Supervisor Lizzie Robinson:  Born 1860 - Died 1945
Serviced COGIC:  1911 - 1945
Lizzie Woods Robinson was born a slave on April 5, 1860
in Phillips County, Arkansas, to Mose Smith ans Elizabeth Jackson.
At the end of the Civil War, Robinson, her mother, and four siblings, were left
without a husband and a father.  Although her mother never learned to read, she sent her
children to the missionary schools, and by the time Lizzie Robinson was eight,
she was reading the  bible to her mother, who died when
Lizzie Robinson was 15.  In 1881 she was  converted to the Baptist Faith.  
Eleven years later, she joined a Baptist Church
in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. 
A white missionary, named Joanna More, would come to Lizzie's house and teach 
her about motherhood, homemaking, cleanliness and Pentecostalism from a pamphlet
called "Hope".  Lizzie Robinson had little formal education, so Joanna made
arrangements through her pastor to allow Lizzie to take courses
at the Baptist Academy, and upon  completion of her classes, she
was allowed to work at the Baptist Academy.  Through the powerful teaching of
Elder D. W. Welk, Robinson became attracted to the Church of God in Christ (COGIC),
and in 1911, while Bishop Mason was running a Revival, she received the
baptism of the Holy Ghost.  Because she had gotten saved, and was filled with the
Holy Ghost, she was fired from her job at the Baptist Academy
and was excommunicated from the Baptist Church.  Bishop Mason was
impressed with this young woman's demeanor and knowledge of the scriptures,
and later that year, during the Holy Convocation of 1911, Bishop Mason established a
Women's Department and appointed Mother Lizzie Robinson as the first Supervisor
over the women's work in the Church of God in Christ.  He wanted to allow the
women the opportunity to have the full use of their talents.
Mother Lizzie Robinson has been described as the
"Pioneering Foremother" of the Church of God in Christ.
In 1916, Mother Robinson, and her husband, Elder Edward D. Robinson, moved to
Omaha, Nebraska, where they and their daughter, Ida, established
the first Church of God in Christ in Nebraska.  The church was eventually named
after them:  Robinson Memorial, and it was later placed in Nebraska's National Register
for Historic places. The Robinson Memorial Church still has weekly services to this day.
Historic Reflections - Supervisors
In 1918, the Federal Bureau of Investigayion opened an FBI file on Mother Lizzie Robinson
because she was a member of Bishop Mason's organization
that believed in the 14th Amendment  to the Constitutiion of the United States
(to not bare arms based upon religion).  She was jailed because of her religious beliefs
and because she was a leader of the Women's Department of the COGIC during an era
whose Womwn's Suffrage Rights had not been born.  She was imprisoned often for 
her faith, and rotten egged for her teaching of the word of God as an African American 
female pioneer leader of her day.  
Mother Lizzie Robinson has been described as a strict leader of the women of the COGIC
denomination.  She had a tough dress code, and uncompromising rules governing
female behavior: no short dress above the knees, no short sleeves, no open toes or heels
on your shoes, no cutting of the hair, no coloring or processing of the hair,
and, well,  you get the picture!
Mother Robinson, aside from being a stern leader, was well organized and left no stones
unturned when it came to straightening out crooked or inappropriate matters.
The following notice which was sent to the COGIC Bishops and clergy clearly
demonstrates, that despite her advanced aging and limited mobility, Mother Lizzie
Robinson kept her fingers on the pulse of activities within the Womwn's Department,
especially dissenting ones:  "Notice to Bishops, Overseers, Pastors and State Mothers:
I am revoking the licenses of the following missionaries, because of their 
following a split church and will continue to use tour license to get their
books from the bureau to travel over the work.  These women are from Minnesota.
Their names are as follows:  Mrs. Addie Buress, Mrs. Lillie Vaughn, and Mrs. Annie McConnel.
All are evangelist missionaries and followed a split church.  Please do not
accept these women as they come to your church."  She absolutely Meant business!
Her ultimate goal was to uplift the African American community which incorporated
raising money to build other churches and institutions.
Her holiness code of ethics was used as a resistance against racism, sexism,
and classism that plagued early twentieth century America.
Many black women who became sanctified Pentecostals during that time,
espoused a pro-black consciousness, had unflinching self-respect, and saw 
the high moral standards of sanctification as a means for African American improvement.
In order to counter the stereotypes of the rationales used for abuse of black women,
Sanctified women were encouraged to dress as becometh holiness.
Mother Lizzie Robinson, unlike Dr. Mallory and Mother Lillian Coffey, believed that
women should engage in politics - stay away from organizations:  Her constant
admonition to the women was "to continue in the faith, to stay out of lodges,
and to stay out of politics."
