When Karl Lutze arrived in Oklahoma in 1945, he stepped into another world. A newly ordained clergyman born in Wisconsin, he was a young white man assigned to minister among Muskogee’s African American community. He soon found that in the South, crosses were as likely to be burned as revered. His recollections of postwar Oklahoma provide a compelling testament to the era’s racial conflict and some steps taken toward its resolution.
Awakening to Equality offers a unique perspective on an often-violent era that witnessed the gradual dismantling of segregation. Serving congregations in Muskogee and Tulsa, Lutze encountered a cross section of both communities—from the white and black power brokers to the most disempowered black and biracial families—and a stratified society buttressed by intimidation, cross burnings, and bombs. His activism in the Urban League and other local civil rights organizations gave him firsthand experience with forces moving toward change, as well as with the more entrenched forces resisting it.
Blending personal anecdotes and recollections of key players in this unfolding drama, Lutze puts a human face on historical and journalistic accounts of social change during the crucial early years of the civil rights movement. He takes readers back to small-town and urban Oklahoma in a time when African Americans were beginning to challenge segregation in Muskogee’s public transportation and a handful of liberal whites were trying to move their communities toward desegregation. Throughout this rich memoir, we meet actual people creating a future—one that involved the very redefinition of America.
More than a view of an earnest young clergyman trying to grow beyond the racial and social limitations of the church of his day, Awakening to Equality also depicts the struggles of Lutze’s own denomination to overcome its earlier accommodation of racism. Lutze’s success in his ministries made his achievements a model for mission work among African Americans and led to his appointment in 1959 first as field secretary and then shortly thereafter as executive director of the Lutheran Human Relations Association, a pioneering civil rights organization. Simultaneously, he taught classes as Associate Professor of Theology at Valparaiso University.
Lutze not only witnessed important events but also participated in them and found that his entire career was shaped by the experience. Awakening to Equality is a moving story that captures the real-life education of a prominent clergyman during a critical period in American life.
Black churches in America have long been recognized as the most independent, stable, and dominant institutions in black communities. In The Black Church in the African American Experience, based on a ten-year study, is the largest nongovernmental study of urban and rural churches ever undertaken and the first major field study on the subject since the 1930s. Drawing on interviews with more than 1,800 black clergy in both urban and rural settings, combined with a comprehensive historical overview of seven mainline black denominations, C. Eric Lincoln and Lawrence H. Mamiya present an analysis of the Black Church as it relates to the history of African Americans and to contemporary black culture. In examining both the internal structure of the Church and the reactions of the Church to external, societal changes, the authors provide important insights into the Church’s relationship to politics, economics, women, youth, and music. Among other topics, Lincoln and Mamiya discuss the attitude of the clergy toward women pastors, the reaction of the Church to the civil rights movement, the attempts of the Church to involve young people, the impact of the black consciousness movement and Black Liberation Theology and clergy, and trends that will define the Black Church well into the next century. This study is complete with a comprehensive bibliography of literature on the black experience in religion. Funding for the ten-year survey was made possible by the Lilly Endowment and the Ford Foundation.
In addition to being a religious countryùover ninety percent of Americans believe in God--the United States is also home to more immigrants than ever before. Churches and Charity in the Immigrant City focuses on the intersection of religion and civic engagement among Miami's immigrant and minority groups. The contributors examine the role of religious organizations in developing social relationships and how these relationships affect the broader civic world. Essays, for example, consider the role of leadership in the promotion and creation of "civic social capital" in a Haitian Catholic church, transnational ties between Cuban Catholics in Miami and Havana, and several African American congregations that serve as key comparisons of civic engagement among minorities.
This book is important not only for its theoretical contributions to the sociology of religion, but also because it gives us a unique glimpse into immigrants' civic and religious lives in urban America.
No other story in the Bible has fired the imaginations of African Americans quite like that of Exodus. Its tale of suffering and the journey to redemption offered hope and a sense of possibility to people facing seemingly insurmountable evil.
Exodus! shows how this biblical story inspired a pragmatic tradition of racial advocacy among African Americans in the early nineteenth century—a tradition based not on race but on a moral politics of respectability. Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., begins by comparing the historical uses of Exodus by black and white Americans and the concepts of "nation" it generated. He then traces the roles that Exodus played in the National Negro Convention movement, from its first meeting in 1830 to 1843, when the convention decided—by one vote—against supporting Henry Highland Garnet's call for slave insurrection.
