A New Book

greenspun.com : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

On last evening I stopped by Borders to browse through their collection of books. I am initiating a book club at my Church School and wanted to obtain a list of some new books to propose to the other club members. One of the books published in 2002 that caught my eye is called Keeping the Faith: African American Sermons of Liberation edited by James Haskins (Prof. of English & African American Studies Univ. of Florida). As I began to peruse the book I noticed the editor had a section for those contributors who provided their selected homily on faith, struggle and liberation. Some of the contributors, both deceased and living, provide a venerable Who's Who in the black preaching Hall of Fame. Gardner C. Taylor, Martin L. King, Jr., Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Jesse Jackson, Jr., Wyatt T. Walker, Samuel Dewitt Proctor, C. L. Franklin, Jeremiah Wright and Jasper Williams head the list. Some of the names were unkown to me: C.C. Lovelace, Katie G. Canon, Sharone Davis-Smith, Carol Ann North, Frederick B. Williams. Much to my chagrin, not one of the listed contributors in the book was an AME clergyman. Both the Episcopal Church and the United Prysbeterian Church were represented but not the AMEC. Well pardon me, I guess I must have slept through 200 + years of liberation theology in America. As an AME, but more importantly as a lay thinker on Christian theology, I find the exclusion of the AMEC in any discussion about liberation and black people in America to be intellectually suspect. Many of the above Hall of Fame Preachers are black Baptist. As an ex-Progressive Baptist I know first hand their preaching prowess. Their prodigious careers merit inclusion on any topic about liberation. But, I also knew, even when I was Baptist, that the Father of Black Liberation Theology was not M. L. King, Jr. or Adam Clayton Powell or James Cone but Bishop Henry McNeil Turner. His timeless sermon God is A Negro was and still is the standard for black liberation, at least in my non-seminary trained mind. This truth was shared with me not by attending church but through my undergraduate studies in American History. To compeletly ignore the historical contributions of Turner, Bishop Benjamin Tanner or one of my favorites, Bishop Reverdy Cassisus Ransom ( man I like that name!!) is quite frankly, dereliction in duty and an insult to all Christians. To not include a modern clergyman like Bishop John Bryant is simply stupid. I became a fan of Bryant not when I began attending Bethel AME in 1994 but long ago in my Baptist days when he would frequent the campus of Hampton University where I worked and when my friend Paulette Coleman would drag me from my comfortable DC settings to drive 35 minutes to Baltimore to visit his congregation. The AME Church is the birthplace of liberation theology in America dating back to Allen. This is an indisputable fact. Any reasonably well-read person, even non-AME, acknowledges this point. Except however, Professor Haskins, who professes in his brief bio in the book to be an "expert on African American culture". My point is not about denominational chauvinism, Lord knows many AMEs are equally guilty of this unproductive activity, but facts are facts and revisonist scholarship cannot change reality. I normally do book reviews in economics and social policy but given the above literary gaffe passing off as scholarship, I'm giving serious consideration to stepping in the arena of religion. Injustice is not only anti-Christian but an enemy of intellectual growth. QED

-- Anonymous, August 01, 2002


My, My, My . . . . that book rattled your cage Bro. Bill and mine too. I can only say AMEN to all that you said. BTW, where can I read "God Is A Negro". I confess my ignorance and need to correct this right away. Be Blessed

Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, August 01, 2002

Thanks Bill! I agree. Let's examine a current black liberator--Rev. Floyd Flakes. I heard him speak at Fort Valley State College and is inspired by his speech. Where can I find your reviews? I'd love to read them.


-- Anonymous, August 01, 2002

Amen Bro. Bill

There is much for us to do. We have not provided a report, let alone a good one, on the critical impact of African Methodism in the arena of civil rights and freedom in the United States and around the world.It may surprise you that even in Bermuda the AME Church was crucial in furthering the cause. Bishop Vernon R Byrd, when Pastoring in Bermuda led causes for equality of Blacks and today most Bermudian, let alone AME's even know.