Her belief was based in part upon 19th century racial focus through respectable
homemaking.  She was probably also reflecting on her experiences of having the FBI
following her during World War I.  As you know, the FBI not only followed her, but
also followed Bishop Mason during that period because he was against war and
believed that men should be "conscientious objectors" , 
and the government assumed that Mason was teaching against the government,
and proceeded to place him in jail.  The very things she did treasure, however - 
education, families, and home life -  in time became the
avenues of COGIC women's civic engagement.
Mother Lizzie Robinson - The First National
Supervisor Of The COGIC Women's Department
Below - A Young Lizzie Robinson
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Mother Robinson usually traveled without her husband, despite hardships and risks.
She took extensive trips doing missionary work while her husband 
remained in Omaha pastoring the church.  Mother Robinson's daughter, Ida,
and other young church women accompanied her on the mission field.
She coached and trained them to become state mothers and various church leaders.
Mother Lillian Brooks Coffey as a young evangelist frequently accompanied
Mother Robinson; Mother Lillian Brooks Coffey eventually succeeded Mother
Robinson as National Supervisor of Women.
At age 65, Mother Robinson visited churches in 40 cities, covering
18 states in less than one year.   It was a constant practice for her to lead
prayer meetings, teach church doctrine, and to help new churches to establish
themselves everywhere she traveled.  She organized auxiliaries, straightened
out trouble in local churches, and advised congregations on matters of doctrine
and behavior.  A look at Mother Robinson's annual report of 1925 (at the age of 65),
reveals the following:  She began her visits in Arkansas, where she spent over a week
at Geridge School, which was established by Justus Bowe.  Geridge School, which was founded in the early twentieth century by the COGIC combined
secular and religious education with prayer meetings which were held on
the school grounds.  According to Dorcus Duffy, (who so graciously sent
me the following two pictures), and whose mother was a student at the Geridge
School, the picture below is a picture of the last standing building 
(the girls dormitory) of the Geridge School Campus as it appeared
before it was demolished in the 1970's.
Below is a picture of Justus Bowie, which was also given to me by Dorcus Duffy, who according to information given to her from
her mother and grandparents, Elder Justus Bowie opened the school
in 1916, and was the original Overseer of Arkansas.
Thank you Dorcus for your pictures and information!
Mother Lizzie Robinson went from Geridge to Little Rock, and then back home
to Nebraska at the end of January to spend time with her husband.  She left home
in March to Kansas City, MO, then went on to Kansas City, Kansas and to other
small towns within the state.  From Kansas, Mother Robinson traveled to
Oklahoma, spending time in Hot Springs and Tulsa.  From there she traveled to Memphis;
Then she attended the state convocation in Union City, Tennessee,
and in May she went to St. Louis.  After returning to Kansas City, she headed west
to Denver.  Traveling to California, she went to Oakland, San Francisco, and 
Los Angeles.  After traveling to Phoenix, she went to Minneapolis and
St. Paul, Minnesota.  She returned to Omaha (her home) for five days, then left again
for Dallas, Oklahoma City, Topeka, Wichita, Kansas City and St. Louis.  She continued
 on to  Mound City, Illinois, and Henderson, Kentucky.  Her journeys also took
her to Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo.  After spending a night in 
Philadelphia, she went to Norfolk, Virginia.  She returned to Washington, D. C., and
then went on to Trenton, New Jersey.  She remained a night in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 
then went west to Pittsburg, Cleceland, Toledo and Detroit.  She also stopped in
Ypsilanti, Michigan and Gary, Indiana.  After returning to Chicago, she went to
Decatur, Illinois.  She also visited St. Louis before returning home again for elevin days.
Then she left for Little Rock to attend her brothers funeral, and stopped at Brinkly,
Arkansas, where she rested before that years Holy Convocation in Memphis (November).
This demanding pace illustrates the commitment and independence of
early church women, as well as their husbands' apparent acceptance of prominent
roles for their wives within the COGIC denomination.
Mother Robinson established the principle that the church mother's role is to under gird
the pastor, establish a strong Women's Department, and teach the
women "things that they should know " including modest dress, prayer, and respect
for the pastor's authority.  She helped to enforce a strict code of behavior for women
that as, previously stated, prohibited them from wearing shoes that exposed
heels  or toes.  In addition to forbidding dresses that exposed their knees, the code
also banned jewelry and feathers.  
Like the fundamentalists of the 1920's, who strove to hold onto the old landmarks
of the Bible against encroaching modernity and technology, Mother Robinson's
leadership was designed for a different era.  Most of its membership in the early days
lived in rural areas, relying on farming or shaarecropping to survive.  In the 1930's, 
however, the demographics of the COGIC church member had changed.
