Dope Believers of Black History’s Past, Present, and Future by Sub:Culture Incorporated Sub:Culture Incorporated 732 Eden Way North, STE. E #216 Chesapeake, Virginia 23320 Copyright © 2020 by Sub:Culture Incorporated All rights reserved. This book or any parts of this book may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—without prior written permission of the publisher, except as provided by United States of America copyright law. Unless otherwise cited, the information in Dope Believers of Black History’s Past, Present and Future is derived from publicly sourced biographies of our nominees as well as their personal and/or professional websites. Cover design by Lala England Interior design and typesetting by Lala England
CONTENTS NOTE FROM OUR FOUNDER AND CEO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 NOTE FROM OUR COO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 SAINT MOSES THE BLACK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 TRUTH'S TABLE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 LISA V. FIELDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 REV. DR. NEICHELLE GUIDRY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 REV. DR. BRIANNA PARKER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 WOMANIST THEOLOGY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 THE REV. DR. WIL GAFNEY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 DANTE STEWART . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 CHANCE THE RAPPER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 LIBERATION THEOLOGY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 JEMAR TISBY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 GAYRAUD S. WILMORE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 REV. DR. JAMES CONE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 DR. VINCE BANTU . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 REV. DR. KATIE CANNON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 REVEREND FRED SHUTTLESWORTH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 TONY WARNER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 JACKIE HILL PERRY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 LECRAE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 YVONNE ORJI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 GEORGE LIELE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 JARENA LEE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 AVA DUVERNAY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 HOWARD THURMAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 BLACK POWER MOVEMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 KIRK FRANKLIN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 JO SAXTON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 TOM SKINNER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 BRYAN A. STEVENSON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 CHRISTENA CLEVELAND . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 BARACK OBAMA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 WHAT NOW? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 CLOSING MESSAGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 WHERE YOU CAN FIND US . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
A note from our founder and CEO Sub:Culture Incorporated was born from fourteen years of college campus ministry, deep love for my culture and an unshakable burden for Black College Students. It was fashioned in light of an ardent desire to see the eradication of every spiritual, cultural, academic, and sociological barrier that stands in their way. We advocate for Black Students by creating content for the campus, the culture, and the church, and by supplementing their financial aid with our Student Transition & Relief Fund. To increase awareness of Sub:Culture’s efforts and continue generating revenue for our relief fund, we have developed a limited edition Black History Month publication called: Dope Believers of Black History’s Past, Present, and Future. February was a special month for Americans. It was a time to celebrate Black History, Black Culture, and Black Achievement. For us at Sub:Culture, it was also a perfect time to highlight the figures who have been equally as unapologetic about their faith as their blackness. The individuals we’ve chosen either represent black history in the making or those who have passed but whose contributions to our collective past have gone relatively overlooked. Far too often, society celebrates and honors a notable individual after the person has died. At Sub:Culture, we want to counter this trend by giving these Black History makers their flowers while they can smell them. Because Sub:Culture is a faith-based organization, Dope Believers celebrates people who not only stand out as figures of Black history but those who stand out in Redemptive History as well. We define “Redemptive history” as the arc of history that points to God’s work of salvation through Christ in the world: holistic healing, delivering, and rescuing of creation. Our honorees have allowed their love for God to influence their contributions to art, poetry, literature, thought leadership, theology, ministry, and music.
We are very excited to present our (nonexhaustive) 2020 list of Dope Believers of Black Historyâ€™s Past, Present, and Future. May the messages, the movements, and the ministries of these brothers and sisters serve as motivation to all of us as we strive to make our own stamp on both Black and Redemptive History. Aseâ€™ and Amen. Irreversibly Convicted that Black Lives and Representation Matter,
Tamice N. Spencer Founder & CEO Sub:Culture Inc. & Sub:Culture Students
In schools all across the country, kids will honor the figures who fought to move the culture forward. Broadcast networks will feature segments on the Slave Trade and online platforms will be flooded with inspirational quotes. During this month, the sin of racism will be openly discussed without fear of backlash or vitriol. For believers there is another possible way forward through the mundane nature of Black history month. Black history month can serve as an impetus for believers engaging with the glory of Jesus. Just as every new year sparks a desire for intentional focus and change, Black history month can as well. As we study men and women from the past we can begin to see Godâ€™s handiwork all throughout the tapestry of human existence. As we study the evils of racism we can reflect on how short humanity can fall from the purity and goodness of God. As we take time to focus on imago dei revealed in Black people God can reveal Himself to us in new and exciting ways. Here lies the heart behind this resource that we have crafted. We wanted to take an approach to black history that is a bit different from ordinary resources. We have compiled black people from the past and present who are Christians and had massive impact in their areas of expertise as well as black culture. The ripple effects from the people we have chosen to take a close up look at are undeniable. We have chosen to tell the stories of people you may know and people you probably have not heard of. Through all of this the goal is clear: the glorification of Jesus Christ. The end goal isnâ€™t black supremacy but Christ and His supremacy. We hope that as you read through this booklet your heart will be inspired and engaged with God. We hope that this booklet will be a light in a sin sick and weary world. Through the short articles we have placed throughout the booklet we pray that you find topics to go deeper with in conversation, prayer, and study. Happy Black History Month to you. Robert J. Monson Chief Operations Officer Sub:Culture Students
s e os M Saint k c a l B the
“O Sun, if you are God, let me know it! O God, whom I do not know, let me know you.” WHO THEY ARE: Saint Moses the Black was an Ethiopian monk who lived during the fourth century. After witnessing his parents’ brutal murder, he became a slave to a powerful man in Egypt until one day he was banished for theft and murder. Moses went on to become an OG, leading a band of ruthless bandits in a lifestyle of savagery and theft until he experienced a powerful encounter where he met God, repented of his sins and joined a monastery. He was killed at age 75 at the entrance of the very monastery he started.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Loyalty. God knows the end from the beginning. Moses the Black has a story that is not unfamiliar to young African-American males. He went from being an angry and violent gang leader to being a prophetic leader of his own monastery. Before he died, Moses the Black was in charge of over 75 monks. He left a legacy of compassion and open-mindedness that stood in the face of any and all who would seek to judge others.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : Moses the Black: Thief, Murderer, Monk, Saint by Jared Zimmer The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection by Benedicta Ward
Truth's Table WHO THEY ARE: Each of these phenomenal women could fill an entire page with exploits.
