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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 20, 2015

Our Scripture verse for today is Psalm 1:1-2 which reads: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night."

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, "Within the 'Black Church' and depending on the denomination, the ritual of baptism is performed differently. For some it is done by total immersion and others practice 'sprinkling.' Some baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit while others baptize in the name of Jesus only. But regardless of the specific practice, this act has tremendous spiritual and psychological significance to the one being baptized as well as upon the congregation. In baptism, one experiences identification with Jesus Christ, a movement from being a 'sinner' to becoming a 'saint.' It is a washing away of sins, a cleansing, and is part of becoming a new person in Christ."

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 Christian Kongo" from the book, "From Slavery to Freedom" by John Hope Franklin.

The kingdom of Kongo in West Central Africa was founded in the fourteenth century. It was unique for its voluntary conversion to Catholicism, which occurred after the Kongolese king Nzinga a Nkuwu asked Portuguese priests to baptize him in 1491. He adopted his baptismal name João I and established trade and religious relations with Portugal, allowing Portuguese merchants and priests into his kingdom. However, in Kongo, Africans and not the Portuguese controlled the church, and thus Catholic worship melded indigenous religious beliefs and practices with Christianity.

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Our second topic for today is "The Institutional Church of the Free Negroes, Part 8" from The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier. He writes:

The Free Negroes Establish Their Own Churches (Continued)

With the division of congregations came the development of a distinct religious observance combining elements of African ritual, slave emotionalism, southern suffering, and individual eloquence. Working-class Baptist and Methodist church services fused African and European forms of religious expression to produce a unique version of worship that reflected the anguish, pain, and occasional elation of nineteenth-century black life in the United States.

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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 continuing with part 5 of Chapter 3: "Reaction -- 1820 to 1865"

EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE CIVIL WAR

By the 1850s, cotton had become king, accounting for nearly half of the total value of our exports. And the black man who worked the cotton had become a great divider of men. Things were heading toward a climax in the 1850s and, as time wore on, turbulence increased. Deciding which states would become free of slavery was a problem. Slave owners and abolitionists were at each others' throats. The novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, by H. B. Stowe appeared in 1352 and had a tremendous impact against slavery. The Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court was handed down in 1857. Scott, taken to free territory by his master, filed a lawsuit for his freedom, but the court denied it, claiming he could not sue because he was not a citizen.

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