The Black Church: TAH Grant Summer 2012

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The pivotal role of the Black Church in the lives of African Americans can not be described in words short of “life saving.” The church provided the foundation for the very survival of African Americans in North America during and after slavery. It has been noted that most of the first Black congregations and churches formed before 1800 were founded by free Blacks. These individuals saw the church as an institution that could provide earthly comforts, and eventually, heavenly salvation.

The Black Church has played - - and continue to play - - different roles in the lives of their members. First and foremost, the church has played a religious role. The church has been that calming element in the Black community. The church has also served as the one institution in the Black community where a variety of causes and organizations could meet and develop strategies and tactics to deal with pressing short and long-term issues in the community. The church provided a ready made laboratory for different groups to experiment with ways to solve and address concern in the community.

The Black church has been the keeper of the cultural trends in the community. The varying organizations have used the church as the foundation for building and developing the cultural components in most communities. The birthing of different economic development groups has occurred over time in the Black Church. These organizations have used the captured membership as a way to execute ideas to enhance the Black Community.

The central role of the Black Church in the modern-day Civil Rights Movement will be explored from all perspectives. To be sure, those civil rights organizations that were not founded in the church were profoundly influenced by church leaders and their membership.

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The Black Church: TAH Grant Summer 2012

  1. 1. The Black ChurchDr. Leslie Burl McLemoreJackson State University
  2. 2. The pivotal role of the Black Church in the lives of African Americans can not be described in words short of “life saving.” The church provided the foundation for the very survival of African Americans in North America during and after slavery. It has been noted that most of the first Black congregations and churches formed before 1800 were founded by free Blacks. These individuals saw the church as an institution that could provide earthly comforts, and eventually, heavenly salvation. The Black Church has played—and continues to play—different roles in the lives of their members
  3. 3. If I go to church on Sunday,Then the Cabaret on Monday,Tain’t nobdy’s biz-ness if I do. Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do – Porter Grainger/ Everett Robbins
  4. 4. 1. What was the historic role of the Church in the Black Community?2. How did religion help to shape and direct the philosophical thinking in the Black community and what role did the church play in this process?3. How did the modern-day Civil Rights Movement benefit from the existence of the Black Church?4. What future role should the church play in helping to solve the variety of issues facing the Black community?
  5. 5.  1746 – February 13, 1818ABSALOM JONES  Born into slavery  In 1778, he purchased his wife’s freedom so their children would be free; seven years later he was able to purchase his own  After founding a black congregation in 1794, in 1804, he became the first African American ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church of the United States.  As one of the first African Americans licensed to preach in the Methodist Church, he was Lay minister to black members in the interracial congregation of St. Georges Methodist Church  1787 – founded the Free African Society (FAS)  1792 – Founded the congregation of the African Church in Philadelphia
  6. 6. RICHARD ALLEN (BISHOP) February 14, 1760 – March 26, 1831 Born into slavery Minister, educator and writer He joined the Methodist church at age 17 Opened the first African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in 1794; elected Bishop of the AME in 1816 1795 – Ordained as a deacon 1804 – Ordained as a priest
  7. 7. PRINCE HALL MASONS  About September 12, 1748 – December 7, 1807  In 1773, Prince Hall became a preacher in the Methodist Church with a Charge at Cambridge  On March 6, 1775, he was made a master mason in Irish Constitution Military Lodge No. 441. When the Military Lodge left the area, the African Americans were given the authority to meet as a lodge  The black church and Prince Hall Freemasonry both played important roles in the black experience in America; one secular, the other spiritual - played equally important, interrelated roles in the way the black community addressed social, political, and economic problems in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
  8. 8. Outstanding Church Leaders
  9. 9. Religious and Cultural Force in The Black CommunityHOWARD THURMAN  1899 – April 10, 1981  Author, Philosopher, Theologian  Dean of Chapel – Howard University and Boston University  Named honorary Canon of the Cathedral of Saint John Divine, New York City  Ebony Magazine named him one of the 50 most important figures in African American History.
  10. 10. Religious and Cultural Force in The Black Community August 1, 1894 – March 28, 1984 BENJAMIN MAYES The youngest of eight children Minister, educator, scholar and social activist Mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1922 – Ordained a Baptist Minister 1926 – Executive Secretary of the Tampa, Florida, Urban League 1934 Dean, School of Religion, Howard University 1940 – President, Morehouse College
  11. 11.  January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.  Clergy, Activist, Nonviolent Leader in the African American Civil Rights Movement  1955 – Led the Montgomery Bus Boycott  1957 – Helped to organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)  1959 – Awarded Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for his book, Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story  1963 – Kings efforts led to the March on Washington where he delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech  1964 –Youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize
  12. 12.  Born Elijah Robert Poole ELIJAH MUHAMMAD October 7, 1987 – February 25, 1975 The sixth of thirteen children Religious leader, mentor to Malcolm X Led the Nation of Islam from 1934 until his death in 1975 1931 attended speech on Islam and Black Empowerment by Wallace D. Fard 1934 – Name minister of Islam 1934 – the Nation of Islam published its first newspaper, Final Call to Islam 1942 – Arrested for failure to register for the draft during WWII 1972 – Nation of Islam net worth of $75 Million
  13. 13. The Modern Civil Rights Movement
  14. 14.  As an agency of Social Control and Change As an agency of Economic Development As an Educational Institution It’s impact on the Modern Civil Rights Movement
  15. 15. Malcolm X vs Martin Luther King
  16. 16.  Nation of Islam –  Video ▪ Malcolm X Before Leaving Nation of Islam
  17. 17.  Born August 5, 1938JAMES HAL CONE  Architect of black liberation theology  His book, Black Theology and Black Power, provided a new way to articulate the distinctiveness of theology in the black church.  Taught Theology and Religion at Philander Smith College, Adrian College in Michigan and Union Theological Seminary in New York City.  1977 – Awarded the Charles A Briggs Chair in systematic theology
  18. 18.  Black Power  Economic Development ▪ Black Manifesto “We are therefore demanding of the white Christian churches and Jewish synagogues which are part and parcel of the system of capitalism, that they begin to pay reparations to black people in this country”. – The New York Review of Books
  19. 19.  Nation of Islam  Video ▪ Malcolm X Thoughts on Nation of Islam After Leaving
  20. 20.  Has the church fulfilled its earthly and heavenly mission? How do you see the long term mission of the church evolving? Does the church have the power to reframe the fundamental questions of today?

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