“Race is not a category in the Bible. It did not exist because it is not something that will be redeemed — it was meant to hold and hoard power,” - Ekemini Uwan Ekemini Uwan is a public theologian who received her Master of Divinity degree in 2016 from Westminster Theological Seminary and During her time at WTS she won the 2015 Greene Prize in Apologetics Award.
“Hope reminds us that injustice is not going to be enduring forever. We have a confidence that is separate from our current circumstance.” - Dr. Christina Edmondson Dr. Christina Edmondson holds a PhD in Counseling Psychology from Tennessee State University, an MS degree from the University of Rochester in Family Therapy, and a BA in Sociology from Hampton University.
“ When you see evil you have a prophetic responsibility to call evil, evil. As ministers of the gospel, we have to tear that mess down,” - Michelle Higgins Rev. Michelle Higgins is the co-founder of Action St. Louis, and executive director of Faith for Justice, a coalition of Christian activists pursuing the biblical call to action in the public sphere. She is a native of St. Louis and works with the Movement 8
for Black Lives, providing leadership development, logistics, and administrative support in both sacred and secular spaces. Michelle Higgins has made defending oppressed communities from police brutality her top priority. We have featured them here collectively as the hosts of the renowned podcast Truth’s Table. Michelle Higgins, Christina Edmondson, and Ekemini Uwan are Black Christian women who love truth and justice. They offer their insightful and unique perspectives on race, politics, gender, current events, and pop culture that are beautifully filtered through the lens of their Christian faith.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Wisdom. The Truth’s Table hosts believe they are “midwives of culture for grace and truth.” If you’ve ever seen the birth process, you know there is nothing cute about it. All three women have experienced their share of hate, resistance and disapproval for having the courage to consistently speak truth to power no matter the cost. These women are forging a path for the next generation of truth tellers and showing us how it is done.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : www.truthstable.com Ekemini @sista_theology Christina @DrCEdmondson Michelle @AfroRising
Lisa V. Fields “Apologetics material is often dated. Often we are answering questions people aren’t even asking.” WHO THEY ARE: Lisa V. Fields graduated from the University of North Florida with a BS in Communications and Religious Studies and Liberty University with a Master of Divinity with a focus in Theology. Lisa is the founder and president of the Jude 3 Project.The primary mission of the Jude 3 Project is their event “Courageous Conversations”. The first gathering was held in August of 2018. Courageous Conversations is a national gathering of prominent black scholars and pastors from different theological backgrounds to discuss various biblical topics. Jude 3 was formed to help the Christian community know what they believe and why they believe it.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Excellence. For Lisa V. Fields. theological depth is attainable by anyone who is hungry for more understanding. Lisa’s experiences with religion in college created a desire to see other young people equipped with the tools they needed to defend their faith with humility and confidence. Her drive to address relevant issues and questions that are distinctive to the Black community has made waves across a plethora of theological circles. Lisa is making moves so that a generation will be sober-minded, thoroughly equipped and biblically sound.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : www.jude3project.org @LisaVFields @jude3project
Rev. Dr .
e l l e h c Nei y Guidr “ I wholeheartedly believe that any of us, any AfricanAmerican, black woman who has the privilege of sitting in an institution of higher education, is there because some ancestor made the journey across the Atlantic. Some ancestor was hung. Some ancestor was lynched. Some ancestor couldn’t vote. And far be it from us to not live and work in homage to them.” WHO THEY ARE: Rev. Dr. Neichelle Guidry is a graduate of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (2017), where she completed her Doctor of Philosophy in the area of liturgical studies, with a concentration in homiletics. Her dissertation is entitled Towards a Womanist Homiletical Theology for Subverting Rape Culture. She was ordained for ministry in 2010 and has since gone on to inspire womanists and theologians all over the country. She is the creator of shepreaches, a virtual community and professional development organization that aspires to uplift African-American millennial women in ministry through theological reflection, fellowship, and liturgical curation. In addition, The Rev. Dr. is the Dean of Spelman College’s Sisters Chapel.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Dynamic. She is all about professionally developing millennial women preachers. She has an uncanny ability to broach topics of sexuality, feminism and Jesus’ interaction with women in the gospels. She has created a wealth of resources and education for millennial women so that they feel less isolated and more empowered to do ministry. Dr. Guidry was named in Time Magazine’s “Faces of Black Leadership in 2018”! Rev. Dr. Guidry is the embodiment of a prophetic voice crying out in the wilderness of navigating ministry as a Black woman.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : www.shepreaches.com 11
Brianna Parker .
“I sometimes wonder if we lack depth because we sit in comfortable places and we forget the great needs that are out there beyond our own. Like, we are concerned with paying Sallie Mae, but there are other people who are concerned with paying the thirty-seven dollars a month so that they can stay in their apartment.” WHO THEY ARE: Rev. Dr. Brianna Parker is a fiery preacher, teacher, and researcher. She is the founder of Black Millennial Cafe. BMC offers consulting and provides profound data for those who want to intelligently engage Black millenials about the faith. The Rev. Dr. also has a Master of Divinity in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Fuller Theological Seminary, a Master of Arts in Church-State Studies from Baylor University, and a Doctor of Ministry from Virginia Union University’s Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Creative. The Rev. Dr. engages American society creatively. Instead of condemning the culture, she often uses the culture and facts related to present-day issues as a way to engage with Christianity. Her work with data about Black millenials is groundbreaking, as often this demographic is overlooked when Christians are polled or referenced.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : www.irunbmc.com @BlackMillCafe @rev_bri 12
B Y TA M I C E N . S P E N C E R & R O B E R T M O N S O N Womanist theology is a theological conversation that focuses on the relationship of Black women to each other, to the world, and to the divine. Since the creation of the field, Womanist scholars and theologians have been a vital part of theological and social history in the United States and around the world. Within a Christian context, Womanist theology uses the varied lives of Black women as a means for engaging Scripture and Christian tradition. Womanist theology emerged in the 1970s as a response to the limitations of Black liberation theology and feminist theology. Womanists grew dissatisfied with the narrow male-centered focus of Black liberation theology. They argued that Black liberation theology was helpful and unhelpful for them as Black women. On one hand, Black liberation theology was helpful in advocating for Black life in 20th-century America. On the other, Black women critiqued these theologians as not addressing the needs of Black women (for instance, compare Delores Williams to James Cone). Black liberation theology did not adequately address the patriarchy present in American Christianity. Womanist theology therefore emerged as a means of attending to the unique needs of Black women. Womanist theology also emerged in response to the limits of feminist theology. Feminist theology, which had emerged earlier in the 20th century, focused on the theological perspectives of White women. Alice Walker, the Black woman regarded as coining the term “womanist,” describes the relationship beautifully: “a womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender.” That is, womanist theology is related to feminist theology, but has a different scope. Womanist theology gives language to the specific suffering and gifts of Black women. There are a wide variety of approaches that Womanist theologians have taken in engaging Scripture and Christian tradition. Some scholars have focused on identifying Black women in the biblical accounts. Others have sought to find meaningful examples outside of the Bible in order to expand the understanding of God’s work for and through Black women throughout history. Although it centers Black women, the clarity and energy that Womanist theology brings to biblical and societal engagement has immense impact on helping all people. Womanist theologians firmly believe that embrace of the particular can lead to an embrace of the universal. Womanist theology was birthed from the need for survival. Womanist theology puts a strong emphasis on ethics, sociology and even anthropology. By amplifying society’s most marginalized voices, Womanist theology unapologetically centers the experience and worldviews of Black women as primary sources for moral and theological reflection. Black women contend with every “ism” known to humanity, including sexism, fetishism, colorism, racism and classism. The gift of this theological approach is its ability to comfort and empower the weary, overlooked and under-appreciated souls of Black women for whom “the yoke is too heavy”. 13
The Rev . Dr .