Thanks for raising the point.

-- Anonymous, August 01, 2002

Bill thank you for your well versed insights. You are absolutely correct how can one mention liberation theology without listing an A.M.E preacher! Bill could you please post the name of the publisher of this book, I would like to write the publisher and editor and share some A.M.E history with them. Brother Bill keep up the good work in letting us know what is going on. One other thing, we also have to write our story and get them published. MY daughter (your adopted niece) is working on a big project that is A.M.E related. She is a journalist and film maker and some printed works will come out of her project. She is 25, God is doing a new thing within our denomination. P.S Bill and my daughter are alums of American University and he does this eagle thing, the eagle is their mascot. I don't get it, but the two of them thing it's funny;-)

-- Anonymous, August 01, 2002

Bill, I like Rev. Paris, would like to read Bishop Turner's 'God is a Negro.' I would like to add that list of preachers, the Rev. Jesse Jackson out of New Jersey, who worked diligently on the black profiling issue. Also, the Rev. Dr. Renita Weems. She has authored several books and participated in the PBS series "The Genesis Project." Her sermons are most spirit filled and awe inspiring.

-- Anonymous, August 01, 2002

In my earlier entry, I said Rev. Jessie Jackson. Please forgive the error. I meant to write the Rev. Reginald Jackson an AME preacher in NJ who led the fight in the NJ profiling issue.

Also, brother Dickens, you said that you are giving serious consideration to stepping out in the arena of religion. How so? God bless.

-- Anonymous, August 01, 2002

Dear Bro.QED Could it be possible that we have the information and books but do not circulate this invaluable History and other literary works. If we don't ask for it or seek it, why should anyone publish it. I believe Dr. Dennis Dickerson has some of the most informative information on our Church. Can someone advise if this information exist?

In addition Bro. Bill In attending the General Board meeting in Tampa I was able to get my hands on some of the reports. Our Church does not appear to spend much money on these important commisions within the Board. We truely need to find new ideas for economic empowerment so that these areas can be improved.

-- Anonymous, August 01, 2002

Bro. Bill and Sis. D.Renee have inspired me to go to the library and get some A.M.E history books. I did an inter library loan and I got "The History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Vol. 1 and 2" I was able to get it from the University of Montana library in one day. As I read the book I will keep you posted. If there is a book that you are interested in, go to your local library to see if they have it or not. If they do not have it they can do an interlibrary loan, (get the book from another library). I was pleasantly surprised to find the book regarding the AME history was in the state of Montana. I also found out that the University of Montana was one of the first universities in the country to offer a degree in African and African american studies in 1967. Anyway may the peace of Christ be upon you!!

-- Anonymous, August 01, 2002

^5 to Bro. Bill. I'm really feeling you with this for I feel the same. Perhaps, it's a passion about areas where AMEC truly needs to embrace and expand. Bishop Bryant and Bishop Ingram( or even the Ingram team) are also dynamic message deliverers and encouragers. How about even adding a little music flava with past writings of Mother Ming ( it they can be found)? Oh, can copies of Bishop Turner's sermon be obtained?? It's a Ga. thang...:)

@Sis. Brenda....YES! Rev. Flake is phenomenal. His wisdom, experience, and hunger for teaching the word and life continues to captivate me. I still get chills from his walking across the chancel rail during a seminar given at my church. Let me point out that although AME's revere the holy areas, Rev. Flake was revealing how we can't get so caught up in rituals...we must understand its meaning...its symbolism.

@ Rev. Denise.....blessings on your daughter with her project. It sounds like a great creative and historically challenging task. God will enable her.

.... and Thanks and God be praised for inspiration. As I said before, maybe it's my passion not only as an AME(lifer), but as a soldier in His army. Our history, initial purpose and, of course, God's great commission on the denomination is sooo awesome. We can't let it fail or take a back seat. There has to be a way that we can bring out the great literary works of AMEC to share with the world.

