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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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May 1, 2015

Our Scripture verse for today is Philippians 4:19 which reads: "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

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, "The 'Black Church' has historically been a spiritual and unique psychological sustaining force for Black people. Many have observed that, without God and the 'Black Church,' Blacks in America would not have survived the horrors of the middle passage and slavery. From all indications, and contrary to some observers, the historical faith of Black people as practiced in Christianity was authentic and genuine. It was 'other­worldly,' but also 'this-worldly.' It allowed individuals to sustain hope, bear pain, endure agony, and maintain a sense of sanity -- with the hope and belief that a better day was coming by and by. Even those who do not share this faith would have to admit as history unfolded that a better day did come for Black people."

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. If you enjoy this podcast, please feel free to purchase any one of these books from our website, HistoryofBlackAmericansAndTheBlackChurch.com.

Our first topic for today is titled "The African Way of Life -- Social Organization (Part 1)" from the book, "From Slavery to Freedom" by John Hope Franklin. 

As among other peoples, the clan, a group of families related by blood, was the basis of social organization in early Africa. The foundation of even economic and political life in Africa was the clan, with its inestimable influence over individual members. Although the eldest male was usually the head of the clan, relationships were traced through the mother rather than the father. Women were central figures in African society because they were, through marriage, the keys to appropriating land and, through their labor and that of the children they bore, the means to cultivating land.

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Our second topic for today is "The Invisible Institution Comes Into Existence, Part 2" from The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier. He writes:

One qualification which the Negro preacher among the slaves needed to possess was some knowledge of the Bible. However imperfect or distorted his knowledge of the Bible might be, the fact that he was acquainted with the source of sacred knowledge, which was in a sense the exclusive possession of his white masters, gave him prestige in matters concerning the supernatural and religious among his fellow slaves. His knowledge of the sacred scriptures had to be combined with an ability to speak and communicate his special knowledge to the slaves.

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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, "White Churches with Black Membership"

Attending the master's church was the first step. The first Black converts attended the churches of masters who permitted them to engage in religious activity. It was not so much an expression of Christian brotherhood as it was an opportunity to keep an eye on the Blacks. 

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