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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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Jul 24, 2016

Our Scripture verse for today is Psalm 138:2 which reads: "Jesus saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living 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, "Rituals, offerings, songs, and prayers are all vital in the life of a church community. The rituals of baptism and communion, as well as prayer, have clear biblical sanctions. Songs, likewise, are critical to worship. The challenge is to continue these practices in a manner that is consistent with Scripture."

Our first topic for today is titled "The Slave Trade and the New World (Part 6)" from the book, "From Slavery to Freedom" by John Hope Franklin.

The Big Business of Slave Trading, continued

It must not be assumed that trading in slaves involved the simple procedure of sailing into a port, loading up with slaves, and sailing away. In addition to the various courtesy visits and negotiations that protocol required and that the traders were inclined to follow in order to keep the local leaders in good humor, it was often difficult to find enough "likely" slaves to fill a ship of considerable size. Frequently, traders had to remain at one place for two or three weeks before enough slaves were rounded up to make the negotiations worthwhile. It was not unusual for a ship to be compelled to call at four or five ports in order to purchase as many as 500 slaves. Local inhabitants frequently had to scour the interior and use much coercion to secure enough slaves to meet the demands of the traders.

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Our second topic for today is "The Negro Church: A Nation Within a Nation, Part 7" from The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier. 

--- The Church and Economic Cooperation

As DuBois pointed out more than fifty years ago, "a study of economic co-operation among Negroes must begin with the Church group." It was in order to establish their own churches that Negroes began to pool their meager economic resources and buy buildings and the land on which they stood. As an indication of the small beginnings of these churches, we may note that the value of the property of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1787 was only $2,500. During the next century the value of the property of this organization increased to nine million dollars. The Negroes in the other Methodist denominations, and especially in the numerous Baptist Churches, were contributing on a similar scale a part of their small earnings for the construction of churches.

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

--- FRUSTRATING SECULAR CONDITIONS

The years 1865-1914 are often considered the worst period in the American Negro's history. One writer referred to this period as: "the silent era, a time in which even those churches which had vociferously championed the abolition of slavery largely ignored the racial problems gathering during these years and turned their backs on the liberated slaves. (It is not coincidental that this was also the era of a vigorously expanded Protestant foreign mission program -- a possible compensation abroad for a glaring default at home) In this era, the North, preoccupied with its rapid industrial development, not only neglected the Negro it had freed, and left him to flounder, but also in a nationwide political maneuver returned the Negro to the control of his former master and to a condition little better than his previous slavery."

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