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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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Nov 27, 2015

Our Scripture verse for today is Hebrews 12:28 which reads: "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear."

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, "While the biblical expectation of giving for believers is carried out through tithes and offerings, many congregations still succumb to other methods of receiving and raising money. Although some of these practices are understandable historically, there seems to be no real justification or rationale for many of the various fund-raising practices that continue. Here I am speaking of such practices as baby contests, the selling of dinners, Tom Thumb weddings, Ms. Church contests, etc. All of these activities seem to have outlived their usefulness as viable fundraising efforts, particularly as a way to regularly support the congregation. More fundamentally, these practices can bring shame upon the name of Jesus Christ and often communicate to those outside of the congregation that there is a level of spiritual immaturity operating among the members."

Our first topic for today is titled "The Slave Trade and the New World (Part 1)" from the book, "From Slavery to Freedom" by John Hope Franklin.

When the Christians of Western Europe began to turn their attention to the slave trade in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, they were not introducing a new practice. Although they displayed much originality in approach and technique, they were engaging in a pursuit that had been a concern for countless centuries. As a matter of fact, slavery was widespread during the earliest known history of Africa as well as of other continents. Doubtless there was cruelty and oppression in African slavery as there was anywhere that the institution developed. At least in some portions of Africa there was no racial basis of slavery.

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Our second topic for today is "The Negro Church: A Nation Within a Nation, Part 1" from The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier. He writes:

The “Invisible Institution” Merges with the Institutional Church

The Civil War and Emancipation destroyed whatever stability and order that had developed among Negroes under the slave regime. An educated mulatto minister of the AME Church who went from the North to the South following Emancipation wrote: “The whole section (in the neighborhood of Charleston, South Carolina) with its hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children just broken forth from slavery, was, so far as these were concerned, dying under an almost physical and moral interdict. There was no one to baptize their children, to perform marriage, or to bury the dead. A ministry had to be created at once -- created out of the materials at hand.”

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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 part 1 of Chapter 4: "Reconstruction and Retaliation -- 1866 to 1914"

JIM CROW

If the material which has been covered thus far in this text could be entitled "Slavery to Freedom," the next section, embracing the Civil War to World War 1, can be called "Freedom to Jim Crow." Jim Crow is a slang term for the post Civil War practice of systematically segregating and suppressing the American black man. It was the successful attempt by whites to shackle the freed blacks and to establish a permanent caste system based on race. Jim Crow was a character in a play by Thomas D. Rice who died in 1860. In the play, performed in a New Orleans theater, the Negro folk-nonsense ballad was sung by a Negro cripple who flopped about the stage imitating the motions of a crow. It was such a success that black-faced comedians of both races all across the country tried their hand at it. The term probably came to have its present meaning because it describes the Negro crippled by the many segregation laws established at this time.

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