WHO THEY ARE:
The Rev. Wil Gafney, PhD is a prolific womanist scholar and a Professor of the Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School. She has degrees from Duke University, Howard University School of Divinity, and Earlham College. Dr. Gafney is the author of Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction to the Women of the Torah and the Throne. Dr. Gafney, an Episcopal priest, remains a member of the historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, PA, as she is canonically resident in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania. Founded in 1792, it is the first Episcopal church in the U.S. founded by and for African Americans. She is a former member of the Dorshei Derekh Reconstructionist Minyan of the Germantown Jewish Centre, in Philadelphia. She remains actively engaged in inter-religious work and is particularly interested in how Jews and Christians interpret the texts they hold in common. She is also licensed in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Dr. Gafney is a former US Army Reserve chaplain who served the Thompson Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church as pastor before joining the Episcopal Church.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Depth. The Rev. Dr. has written profound works that should be treasured. In addition to Womanist Midrash, Dr. Gafney is the author of Daughters of Miriam, a study of women prophets in and around ancient Israel. She also penned book 38 of the Wisdom Commentary Series on Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah. Dr. G’s approach to teaching the Hebrew Scriptures includes emphasizing archaeology, comparative ancient Near Eastern literature, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Other courses she has created include: Suffering in Job and the Holocaust, Introductions to Rabbinic Literature and the Dead Seas Scrolls, Exodus in African and African American Exegesis, The Bible in the Public Square, The Bible and Black Lives Matter, Heroines, Harlots and Handmaids: the Women of the Hebrew Scriptures with sections on “Cosmic Herstory,” “Carnal Knowledge” and “Postcolonial Musings.” Prophetic Constructions is a course that explores prophets who do not have canonical books attributed to them, including better-known prophets such as Miriam and Nathan, Elijah and Elisha, along with lesser-known prophets such as the woman with whom Isaiah fathered a child. 1 14
â€œ Feminism is diverse and comes in many forms. Feminists broadly look at questions of gender, authority, and power. White feminism has broadly failed to move beyond that. Womanism looks at all those things and is intersectional. Intersectionality is not just about multiple identities or demographics; itâ€™s about the way the resulting oppressions overlap and combine and compound. So womanists are always also looking at race, class, and gender together at a minimum and, more often than not, looking at sexualities and embodiment, ability and disability, immigration status and a whole host of other factors, depending on the interest and specialty of the particular scholar.â€? W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : www.wilgafney.com @WilGafney
Dante Stewart “I have come to see that theological reflection often begins at the place of tears and pain. It is in this place that black people have had to struggle. It is here that we have had the audacity to survive, to sing. And we in America today can’t understand this song without understanding the brilliance of black theology. I wouldn’t be able to make it in this cruel world without it.”. 1 WHO THEY ARE: Dante Stewart is a husband and father who currently resides in Augusta, GA. Dante is a very gifted and engaging writer, speaker and thought leader. After receiving a BA in Sociology from Clemson, Dante has moved on to working on a Master of Arts in Religion from Reformed Theological Seminary. He has been featured in Christianity Today, The Witness (a Black Christian collective) and many other publications.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Humility. Dante contributes empowering and equipping material for the church in the areas of black religion and theology, history, writing and ministry. He doesn’t keep it in the classroom or behind a desk, either. Dante serves as a mentor to young leaders in his local area. His written works, public speaking, and social media engagement have provided a much- needed, refreshing perspective for the Black community. We are calling it early: Dante Stewart is Black History in the making.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : www.dantecstewart.com @stewartdantec Prophesy Hope!: An Advent Reflection on Hope, Peace, Love, and Freedom by Dante Stewart
e c n a h C the r e pp a R “I don’t make songs for free, I make ’em for freedom Don’t believe in kings, believe in the Kingdom.” WHO THEY ARE: Chancelor Bennett is a Chicago-born husband and father of two. He popped onto the music scene following the release of several highly acclaimed mixtapes - 10 Day, Acid Rap and Coloring Book - and just released his first full-length album, The Big Day. Chance’s music has been described as colorful and creative, and has paved the way for happy rappers and Black joy in the rap music genre.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Style. Chance is a proud Christian who uses his faith as a compass to fuel his music and activism in Chicago. He has had the ability to be bold about his faith as well as be respected in the industry as a true artist and songwriter. He frequently uses gospel music and choirs to highlight the importance of his faith and the influence of his grandmother. Chance has created a lane in which artists no longer feel the dichotomy between artistry and faithfulness.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : www.chanceraps.com
Liberation Theology B Y TA M I C E N . S P E N C E R
Latinx philosophers and theologians developed Liberation Theology in the 1950s and 60’s. The most prominent figures of this movement include Jon Sobrino, Leonardo Boff, Juan Luis Segundo, and Gustavo Gutiérrez. It was not until the 1970s that evangelical leaders such as Orlando Costas, René Padilla, and Samuel Escobar popularized the term in the US. Liberation Theology weaves Christian theology, ethics, social analysis, and critique into one ideology. Liberation Theology’s gift is the lens it offers to interpret the teachings of Jesus and the commands for those who follow him from the perspective of the poor and disadvantaged. Liberation Theology is almost always involved and engaged in the struggle for civil and human rights, which is why it so quickly found a home in the Black Community within the American Christian context. Black Liberation Theology thus deals with the same issues as those of the Latinx Christian world, but in a way that was contextualized for the plight of Black peoples. James Cone was the father of Black Liberation Theology and helped usher in this new way of thinking in the landscape of American Christianity. Black Liberation Theology focuses on Christianity’s relevance to civil rights, Black Power, and Black Consciousness. Arguably the most profound contribution Black Liberation Theology has made is the revelation that all theology is contextual – even systematic theology. It is essential to define theology at this point—wrong definitions of this word have caused much harm and division within the body of Christ. Theology is God-talk. It is what we do with the Bible. Theology is not the Bible. Put another way, theology refers to how we integrate and apply Scripture in our lives. For example, studying the way a particular passage of Scripture applies to our way of doing life is called exegetical theology. Considering the rational connections of biblical information is known as systematic theology. When a person focuses on studying the historical narratives in Scripture, they are engaging in biblical theology. Without a doubt, the aforementioned are the most common ways of doing theology, but they are not, by any means, the only way. Understanding that truth will help us appreciate - as opposed to react negatively to - new ways of thinking about how we assimilate, ascertain, and apply the richness found in the Bible. For instance, Dr. Carl Ellis, assistant professor of practical theology at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, and the associate pastor for cultural apologetics at New City Fellowship, has aptly identified a way of doing theology that, in my opinion, is most prominent in 18