Exodus! reveals the deep historical roots of debates over African-American national identity that continue to rage today. It will engage anyone interested in the story of black nationalism and the promise of African-American religious culture.
In recent years, as government agencies have encouraged faith-based organizations to help ensure social welfare, many black churches have received grants to provide services to their neighborhoods’ poorest residents. This collaboration, activist churches explain, is a way of enacting their faith and helping their neighborhoods.
But as Michael Leo Owens demonstrates in God and Government in the Ghetto, this alliance also serves as a means for black clergy to reaffirm their political leadership and reposition moral authority in black civil society. Drawing on both survey data and fieldwork in New York City, Owens reveals that African American churches can use these newly forged connections with public agencies to influence policy and government responsiveness in a way that reaches beyond traditional electoral or protest politics. The churches and neighborhoods, Owens argues, can see a real benefit from that influence—but it may come at the expense of less involvement at the grassroots.
Anyone with a stake in the changing strategies employed by churches as they fight for social justice will find God and Government in the Ghetto compelling reading.
In the first full-length scholarly synthesis of the African American Churches of Christ, Edward J. Robinson provides a comprehensive look at the church’s improbable development against a backdrop of African American oppression. The journey begins with a lesser known preacher, F. F. Carson, in many ways a forerunner in the struggles and triumphs awaiting the preachers and lay people in the congregations to come. Robinson then builds on scholarship treating well-known figures, including Marshall Keeble and G. P. Bowser, to present a wide-ranging history of African American Churches of Christ from their beginnings—when enslaved people embraced the nascent Stone-Campbell Christian Movement even though founder Alexander Campbell himself favored slavery. The author moves on to examine how the churches grew under the leadership of S. R. Cassius, even as Jim Crow restrictions put extreme pressure on organizations of any kind among African Americans.
Robinson’s well-researched narrative treats not only the black male leaders of the church, but also women leaders, such as Annie C. Tuggle, as well as notable activities of the church, including music, education, and global evangelism, thus painting a complete picture of African American Churches of Christ. Through scholarship and compelling storytelling, Robinson tells the two-hundred-year tale of how “black believers survived and thrived on the discarded ‘scraps’ of America, forging their own identity, fashioning their own lofty ecclesiology and ‘hard’ theology, and creating their own papers, lectureships, liturgy, and congregations.” A groundbreaking exploration by a seasoned scholar in American religion, Hard-Fighting Soldiers is sure to become the standard text for anyone researching the African American Churches of Christ.
In Jezebel Unhinged Tamura Lomax traces the use of the jezebel trope in the black church and in black popular culture, showing how it is pivotal to reinforcing men's cultural and institutional power to discipline and define black girlhood and womanhood. Drawing on writing by medieval thinkers and travelers, Enlightenment theories of race, the commodification of women's bodies under slavery, and the work of Tyler Perry and Bishop T. D. Jakes, Lomax shows how black women are written into religious and cultural history as sites of sexual deviation. She identifies a contemporary black church culture where figures such as Jakes use the jezebel stereotype to suggest a divine approval of the “lady” while condemning girls and women seen as "hos." The stereotype preserves gender hierarchy, black patriarchy, and heteronormativity in black communities, cultures, and institutions. In response, black women and girls resist, appropriate, and play with the stereotype's meanings. Healing the black church, Lomax contends, will require ceaseless refusal of the idea that sin resides in black women's bodies, thus disentangling black women and girls from the jezebel narrative's oppressive yoke.
In The Labor of Faith Judith Casselberry examines the material and spiritual labor of the women of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc., which is based in Harlem and one of the oldest and largest historically Black Pentecostal denominations in the United States. This male-headed church only functions through the work of the church's women, who, despite making up three-quarters of its adult membership, hold no formal positions of power. Casselberry shows how the women negotiate this contradiction by using their work to produce and claim a spiritual authority that provides them with a particular form of power. She also emphasizes how their work in the church is as significant, labor intensive, and critical to their personhood, family, and community as their careers, home and family work, and community service are. Focusing on the circumstances of producing a holy black female personhood, Casselberry reveals the ways twenty-first-century women's spiritual power operates and resonates with meaning in Pentecostal, female-majority, male-led churches.