OK, enough for now....let me get off of my soap box....momentarily...:)

...and as Mother Ming would say...PRESS ON !

-- Anonymous, August 02, 2002


You are certainly right on it. A famous quote of my High School band director was, "He who tooteth not his horn, his horn will not be tooted." The life of Allen, Payne and Turner are well worth our research and exploration. Perhaps I shall speak more of Turner (a contemporary and colleague of my grandfather whose name I bear) in another string.

Unfortunately we are often the blame when others overlook our greatness. For all too often we have failed to teach or even learn from whence we have come. Thus, we know little about who we are, who we have become or what we are about. This gap is widened by the fact that we think we do God a favor by putting down the very things to which He has called us and the trials He has brought us through. From the pulpit to the pew it has often become the trend of the day to put down the name A.M.E. Thus we open the door for others to do the same.

It give me much consternation to read that we have not been taught that to walk upon a chancel rail is not in defiance of a time honored tradition but really in defiance to God. For we have failed to realize that some things are and ought to remain holy and consecrated (set apart) to His Glory and honor alone. This is true also of the elements of bread and wine, which we are told, may not be reused but totally consumed, as should be also of the lives, which we live. I am reminded of a church in my own city which through "white flight" sold their property to a famous restaurant chain and the high altar now is the site of be main bar. Thanks to His loving kindness and tender mercies that He does not in our foolishness and folly strike us down.

The time has come and long since past that we have to relearn, rethink, and teach anew who we are and what we are about. "When your children shall ask you what mean these stones, Tell them God..." The Bible advises us to use every opportunity to TEACH our children and TRAIN them in the way of our faith. It explicitly states that we are to teach them and at no point does it state that they are to teach us. My own experience has been that they eagerly receive it when we do. But when we do not confusion reigns. History records that failure to do so results in "Babylonian" experience.

Since I began with a quote, let me also end with one, which I think, sums up much of our experience in our day and my answer to several issues recently raided on this Discussion Board.

"By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept when we remembered thee, O Zion. There we hang our harps on the willows. Our captors required of us SINGING and MIRTH. (Does this sound familiar or ring a bell--anyone??) They said to us, "Sing for us one of the song of Zion."

--How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? (from Psalm 137, paraphrased)

-- Anonymous, August 03, 2002

I am not certain if Bishop Turner's magnum opus, "God is a Negro" is available online but I'm sure James Cone's article from the following link would steer you in the right direction - http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/apr1986/v43-1-article1.htm

My statement about "stepping in the arena of religion" refers to my expanded literary/writing contributions. I have not "heard the call" to preach if this is what Mary may have been speculating :-)

A few updated points need to be mentioned about the book in question. First, the book does come with a CD which contains 6 additional sermons from those described in the book. I do not know if any of the contributors on the CD are AME clergy because I didn't make a purchase after quickly reviewing the book. Second, I contacted Professor Haskins' office to share my thoughts and concerns but his secretary informed me that he is on leave and will not return until later this year. I will follow-up with an email to him expressing my issues. Third, I do intend to purchase the book and submit a book review after a full and careful read. Finally, as Robert Matthews correctly notes, all too often AMEs have voluntarily surrendered their claim of historical significance and allowed other researchers to join in the "put down" This observation by Matthews is also apropos in this thread because some black scholars attribute the idea "God is a Negro" not to Turner but to Howard Thurman. While it is true that Thurman was a prolific scholar in theology and did use this term of endearment, he is not, repeat is not, the orginator. That claim rests exclusively with Turner. This is so simple I'm sure my 7 year old son can understand (and he will) yet we as "learned adults" continue to obfuscate, misrepresent, embellish the truth and in some cases flat-out lie with the assurance of immunity. This non-sense must cease because it benefits absolutely no one and hurts too many. I'll let you know when my review of Keeping the Faith will be available for general reading. QED

-- Anonymous, August 06, 2002


Let me hasten to say that I have the utmost respect and the highest regard for those who struggled in the Civil Right Movement of the 1950s and 60s. This is especially true for those who gave their lives for the cause. However, this is one point in which AMEs also dropped the ball and allowed others to get credit for we have done.