the Black community; he calls it precedental theology. Precedental theology is the application of the basic patterns of the biblical life situations to the lives of individuals and communities. Theology is a dynamic and rewarding study, but divorced from diversity, humility, and sobriety it can be menacing. When theology happens within a homogenous environment, it produces narrow-minded conclusions, and when those narrowminded conclusions become synonymous with orthodoxy, entangled with power, and institutionally enforcedâ€”counter theologies concerning survival, liberation, and uplift are inevitable.
Jemar T isby “ What I want to see are more Christians becoming actively anti-racist. That means directly confronting individuals and institutions that put people of color at a disadvantage.” WHO THEY ARE: Jemar Tisby is a husband, father, writer, historian, and speaker. He is originally from Chicago and attended the University of Notre Dame for undergrad and obtained an MDiv from Reformed Theological Seminary in Florida. He is also working on his PhD in History at the University of Mississippi. He has just launched The Witness Foundation, which seeks to promote the spiritual and material flourishing of Black people by funding the work of Black Christian ministries. The Witness Foundation is working toward a day when all Black Christians will have the financial resources they need to fuel their God-given vision for Black uplift.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Presidential. Jemar serves as the founder of The Witness Foundation and president of The Witness, a Black Christian collective. He co-hosts Pass the Mic podcast, hosts Footnotes podcast, and has written the critically acclaimed book The Color of Compromise. This book is a timely narrative of how people of faith past and present - worked against racial injustice. The book also provides a call to urgent action by all Christians in response to ongoing injustice. Jemar’s work has been instrumental in providing historical context for a lot of issues related to Christianity and Black people in the US.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : jemartisby.com @JemarTisby thewitnessfoundation.co The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby 20
d u a r y Ga e r o m l Wi " That is a question that I have pondered for many years as one who has been active in the movement for cultural identity as African-American Christians. I have often wondered whether we had come to a point where we had so exaggerated our ethnic identity as Black people that we no longer had room for reconciling with other ethnic groups and making ourselves part of the totality of humankind. I donâ€™t think we have come to that place yet, but there is that danger." WHO THEY ARE: Gayraud S. Wilmore was called the Presbyterian prophet of Black power. He was born in 1921 in the slums of Philadelphia. Dr. Wilmore was drafted into the Army during World War II, and he served in the all-Black 92nd Infantry in Italy. Dr. Wilmore is undoubtedly one of the most influential theologians in the field of Black Theology. His articulation of the tension of passion and practicality in Christian activism remains relevant for us today.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Mighty. Wilmore saw a clear correlation between the demands and grievances of Black power and the provisions for justice and equity called for in scripture. He was able to synthesize a love for the Church and the word of God with a civically and socially engaged ethic of racial equality and justice.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : Black Religion and Black Radicalism: An Interpretation of the Religious History of African Americans by Gayraud S. Wilmore 21
â€œI was on a mission to transform self-loathing Negro Christians into Black-loving revolutionary disciples of the Black Christ.â€? WHO THEY ARE: Rev. Dr. James Cone (1938-2018) was a prolific theologian who served Black peoples in the church and academy. Dr. Cone received degrees from Philander Smith College, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and Northwestern University. Throughout his life and academic career, Cone struggled against oppressive racism and articulated the Gospel in ways readily received by the marginalized and the hurting. Cone has written many essays and books expounding on society and the Bible. His magnum opus was The Cross and the Lynching Tree, for which he won the illustrious Grawemeyer Award. The Rev. Dr. was an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a full professor at Union Theological Seminary.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Brilliant. He is widely viewed as the founder and advocate for Black liberation theology. In his day and beyond, he sought to reconcile the Bible, God, and the Christian faith with the oppressed. He took inspiration from both Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. by calling out toxic forms of Christianity. His theological study and rigor was a testament to many.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : The Cross and the Lynching Tree and A Black Theology of Liberation by James Cone
e c n i V . Dr Bantu
“After the Lord called me to ministry as a teenager, he gave me the opportunity to leave my neighborhood and study at various schools. My deepest passion now is to make the resources of the theological academy available to my community.” WHO THEY ARE: Dr. Vince Bantu is the assistant Professor of Church History and Black Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. Dr. Bantu has a variety of degrees from institutions such as Wheaton, Princeton, Gordon-Conwell, and the Catholic University of America. Bantu taught in various capacities at a number of colleges and institutions, including Nyack College, New York Theological Seminary, North Park Theological Seminary, the Center for Early African Christianity, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Covenant Theological Seminary. Additionally, he has years of pastoral experience in African American, Asian American, and Hispanic churches, as well as extensive involvement in multicultural urban communities.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Woke. Dr. Bantu is bringing a fresh look at the strength of the presence of the gospel in Africa. Most often conversations around the African expression of the gospel in Church History is centered in the North African region, but Dr. Bantu has done extensive work on showing how the gospel made its way down into some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. He has two forthcoming books: “Gospel Haymanot: A Constructive Theology and Critical Reflection on African and Diasporic Christianity and A Multitude of All Peoples: Engaging Ancient Christianity’s Global Identity.”