The Lonely Letters
Ashon T. Crawley Duke University Press, 2020 Library of Congress BX8762.5.Z8C73 2020
In The Lonely Letters, A tells Moth: “Writing about and thinking with joy is what sustains me, daily. It nourishes me. I do not write about joy primarily because I always have it. I write about joy, Black joy, because I want to generate it, I want it to emerge, I want to participate in its constant unfolding.” But alongside joy, A admits to Moth, come loneliness, exclusion, and unfulfilled desire. The Lonely Letters is an epistolary blackqueer critique of the normative world in which Ashon T. Crawley—writing as A—meditates on the interrelation of blackqueer life, sounds of the Black church, theology, mysticism, and love. Throughout his letters, A explores blackness and queerness in the musical and embodied experience of Blackpentecostal spaces and the potential for platonic and erotic connection in a world that conspires against blackqueer life. Both a rigorous study and a performance, The Lonely Letters gestures toward understanding the capacity for what we study to work on us, to transform us, and to change how we inhabit the world.
Analyzing the extensive data gathered by the Public Influences of African American Churches project, which surveyed nearly two thousand churches across the country, Long March Ahead assesses the public policy activism of black churches since the civil rights movement. Social scientists and clergy consider the churches’ work on a range of policy matters over the past four decades: affirmative action, welfare reform, health care, women’s rights, education, and anti-apartheid activism. Some essays consider advocacy trends broadly. Others focus on specific cases, such as the role of African American churches in defeating the “One Florida” plan to end affirmative action in college admissions and state contracting or the partnership forged between police and inner-city black ministers to reduce crime in Boston during the 1990s.
Long March Ahead emphasizes the need for African American churches to complement the excellent work they do in implementing policies set by others by getting more involved in shaping public policy. The contributors explore the efficacy of different means of public policy advocacy and social service delivery, including faith-based initiatives. At the same time, they draw attention to trends that have constrained political involvement by African American churches: the increased professionalization of policy advocacy and lobbying, the underdevelopment of church organizational structures devoted to policy work, and tensions between religious imperatives and political activism. Long March Ahead takes an important look at the political role of African American churches after the great policy achievements of the civil rights era.
Contributors Cathy J. Cohen Megan McLaughlin Columba Aham Nnorum Michael Leo Owens Desiree Pedescleaux Barbara D. Savage R. Drew Smith Emilie Townes Christopher Winship
New Day Begun presents the findings of the first major research project on black churches’ civic involvement since C. Eric Lincoln and Lawrence H. Mamiya’s landmark study The Black Church in the African American Experience. Since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the scale and scope of African American churches’ civic involvement have changed significantly: the number of African American clergy serving in elective and appointive offices has noticeably increased, as have joint efforts by black churches and government agencies to implement policies and programs. Filling a vacuum in knowledge about these important developments, New Day Begun assesses the social, political, and ecclesiastical factors that have shaped black church responses to American civic and political life since the Civil Rights movement.
This collection of essays analyzes the results of an unprecedented survey of nearly 2,000 African American churches across the country conducted by The Public Influences of African-American Churches Project, which is based at Morehouse College in Atlanta. These essays—by political scientists, theologians, ethicists, and others—draw on the survey findings to analyze the social, historical, and institutional contexts of black church activism and to consider the theological and moral imperatives that have shaped black church approaches to civic life—including black civil religion and womanist and afrocentric critiques. They also look at a host of faith-based initiatives addressing economic development and the provision of social services. New Day Begun presents necessary new interpretations of how black churches have changed—and been changed by—contemporary American political culture. Contributors. Lewis Baldwin, Allison Calhoun-Brown, David D. Daniels III, Walter Earl Fluker, C.R.D. Halisi, David Howard-Pitney, Michael Leo Owens, Samuel Roberts, David Ryden, Corwin Smidt, R. Drew Smith
Innovative and lavishly illustrated, Painting the Gospel offers an indispensable contribution to conversations about African American art, theology, politics, and identity in Chicago. Kymberly N. Pinder escorts readers on an eye-opening odyssey to the murals, stained glass, and sculptures dotting the city's African American churches and neighborhoods. Moving from Chicago's oldest black Christ figure to contemporary religious street art, Pinder explores ideas like blackness in public, art for black communities, and the relationship of Afrocentric art to Black Liberation Theology. She also focuses attention on art excluded from scholarship due to racial or religious particularity. Throughout, she reflects on the myriad ways private black identities assert public and political goals through imagery.