There are countless unsung heroes in the Movement whom we shall never know but a few of them come to mind as I think about what we are discussing in this thread. The first is The Reverend Vernon Johns who preceded Dr. Martin Luther King to Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery and through sermons, lectures and demonstration made the soil fertile for the events which were to follow. The rest that come to mind are all AMEs.

The Movement itself might never have begun If Rosa Park--a lifetime AME-- had not believed and acted upon what she was taught about her own self worth and the dignity of all human beings in Saint Paul AME Church. It was also the pastor of Saint Johns AME, who realizing the time was ripe called for action at his own church and launched the movement which selected the new young pastor of Dexter Avenue, Dr. MLK, Jr., as its spokesperson.

But the most overlooked and unsung I believer was Asa Philip Randolph- -an AME preacher's son who worked, planned and threatened for more than twenty years to bring a massive demonstration of blacks to Washington, DC. He threatened every President from Truman to Kennedy with the possibility that this could be done. Thus, on August 28, 1963 he brought it to pass. Largely though the efforts of Randolph, alone, this March occurred. Yet AMEs sat quietly by as the US government issued a stamp to honor this occasion in another name, and the name of Randolph was never heard.

At the Republican National Convention of 1952, Archibald James Carey, Jr., an AME Bishop's son, delivered a speech entitled, "Let Freedom Ring". Eleven years later, at the March on Washington in 1963, Randolph invited a keynote speaker to the event, which he had planned. The massage the speaker brought was almost a carbon copy of Carry's speech. Yet the name A. J. Carey is never heard and today is hardly even know.

J.S. Bach wrote a cantata called, "Sleepers Wake which is based on the "Wise and Foolish Virgins" and Jesus' Return. The opening words are:

"Wake, awake, for night is flying: The watchmen on the heights are crying, Awake, Awake Jerusalem!

It's time to wake up AMEs.

-- Anonymous, August 10, 2002

Many thanks to Robert for recognizing the negelected contributions of Rev. Archibald Carey, Jr. The deification of MLK, Jr. (much like Richard Allen) among black Christians & non-Christians is most unfortunate. As a lifelong Baptist I was always troubled by this practice and became even more convinced about the folly after the public reaction to Rev. Ralph Abernathy's "controversial" autobiography in the early 90s. The bottom line is both Allen & King were unusually great men yt, imperfect Ambassadors for Christ who respectfullly orchestrated the two most important reform movements in the US. It is a well known fact among historians that selected passages of King's epic speech, "I Have A Dream" were lifted from Carey's address to the GOP Convention. Claiborne Carson, Professor of History @ Stanford and noted King Biographer is well aware of this issue but don't hold your breath on him going public. I also doubt that Coretta will ever allow for a correct reading of this history at the King Center in the ATL for fear it will somehow "desecrate" or diminish the image of Martin. The irony of this maternalistic form of thinking is that those who choose to ignore facts such as the Carey issue become willing co-conspirators in advancing a massive misinformation campaign. This is one campaign I refuse to become a member. Even more ironic was the fact that MLK knew both Bishop Carey and his son "Archie", Jr. King actually wrote to Bishop Carey in Chicago to seek his help in putting political pressure on the owners of the Montogomery Bus Company to reform their discriminatory policy. The company was actually headquartered in Chicago, IL where Carey resided. To say MLK was less-than charitable in recognizing his precursors like Carey is more than diplomatic. The struggle for black liberation and full enfranchisement in 20th century America was spearheded by an ecumenical black church. While evidence concludes that 20th century black Baptists were the catalysts for social change (much like the AMEC was the catalyst during the 19th century) other black clergymen valliatly stood tall and articulated a non- compromising message about life, liberty and justice for all Americans. QED