More urban than rural due to the great migration, many COGIC women were members
of storefront churches in areas such as Chicago, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and
Los Angeles.  As a consequence, members came in contact with new beliefs, practices,
and organizations that questioned the sectarian nature of the "saints".
New COGIC members were not only from lower economic levels, but from the middle
class.  Members also had the opportunity to further their education beyond grade
or high school level.  Tensions from members whose experience had included
a progressive lifestyle was imperceptively forcing the Women's Department
to move towards a redefining of holiness.  The redefinition and redefining
would come from within the Women's Department from
two women that were faithful to Mother Robinson:  
Lillian Brooks Coffey and  Dr. Arenia Mallory.
Below Left To Right:  Dr. Arenia Mallory And Mother Lillian Brooks Coffey
In 1945 Mother Robinson came to Memphis ill.  She had battled several
ailments down through the years and at 85, it was difficult for her to
get around.  Having suffered several strokes, she could move, but spoke slowly.
Mother Robinson arrived in Memphis very tired,  Out in front of
Mason Temple burned a neon sign:  
Church of God in Christ National Headquarters.
It was a visible sign of Mother Robinson's hard work for raising funds, for
her daughter had set up a fund specifically for the purchase of a new sign for
Mason Temple.  The Mothers, however, did not raise enough money to pay
for the $1600 neon sign, and Mother Robinson finished the remainder out
of her personal funds.  It appeared as if Mother Robinson knew that her
days were numbered and she would not make it home.  It was a last walk
for a dying Matriarch who wanted to see the work of her hands one last time.
Far from the days of her relentless travel, holding services in a chicken coop
with her husband, the Temple must have seemed to Mother Robinson a
proof of God's favor upon the sanctified life.  At the same time, it was a
reminder of a future that she would not share.
She sent out a letter that was to be passed out to the women on the women's night
of the convocation giving strong exhortatiions concerning their dress, and behavior
and non involvement in lodges, politics and their continuance in the faith,
she walked through the new edifice, sat in the assembly hall which bears her name,
held a conference with her state mothers, revised her constitution - examining
every phase of it for soundness, sat by her windows, examined the large electrical sign,
allocated the balance of the funds needed to make purchase possible and
paid the difference.  She turned to her daughter in the Lord, Lillian Brooks Coffey,
whom she had trained from girlhood, who later became her assistant, to
courageously lead the women in the fear of the Lord, to stick to the Bible, and
not depart from the law of the Lord.
In 1945, after raising money to help build the historic Mason Temple, and
to purchase the churches neon -  lighted sign (which is still there today 2016),
Mother Robinson passed away, ending the tenure of one of the greatest
organizers among Christian Women. 
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Below Mother Lizzie Robinson And Bishop C. H. Mason Attending The
Holy Convocation Of 1919
Mother Lizzie Woods Robinson, ranked with Bishop Mason in the esteem in which
she was held by thousands of followers throughout the country, died on Wednesday
morning jst two days before the official closing of the National Convocation in 1945.
Through her ability to organize, inspire and direct, Mother Robinson left
to the heritage of the church 20,000 missionaries, 100,000 laymen and
numerous divisions to the Women's Department.  She remained
clear minded throughout her 80 years of service.
Mother Robinson's legacy of service to the Women's Department was evident 
at the memorial service at the temple.
Her funeral, the ending service of the convocation, was packed and
the mourners included Mary McLeod Bethune.  With Mother Coffey presiding 
over the service, the eulogy was delivered by an ailing Bishop Mason.
To close, Mother Coffee was installed as the 2nd General Supervisor of the COGIC. 
She wore a white habit and a full length pleated gown with a cross around her
neck that was placed there by two state mothers and two Bishops.
With the completion of the transfer of power, Mother Lizzie Robinson's body
was delivered via the train to Omaha, Nebraska for final rites and burial.
Below, Mother Lizzie Robinson #22 from Bishop Owens' scrapbook.
Below:  We See The Neglace That Was Placed Around The Neck Of Mother Lillian Coffey
During Her Installation For Supervisor Of The COGIC Women's Department
On August 21, 1992, Elder Elijah L. Hill obtained the street naming for the first female
to obtain a street change in the city of Omaha in the State of Nebraska, called the 
"Lizzie Robinson Avenue"
Elder Elijah L. Hill Is Seen On The Far Left  Of The Photo Below
Mother Lizzie Robinson:  1911 She Founded The All Night Women's Prayer Movement
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Supervisor Lizzie Robinson 1911~1945