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : @bantu_huSTLe
“Identity is foundational for agency, we got to know who we are, if we don’t know who self is, how can we be true to self?” WHO THEY ARE: Katie Geneva Cannon (1950-2018) was the first Black woman to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She grew up in North Carolina during Jim Crow and loved the Scriptures from an early age. Her childhood formation would lead to her becoming an iconic womanist theologian and womanist ethicist.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Grace. Common sense and self-love are the banner over Rev. Dr. Cannon’s contribution to theology. For her, there is no truth in a theology that allows for the abuse of self. Her call was to let go of a theology that stomps out the personhood and calls you to consent to your own abuse. Rev. Dr. Cannon gives us an orthopraxis that makes room for our guttural intuition while maintaining a high view of the call to discipleship.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : https://vimeo.com/276246157 The New York Times Obituary for Katie G. Cannon
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Fred rth o w es l tt u h S WHO THEY ARE: Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth (1922 - 2011) was one of the most ardent and relentless figures of the civil rights movement and his devotion to Christ reads like a narration from the Hall of Faith in the book of Hebrews. In 1956, Shuttlesworth’s house was blown up by sixteen sticks of Ku Klux Klan dynamite. Shuttlesworth and his friend were blown into the basement yet were completely unharmed. The next day, committed to keeping his word, he led a civil rights rally. The next year he was badly beaten by police for trying to enroll his daughter in an all-white school, and that same year he went on to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and Bayard Rustin. He organized the Freedom Rides and was even hospitalized in 1963 as a result of being attacked by Sheriff Bull Connor’s water cannons during a nonviolent demonstration. Although he is one of the lesser known members of the SCLC, he was instrumental in its formation.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Unwavering. Fred Shuttlesworth is a G. He went toe-to-toe with the famous “Bull” Connor, who promised voters that he would personally stop integrationists like Shuttlesworth. These men fought for six years—two symbolic and physical embodiments of the forces pulling the South apart in the era of Massive Resistance. Not many people talk about Rev. Shuttlesworth but his life and work was a beautiful combination of the non-violent Civil Rights Movement and the successive militant Black power movement.
Tony Warner “Evangelicals have a memory problem. They hated Dr. King while he was alive. Spoke out against, would not let him come to their conferences, stayed away from the civil rights movement. What happened was he was killed and then they adopted him. They didn’t change. They just realized they failed.” WHO THEY ARE: After Tom Skinner’s 1970 keynote, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship began to seriously consider doing work that was focused on Black students. Tony and Veronica Warner were recruited from Brooklyn College to work with InterVarsity at the Atlanta University Center. Tony was one of only three Black staff working for the first time in Intervarsity. In that same year, Black staff formed the Black Staff Fellowship, and it became a key group for multiethnic growth and advocacy within IVCF.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Steadfastness. Tony Warner has become affectionately known as “Bishop” to his Intervarsity Christian Fellowship colleagues and been in full-time ministry for over 40 years now, navigating the ins and outs of white evangelicalism while holding onto a vibrant hope-filled faith. Today, Tony is still tending to the needs of Black staff and students in Atlanta. His vision for reclaiming the words “evangelicalism” and “holistic discipleship” will be foundational to all campus ministry leaders of color who follow.
The Civil Rights Movement B Y TA M I C E N . S P E N C E R
It's hard to pinpoint when the Civil Rights Movement began. Some say it was around the rape of Recy Taylor, other's the slaughter of Emmet Till, still others argue that it started when a bomb explosion killed four little girls: Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley. The bomb was planted to detonate during their Sunday School class at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. We can safely place the movement within the years 1954 and 1968. Still, it is vital to recognize the fact that the campaign had a snowball effect in the Black Community as well as in the Nation. It was anything but a sudden phenomenon. While it may be difficult to mark the definite beginning of the CRM, one thing is for sure; this movement is arguably the most important in all of Black History. In 1865, as the Civil War came to an end, news of Slavery's abolition began to circulate the country. Although the Emancipation Proclamation sounded good, it would be a long time before Africans in America began to experience any semblance of freedom. Blacks were repeatedly terrorized and discouraged from taking part in the glories of citizenship through violence and intimidation, most notably in the South. In 1896, segregation was made into law by the Supreme Court, and the judicial system set the foundation of what became known as Jim Crow laws. These laws persisted well into the 1900s and aided in the development of the Ku Klux Klan. In response to the terror of lynching, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples (NAACP) was formed and became the critical organization to the lead the charge of desegregation by filing a class action suit, known as Brown vs. Board of Education. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the NAACP, prompting the impetus for more and more public resistance to racism and the denial of equal rights for black Americans. The Civil Rights movement shed light on the existence of Black folks like no other movement because it used the media like a mirror with which to reveal American hypocrisy. For instance, the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott which was fueled by the protest of Rosa Parks to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus line, and the 1957 televised ordeal of 9 high schoolers trying to gain entrance into their Little Rock classrooms (a feat which proved to be so difficult and dangerous that it required governmental intervention and the National Guard to pull off) gained national attention. There were repeated images of black youth being burned with cigarettes, spit on and doused with milkshakes, salt and ketchup while attempted 27
to eat at Woolworth's lunch counter. Marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge turned into a regular beat down of hundreds of peaceful protesters later to be known as Bloody Sunday and busses of white and black college students being bomb during the freedom rides and freedom summer. By using the media, articulation, and song, the Civil Right's Movement procured a significant amount of advancement in the realm of forcing America to be true to what she said on paper and recognize the rights of Black people. This resilience and subversive action would forge the path for the next generation of freedom fighters. The Civil Rights Movement was headed up and led by the Church, and an extreme tenacity and love marked it. This love displayed itself in bold, nonviolent, direct actionâ€”setting it apart from any other movement like it in Black History. The Speeches and proclamation, songs and images, legislation, and tragedy come together to form the ingredients to the necessary, terrible, and beautiful movement in Black History we've come to know as the Civil Rights Movement.