-- Anonymous, August 10, 2002

Dear Robert and Bill your posts are thought provoking and in my opinion a call for rememberance. Our denomination is very rich with a history that impacts all people. I feel that our history falls under the category of evangelism. For through our trials, tribulations and racism, we as A.M.E's have prevailed because of God and our faith. This is a story that needs to told for the 21st century; as the aids epedemic continues, alqueda, child kidnapping, collapse of financial institutions etc loom large on the horizon. If we can look back and see how we survived jim crow, slavery, illiteracy etc. using scripture and the tools of the church we can do it again! My daughter and I are reading the history of the African american church by Daniel Payne. In the preface of the book Bishop Payne shares that his precedessor Mr. Hogarth had tried to gather the history of our church and had sent letters and forms to ministers and received nothing in return. Mr. Hogarth gave up. Daniel Payne was assigned the task of historographer at the general conference in 1848. He too also had little or no response from his pleas for information from ministers, but he kept what history, newspapers he could get his hands on and kept working on the project. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to him! We can and should use his methodology for documenting present day history. Methodology I might add that is being taught in colleges and universities today, primarily in the field of sociology, anthropology and history. Bishop Payne looked at our history through a sociological perspective. What were the causal effects for why certain decisions were made in our church. ie. economic influences, environmental, personalities of ministers and Bishops. His assessment and record of our history is monumental in it's scope, for it provides a worldview for african americans that we can build upon today. I am a country preacher so I begin with the practical, my congregation does not have computers, or access to libraries with our history. How do I teach I teach them and motivate them to carry the legacy of our denomination and fullfill the great commission of Jesus Christ. My daughter is our Christian Education Superintendant and we feel that the legacy and recording of our history has to come through the christian education department, which is why she is producing a multi-media project that can be used in rural areas and will be able to be used in schools, universities. Lastly our discussion board has become an A.M.E think tank, we must take our collective ideas and use them in the local church. Richard Allen knew that education would and could be used to liberate his people. We must use are college and advanced degrees to promote the kingdom of God and to bring the lost and broken to Christ. One way is to publish, produce, record, write and keep alive oral tradition. I am excited about future works that will come from our denomination. My daughter is producing an A.M.E multi-media project. It is imperative that talk to our young people and ask their help in keeping our history alive. Our young people know how to use modern technology, they are creating web pages or we can use our history to teach them how to us the computer.

-- Anonymous, August 10, 2002


One correction. The person who M. L. King knew and was in contact with was the Reverend Archibald Carey, Jr.--the son of the Bishop. He was also the person who addressed the Republican National Convention in 1952.

Bishop Archibald Carey (43rd Bishop) was one of the sixteen native Georgians whom I mentioned in another string as having become a Bishop. He was born in Atlanta in 1868. In 1892, he organized and built Bethel AMEC in Athens, GA. He then went on to Chicago where he played a key role in the political arena.

According to one source I have he died in 1931, but according to the A.M.E. Discipline he was elected in 1920 and served the Epioscopacy for 16 years. Thus, his death would have occurred in 1936.

-- Anonymous, August 10, 2002


You have really sparked my interest with this string and got my mind racing with facts I had long since forgotten.

Another little known fact is that Adam Clayton Powell Sr. once pastored Bethel AME Church in New York City. He was later joined in his work by Reverdy Cassius Ransom (48th Bishop) after Ransom left Chicago. It was at Bethel along with Ransom that Powell developed his liberation gospel, which he took with him as the founder and pastor of Abyssinian Baptist.

Both Powell and Ransom were among the founders of the Niagra Movement, which was spearheaded by W.E.B. DuBois, and later came to be known as the NAACP. Atlanta University also twice hired DuBois as did our own Wilberforce University in between.


See also: W. E. B. DuBois - The Niagra Movement and the lick which follow each site.

-- Anonymous, August 10, 2002

Moderation questions? read the FAQ