Painting the Gospel includes maps and tour itineraries that allow readers to make conceptual, historical, and geographical connections among the works.
In this book, Robert L. Stone follows the sound of steel guitar into the music-driven Pentecostal worship of two related churches: the House of God and the Church of the Living God. A rare outsider who has gained the trust of members and musicians inside the church, Stone uses nearly two decades of research, interviews, and fieldwork to tell the story of a vibrant musical tradition that straddles sacred and secular contexts.
Most often identified with country and western bands, steel guitar is almost unheard of in African American churches--except for the House of God and the Church of the Living God, where it has been part of worship since the 1930s. Sacred Steel traces the tradition through four generations of musicians and in some two hundred churches extending across the country from Florida to California, Michigan to Alabama. Presenting detailed portraits of musical pioneers such as brothers Troman and Willie Eason and contemporary masters such as Chuck Campbell, Glenn Lee, and Robert Randolph, Stone expertly outlines the fundamental tensions between sacred steel musicians and church hierarchy.
In this thorough analysis of the tradition, Stone explores the function of the music in church meetings and its effect on the congregations. He also examines recent developments such as the growing number of female performers, the commercial appeal of the music, and younger musicians' controversial move of the music from the church to secular contexts.
While assuming the importance of churches within black communities, social historians generally have not studied them directly or have treated the black denominations as a single unit. Gregg focuses on the African Methodist churches and churchgoers in Philadelphia during the Great Migration and the concurrent rise of black ghettoes in the city to show the variety and richness of African American culture at that time.
Long considered the lifeblood of urban African American neighborhoods, churches are held up as institutions dedicated to serving their surrounding communities. Omar McRoberts's work in Four Corners, however, reveals a very different picture. One of the toughest neighborhoods in Boston, Four Corners also contains twenty-nine churches, mostly storefront congregations, within its square half-mile radius. In McRoberts's hands, this area teaches a startling lesson about the relationship between congregations and neighborhoods that will be of interest to everyone concerned with the revitalization of the inner city.
McRoberts finds, for example, that most of the churches in Four Corners are attended and run by people who do not live in the neighborhood but who worship there because of the low overhead. These churches, McRoberts argues, are communities in and of themselves, with little or no attachment to the surrounding area. This disconnect makes the churches less inclined to cooperate with neighborhood revitalization campaigns and less likely to respond to the immediate needs of neighborhood residents. Thus, the faith invested in inner-city churches as beacons of local renewal might be misplaced, and the decision to count on them to administer welfare definitely should be revisited.
As the federal government increasingly moves toward delivering social services through faith-based organizations, Streets of Glory must be read for its trenchant revisionist view of how churches actually work in depressed urban areas.
Even before the emergence of the civil rights movement with black churches at its center, African American religion and progressive politics were assumed to be inextricably intertwined. In her revelatory book, Barbara Savage counters this assumption with the story of a highly diversified religious community whose debates over engagement in the struggle for racial equality were as vigorous as they were persistent. Rather than inevitable allies, black churches and political activists have been uneasy and contentious partners.
From the 1920s on, some of the best African American minds—W. E. B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, Benjamin Mays, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Mary McLeod Bethune, Charles S. Johnson, and others—argued tirelessly about the churches’ responsibility in the quest for racial justice. Could they be a liberal force, or would they be a constraint on progress? There was no single, unified black church but rather many churches marked by enormous intellectual, theological, and political differences and independence. Yet, confronted by racial discrimination and poverty, churches were called upon again and again to come together as savior institutions for black communities.
The tension between faith and political activism in black churches testifies to the difficult and unpredictable project of coupling religion and politics in the twentieth century. By retrieving the people, the polemics, and the power of the spiritual that animated African American political life, Savage has dramatically demonstrated the challenge to all religious institutions seeking political change in our time.