e i k c Ja y r r e P l l i H “Have you considered that there will be people in heaven that don’t speak English? Or did you think that heaven would be like your small group?” WHO THEY ARE: Jackie Hill was born in St. Louis in 1989. She grew up in church, but at a young age her father left and she experienced abuse that would cause her to walk away from the church. She popped on the scene in 2014 with a staggering spoken word piece called “My Life As A Stud” that told the tale of her conversion to Christianity and her excruciating exodus from a lesbian relationship. She rose to prominence quickly. She began traveling in the popular poetry collective, P4CM. She has been featured on high-profile blogs and has signed to top Christian hip-hop record labels. She met her husband Preston Perry while traveling with P4CM and they have two beautiful young girls, Eden and Autumn.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Prolific. Whether you agree with Perry’s stance on sexuality or not, she has a significant place in our Black and Christian culture. Her ability to tell stories and craft words is unparalleled in contemporary Christian poetry and spoken word. She has contributed a wealth of literary work in a very short amount of time and will undoubtedly be pointed to as an important figure in Black Christian history.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : @jackiehillperry @jackiehillperry
Lecrae “If you really wanna be a rebel , read your Bible.” WHO THEY ARE: Lecrae Devaughn Moore is a Christian rapper and recording artist hailing from Houston, Texas. After a troubled past, Lecrae became a Christian and later helped Ben Washer to establish Reach Records, an independent recording label.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Boldness. Lecrae’s music has helped to shape Christian youth throughout the past decade. He has an emphasis on telling not just his own story, but creating music that is accessible for the masses. In recent years his work has reached a breakthrough with mainstream media.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : www.lecrae.com @lecrae @lecrae
e n n o Yv ji Or “Jesus and I roll tight.” WHO THEY ARE: Unashamed and beautiful, Yvonne Orji burst onto the scene and into our hearts as Molly Carter on HBO’s hit dramedy Insecure. Perhaps the most noticeable things about Yvonne are her love for Jesus, Jollof and Jokes. As one of the four main stars of the cast, Orji holds her own as the main character and creator of the show, Issa’s A1 since day one. She moved to America from Nigeria at six years old and in college developed a personal relationship with Jesus who went on to speak audibly to her about doing comedy.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Royalty. We chose Yvonne Orji as one of our dope believers of Black history’s present because of the way she demonstrates faithfulness to God and excellence in craft. She is a phenomenal actress and has been unafraid to be open about her devotion to God while also making up 25% of the Fantastic Four who make the show come to life. Yvonne will go down as a woman who paved the way for Black believers who hold the line in their conviction, while raising the bar in their craft and industry.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : HBO’s Insecure #JesusandJollof podcast @YvonneOrji @yvonneorji
George Liele “The Christianity practiced by Liele was not limited to one nation, colony, or ethnic group but was a faith found and spread through interaction with colonists and national leaders in the Americas and England. In turn, this broad vision of Christianity shaped and spread a variety of Christian experience that became widespread and influential in Black, white, and integrated congregations in Georgia, South Carolina, Jamaica, Nova Scotia, Sierra Leone, and beyond.” - Author, David Shannon WHO THEY ARE: George Liele is the first American missionary. He preceded Adonirum Judson by 30 years when he left for Jamaica as a Protestant preacher in the 1700s. He was often jailed for preaching to the slaves in Jamaica and never received any payment for his ministry work.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Pioneer. George Liele’s work in Jamaica had an undeniable impact on the nation as well as the missionary movement. He was able to baptize hundreds of people and establish a church community.
a n e r Ja Lee “ For as unseemly as it may appear now-a-days for a woman to preach, it should be remembered that nothing is impossible with God. And why should it be thought impossible, heterodox, or improper for a woman to preach? seeing the Saviour died for the woman as well as for the man.” WHO THEY ARE: Jarena Lee converted to Chrisitanity while hearing a sermon preached by Richard Allen, the founder of the AME church in Philadelphia. She felt God call her to ministry as a preacher in 1807. About ten years later, after being repeatedly denied the opportunity to use her gifts (due to the fact that she was a woman), Lee took over the message of a struggling guest preacher who had messed up so badly during his sermon that he stopped altogether. After hearing Jarena Lee’s sermon, the church leaders, including Allen, gave her more opportunities to use her gift. Jerena Lee went on to join the abolitionist movement, traveled 2,325 miles doing missionary work, delivered 178 sermons and even wrote her own autobiography!
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Fiery. The gift and the call of God are irrevocable. This dope believer of Black history’s past is a stark example of what it means to have confidence in your gift and in God’s ability to make a way for it. Her discipleship led her to break rules of tradition and oppression. In so doing, she paved the way for Black women in the field of preaching.
Ava Du Vern ay WHO THEY ARE: Ava DuVernay was the first Black woman to win the Directing award in 2012 at the Sundance Film Festival. She was also the first Black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director, as well as the first Black female director to have her film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. In 2017, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for her film 13th. She was born August 24, 1972 and she is the poster child for Black Girl Magic. Her social consciousness and her artistic capability are a gift not only to Black community but to the world. We are calling it early, Ms. DuVernay is gonna go down in Black history.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Visionary. Avaâ€™s films focus on the dehumanization of Black people and the Black body in the media and in the justice system. She uses the power of storytelling and the strength of cinematic imagery to speak truth to power. Ava DuVernayâ€™s heart for justice shines through the screen and gives the world an opportunity to peer into the difficult truths of our society, but not without giving a glimpse at the beauty and the spirit of those she captures on film. In that way, she stands as a prophetic and revolutionary for the culture.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : @ava @ava Films: Selma A Wrinkle in Time
TV: When They See Us Queen Sugar The Red Line
“ I’m interested in the lives of Black folk as the subject. Not the predicate, not the tangent. These stories deserve to be told — not as sociology, not as spectacle, not as a singular event that happens every so often — but regularly and purposefully as truth and as art on an ongoing basis.”
d r a w Ho an m ur h T “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” WHO THEY ARE: Howard Washington Thurman was born in 1899. He was an African American author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader. He grew up in Daytona, Florida and was raised by his grandmother, a former slave. As a prominent religious figure, he played a leading role in many social justice movements and organizations of the twentieth century. He was one of the principal architects of the modern, nonviolent civil rights movement and a key mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He died in 1981.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Incarnation. Howard Thurman’s love for Scripture started when he was young, due to the fact that his grandmother couldn’t read. He was often called upon to read the Bible out loud to her. During these exchanges he would learn about the wickedness of slavery, but also of the slaves’ deep religious faith. Later on he would channel these lessons into creating profound discourse related to the transformative potential of African American Christianity. His book Jesus and the Disinherited is a matchless work that interprets the teachings of Jesus through the experience of the oppressed and discusses nonviolent responses to oppression.
