scholarship from Southern Illinois University to work on his masters, the first African American to ever receive such an offer. With the masters in hand, it was on to Purdue University to receive his Ph.D. in sociology.
Florida A & M was Sherman’s first teaching job, where he remained from 1959 -1967. He then made his way to Albany State University. As a senior professor of Sociology, he retired from ASU in 2002, after 35 years on staff. Retirement for Sherman was not, however, to be one long stretch of fishing, napping and/or watching television. While still at ASU, Sherman became a Doctor of Sacred Theology. Institutional First Baptist Church was founded in 1971 by Sherman and he remains the pastor today.
To say that the Sherman family has a tight grasp on the importance of education would indeed be an understatement. Sherman, the eldest of four, has a brother who is a chemist at Conoco Oil in Lake Charles, La., a sister who is a vice president of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and another sister who is a CPA for Duvall Electric Company in Jacksonville, Fla. There was no hesitation on Sherman’s part as to how the siblings got where they are today. “Our success came through the grace of God and education,”
The story of Sherman is like the Energizer Bunny in that is just keeps on going. In February, Sherman attended the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) in Washington, D.C. and was inducted into the organization. Such membership means that a call could come from any part of the country asking that he be a guest speaker or presenter for a vast variety of organizations, including colleges and universities. As one of 121 authors, Sherman also participated in a book signing featuring his “Black Religiosity: A Biblical and Historical Perspective”. When asked about the book’s topic, Sherman expressed the importance that religion played in the lives of African Americans from the early days of slavery to the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
“Although slaves were not permitted to have organized churches, religion has always been with the people, then and now.” Slaves for the most part maintained a strong belief in God and did worship in their huts or underground churches. A part of Sherman’s book tells just how slaves used their faith to survive inhumane conditions.
The Rev. Joshua DuBois is the spiritual counselor for President Barack Obama. A part of Dubois’ job is penning daily devotions for the president. At the recent ASALH event, DuBois was given the task of selecting three books to be added to President Obama’s personal collection. Sherman’s title was the first of the three selected. The copy is signed “To: President Obama, From Eugene G. Sherman.”
So, how does a man go from a plow to professor to the pulpit and on to the president’s book shelf? There is only one way, says Sherman. “People must put God first regardless of other issues, circumstances or related experiences,” he said.