Black Liberation Theology

Ed Blum

In Sunday’s New York Times, there was a terrific article on black liberation theology, featuring James Cone, Gary Dorrien, Dwight Hopkins, James Noel, Harry Jackson, and William A. Jones. It is a terrific primer for general readers unfamiliar with liberation theology. As a religious historian, I was struck by the historical leap from slavery to the modern Civil Rights movement in it. Oftentimes, it seems that 80 years of American history are ignored when considering the religious creativity of African Americans. I was all struck by the lack of any mention of womanism or womanist theology. To fill in the gap, here are a few relatively recent works that discuss the trajectory of the religious worldviews of the slaves to the emergence of modern black liberation theology. These works connect to the early beginnings of liberation theology and are not a complete list of books on African Americans religion from the Civil War to the middle of the twentieth century. Please use the comment suggestion to add more:

Blum, W. E. B. Du Bois, American Prophet (2007)

Allen Dwight Callahan, The Talking Book: African Americans and the Bible (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006).

Mary Beth Culp, “Religion in the Poetry of Langston Hughes,” Phylon 48, no. 3 (Third Quarter, 1987): 240-245.

Kelly Brown Douglas, The Black Christ (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1994).

Caroline Goeser, Picturing the New Negro: Harlem Renaissance Print Culture and Modern Black Identity (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2007).

Dwight N. Hopkins, Introducing Black Theology of Liberation (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1999).

Dwight N. Hopkins, Shoes That Fit Our Feet: Sources for a Constructive Black Theology (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1993).

James A. Noel and Matthew V. Johnson, eds., The Passion of the Lord: African American Reflections (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005).

Anthony B. Pinn, Terror and Triumph: The Nature of Black Religion (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003).

Jill Watts, God, Harlem U.S.A.: The Father Divine Story (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992).

Delores Williams, Sisters in the Wilderness (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1995).


Anonymous said…
And of course, if you want to understand race and religion from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement, there is no better book than Paul Harvey's _Freedom's Coming_. Three words (I think): tour-de-force.
Phil said…
James Perkinson, _White Theology: Outing Supremacy in Modernity_ and _Shamanism, Racism, and Hip Hop Culture_ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004 & 2005)

James H. Smylie, “Countee Cullen’s ‘The Black Christ,’” Theology Today 38/2 (July 1981): 160-73

Curtis Evans, _The Burden of Black Religion_ (Oxford, 2008)
deg said…
Frank Rich's Sunday op-ed is also pertinent and worth reading.