Black Power Movement B Y TA M I C E N . S P E N C E R
“ You can jail a revolutionary, but you can’t jail a revolution.” - Fred Hampton The Black Power movement essentially picked up where the Civil Rights Movement left off. Dr. King and Malcom X’s assassinations fueled the desire of Black Americans to become more active and even aggressive in protecting Black lives. Many Black Americans were frustrated that the Civil Rights Movement had fallen short in fully uplifting, protecting, and giving equal status to Black people. So much so that Stokely Carmichael and Willie Ricks famously chanted “Black Power ‘’ in a speech that was seen across the nation. These frustrations gave way to the Black Power Movement, a new way to advocate for Black lives. The Movement’s leaders founded an array of institutions - including schools, food co-ops, bookstores - as practical means to overcome the severe inequalities within Black neighborhoods. The Movement emphasized socioeconomic disparities affecting Black people who’d participated in the Great Migration from the South. It more acutely called folks to embrace Black identity and racial justice. Two men named Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton embraced the Black Power ideology strongly and decided to apply the ideology in their neighborhood in Oakland, California. They believed their community was over-policed and under-protected. Out of self-defense, they established the Black Panther Party (BPP). The Panthers monitored their city blocks and recited the law as police attempted to make unjust arrests. The Panthers used arms to police the police. These armed patrols by the Black Panthers became popular in 1967 when they brought loaded firearms into the California State Assembly. They were protesting laws that would make carrying firearms illegal. Six of the Panthers were arrested, which, ironically, catapulted their movement onto the world stage. In May of that same year, the Panthers released their Ten Point Program, which listed the following demands: 1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black Community. 2. We want full employment for our people.
3. We want an end to the robbery by the white men of our Black Community. (later changed to “we want an end to the robbery by the capitalists of our Black and oppressed communities.”) 4. We want decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings. 5. We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present day society. 6. We want all Black men to be exempt from military service. 7. We want an immediate end to POLICE BRUTALITY and MURDER of Black people. 8. We want freedom for all Black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails. 9. We want all Black people when brought to trial to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their Black communities, as defined by the Constitution of the United States. 10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace. The demands of the Ten Point Program would be the seedbed for the creation of other political and cultural institutions. By 1968, the BPP had a presence in more than 20 American cities; by 1969 their membership was over 10,000 and their newspaper, “The Black Panther,” had a readership of over 250,000 people (edited by Eldridge Cleaver). In addition, there was a growing national demand for Black history courses, a greater embrace of African culture and religion, and an increase in Black philosophy and Intellectualism. These developments landed Cleaver, Newton and Seale on the FBI most-wanted list, next to another prominent figure in the movement: Angela Davis. Davis was not a Black Panther, but she, more than any other non-Panther, became an icon of Black power. Other prominent women in the Black Power Movement were Assata Shakur, Kathleen Cleaver, and Elaine Brown.
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“ The mission is to bring Christ to the culture.” WHO THEY ARE: Kirk Franklin was raised in Fort Worth, Texas, by his Aunt Gertrude, a deeply religious woman who maintained a strict Baptist household. When he was four years old, his aunt paid for his piano lessons by collecting aluminum cans. At age 11, he was leading the adult choir (Mt. Rose Baptist Church). Kirk, like many of us, went through a period of teenage rebellion, during which a close friend of his was accidentally shot and killed. This would be the wake-up call that ushered Kirk back toward being more involved in his church. In 1993 his album “Kirk Franklin and the Family” went platinum setting him apart as a force to be reckoned with.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Innovative. Kirk Franklin will go down in Black history as a believer who was able to combine gospel with previously ousted genres like Hip Hop and R&B. Kirk’s life and ministry are an example of what it means to love God and love others. He proves that God is and desires to be accessible. There are very few gospel artists who are as respected in the music industry across the board as Kirk Franklin, so we are calling it early. Kirk will most definitely go down as one of the GOATs in Black History.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : @kirkfranklin @kirkfranklin Albums:
Kirk Franklin Presents 1NC
The Fight of My Life
Long, Live, Love
God’s Property from Kirk Franklin’s Losing My Religion Nu Nation The Nu Nation Project Hello Fear The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin Hero
Kirk Franklin and the Family
Kirk Franklin Presents: Songs for the Storm Vol. 1
Kirk Franklin & the Family Christmas
Whatcha Lookin’ 4 39
Jo Saxton “ You have one body, and your leadership lives in it.” WHO THEY ARE: Jo Saxton was born to Nigerian parents and raised in London, England, and having worked in both the UK and US, Jo brings a multi-cultural and international perspective to leadership. Jo is the founder of the Ezer Collective, an initiative that equips women in leadership to leverage their skills and identify and own their unique leadership identity and voice. Jo also co-hosts the popular podcast Lead Stories: Tales of Leadership in Life with Steph O’Brien. A sought-after speaker, Jo has spoken to colleges/universities, churches, national conferences and companies.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Empowerment. Jo Saxton helps leaders confront their past, break through stifling perceptions, and live with courage and purpose. She is always championing other women in leadership who face ‘all the things’ that go with it. She is courageous and funny, wise and practical and she is without a doubt making history as a trailblazer. Often ministry leadership opportunities are few and far between, but Jo is a woman who, like Christ, delights to see others flourish in their gifting and who leverages her clout for the sake of others. Black History is happening wherever she goes.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : www.josaxton.com @josaxton
Tom r e n n Ski “Make no bones about it: the difficulty in coming to grips with the Evangelical message of Jesus Christ in the Black community is the fact that most Evangelicals in this country who say that Christ is the answer will also go back to their suburban communities and vote for law-and-order candidates who will keep the system the way it is.”. WHO THEY ARE: Tom Skinner was known as “The Prophet out of Harlem.” His dad was a Baptist preacher and he grew up during the revolutionary times of the 1960’s and 70’s. Tom Skinner became a Christian and subsequently one of the most prolific Evangelicals of his time. He is best known for a 1970 keynote address he gave at the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Urbana ‘70 Student Missions Conference. This speech would catapult him into the annals of Black Evangelical history, making him a highly trusted prophetic voice among Black Evangelicals even to this day.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Revolutionary. In word and deed, Tom Skinner called for a radical, just Christianity that set people free both spiritually and physically. He combined the toughness it took to survive Harlem’s 1970’s unjust living conditions with the kindness and humility that comes from Christ’s redemption and liberation to craft a way forward for those who desired to be justice-oriented, Black and free within Evangelicalism.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvKQx4ycTmA
