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The History of Black Americans and the Black Church

The church and religion has played and continues to play a big role in the African-American community. Yet, many of us who grew up in the traditional black church do not have an understanding of how our faith evolved under the duress of slavery and discrimination to be and to represent what it does today. The purpose of this broadcast is to provide that background knowledge while also pointing out the dividing line between what is just tradition and true faith in Jesus Christ.
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Apr 23, 2015

Our Scripture verse for today is Romans 14:11 which reads: "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God."

Our History of Black Americans and the Black Church quote for today is from Lee June, a professor at Michigan State University and the author of the book, "Yet With A Steady Beat: The Black Church through a Psychological and Biblical Lens." He said, "What is the psychology in Black preaching? First, there is the negative aspect. This negative and potentially detrimental aspect plays on and deliberatively seeks the emotions of the people. Those who employ this method of preaching may or may not be genuine. Such individuals know well the language, idioms, and culture of the people and congregation; they know well how to create an atmosphere that is capable of drawing people into an experience. In the presence of such 'preaching,' if one would withdraw from the experience and become an observer, one would probably describe what is happening as devoid of much substance and content. From such a vantage point, the major goal of the ‘preaching’ would seemingly be to create an experience, a happening. One would find it difficult to differentiate some of what occurs in such a service from what one would see at a major concert or other entertainment events. This type of 'preaching' fits King's description of what often occurs in what he calls the 'Burn-up Church.' Persons who do this non-genuinely are using the people for their own benefits—whether to 'fleece the flock' or for some other motive."

 

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled "The African Way of Life -- Economic Life (Part 2)" from the book, "From Slavery to Freedom" by John Hope Franklin. 

Domestic animals were a part of almost every farm, but in some areas the rural people devoted most of their attention to the grazing of sheep and cattle and the raising of chickens and other fowl. In northeastern Africa some tribes were known for their great skill in the breeding and care of cattle. In the east, many villages ascribed so much importance to the raising of cattle that wealth was measured in terms of heads of cattle. The Bantu and Khoikhoi engaged in farming as well as large-scale cattle raising. 

Artisanry was a significant area of economic activity. Even less complex communities contained members who were skilled along various lines. Many groups exhibited remarkable knowledge of basketry, textile weaving, pottery, woodwork, and metallurgy. The Pygmies manufactured bark cloth and fiber baskets. The Khoikhoi devoted much time and attention to making clothing from textiles, skins, and furs. The Ashantis of the Gold Coast wove rugs and carpets and turned and glazed pottery with considerable skill. In many parts of the Sudan there was extensive manufacturing of woodenware, tools, and implements. 

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Our second topic for today is "The Invisible Institution Comes Into Existence, Part 1" from The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier. He writes:

It is no exaggeration to say that the "invisible institution" of the Negro church took root among the enslaved blacks. The key to an understanding of the "invisible institution" may be found in the typical remark of an ex-slave who wrote: “Our preachers were usually plantation folks just like the rest of us. Some man who had a little education and had been taught something about the Bible would be our preacher. The colored folks had their code of religion, not nearly so complicated as the white man's religion, but more closely observed... When we had our meetings of this kind, we held them in our own way and were not interfered with by the white folks."

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Our third and final topic for today is from "The Black Church in the U.S.: Its Origin, Growth, Contributions, and Outlook" by Dr. William A. Banks. Today we are looking at the section titled, "The Rise of the Black Preacher"

In time, the Black preacher played a significant role in the development of Black society. The Whites supplied the preachers most of the time in Black churches during this era. And in White churches to which Blacks were allowed to come, White ministers preached. Occasionally, Black exhorters were allowed to speak from the floor (not from the pulpit). Some congregations had Black preachers (mostly free Blacks) who became well known for their effectiveness. In the North, Lemuel Haynes was perhaps best known. Born in Connecticut in 1753, he grew to manhood in Massachusetts, served in the Revolutionary War and later was licensed to preach in the Congregational Church. One of the first Blacks in America to pastor a White congregation, he served various churches in Vermont for more than twenty years.

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