Bryan A Stevens . on “ We have to get the country to confront the fact that we acted out of fear and anger, we did some horrible things. And now we have to recover, we have to repair the damage that we did.” WHO THEY ARE: Bryan A. Stevenson is an American lawyer, social justice activist, founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a clinical professor at New York University School of Law. Born in Delaware in 1959, Bryan Stevenson grew up in a poor, rural community that taught him more than any person would ever want to know about the economic disparity facing the poor that did not seem to affect the rich. He entered law school with no clear idea of what kind of law he wanted to practice – or even if he wanted to practice law at all – but going to Georgia to work with the Southern Prisoners Defense Committee (now the Southern Center for Human Rights) exposed him to people desperately needing legal assistance and whose cases revealed a stark bias against the poor and people of color. His book Just Mercy was developed into a film starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, which tells the story of Walter McMillian, a Black Alabama man who was sentenced to death for the 1986 murder of an 18-year-old white woman. He was one of Stevenson’s first clients and was exonerated in 1993.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Justice. Bryan Stevenson has dedicated his entire career to helping the poor, the marginalized, incarcerated, and condemned. This is a man whose entire life embodies the answer posed by Micah 6:8: “What does the Lord require of you / But to do justly,To love mercy,/And to walk humbly with your God?” We are calling it now, Bryan Stevenson will go down in Black history having made a tremendous impact on the American penal system and the push for restorative justice.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : @eji_org 42
a n e t is r h C land e v e l C “I don’t tend to think literally about the Divine. I think metaphor is all we have, and that is mysteriously plenty.” WHO THEY ARE: Dr. Cleveland holds a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara as well as an honorary doctorate from the Virginia Theological Seminary. She is a social psychologist, public theologian, author, and activist. She is the founder and director of the recently-launched Center for Justice + Renewal, a nonprofit dedicated to helping justice advocates sharpen their understanding of the social realities that maintain injustice while also stimulating the soul’s enormous capacity to resist and transform those realities. She is committed to leading both in scholarly settings and in the public square.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Invitation. With kindness and grace, feistiness and truth, Dr. Cleveland integrates psychology, theology, and art to stimulate our spiritual imaginations. An award-winning researcher and author, Christena has held faculty positions at several institutions of higher education — most recently at Duke University’s Divinity School, where she led a research team investigating self-compassion as a buffer to racial stress. She is currently working on her third book which examines the relationship among race, gender, and cultural perceptions of the Divine.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : www.christenacleveland.com @cscleve @christenacleveland 43
Barack Obama “ We are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others, but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.” WHO THEY ARE: Barack Obama was the 44th president of the United States and the first African American commander-in-chief. He served two terms, in 2008 and 2012. The son of parents from Kenya and Kansas, Obama was born and raised in Hawaii. He graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review. After serving on the Illinois State Senate, he was elected a U.S. senator representing Illinois in 2004. He and his wife Michelle Obama have two daughters, Malia and Sasha.
W H Y YO U S H O U L D CA R E : In a word: Swag. Besides all that swag, whether it is singing “Amazing Grace,” fist-pumping Michelle or telling corny dad jokes in front of the press, President Obama shines brightly in our nation’s political history. His openness about his faith and his love of family are what contribute to the likeableness. He is a man of great principle, stature and restraint. Not only did he prove that Black folks could become president, he showed us what faith looks like in action from the highest seat in the land.
W H E R E YO U CA N F I N D T H E M : @BarackObama 44
Helpful Tips for Racial Reconciliation BY ROBERT MONSON Over the past few years I have received a question from many white friends and acquaintances that has stirred my heart continually. “As a white person what is it that I can really do that would make an impact upon this nation and its huge racial issues?” This question in its various forms is a beautiful depiction of many hearts all across the nation that truly want to see change in our day and in our time. Many times when discussing issues of race things get very emotional and heated which leads, in my opinion, to jadedness or hopelessness. I don’t claim to be able to have all the answers to the issues that are connected to race and injustice in our nation but here are a few thoughts for my brothers and sisters with like minds. Education: This is a daunting task for everyone and often feels overwhelming. It is the responsibility of every race within our nation to educate themselves on the wide variety of social, economic, and spiritual elements of race and injustice within our nation. There are so many resources that I would say...just start somewhere. Carl Ellis Jr. is a good author that I respect immensely. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I think that is part of a good education as well to read authors with whom you won’t entirely resonate. Handle race with an open hand: When talking about race I think it is important to note that we don’t only speak about it when it comes to racism. The complexities of race cover a vast variety of topics, issues, and information. Often when the word race gets mentioned I see the mood shift usually to anxiety with white people I have spoken to, when I have inquired deeper it seems that many of them think that the conversation will turn ultimately to racism. Racism is important but when studying race and even culture there are many negatives and positives. Hold everything with a questioning and open hand. Surround yourself with people who look different: This is something that I have been grateful for in my life for many years. I love making different types of friends of various ethnicities, backgrounds, religions, and social circles. This is vital to my first point in educating yourself, but also in having a more complete worldview and clear thinking. A variety of people who surround you gives you a helping hand in challenging your preconceived notions and also gives you a vast flavor palette. Often we surround ourselves with people who think like us and who don’t give us any true challenges. 45
Questions: This is related to my last point, but something I have done for years is ask tons of questions to people who are different from me. For example, for years I would ask my white friends what they thought about race, what they thought of Black people, their own family structure, etc. Those conversations were so eye-opening to me and I have gained so many wonderful insights in my quest for understanding and empathy. To have true empathy I must seek to put myself in another person’s shoes and truly feel what they feel. I have asked questions to people of different religions, sexual orientation, etc. These questions have opened the door for true relationships and bridges of understanding. Something I have been focused on recently has been to understand the motives and perspectives of Trump supporters. I have watched many online debates, videos and sat down with conversations with those who voted for President Trump. These conversations, while frustrating at times, have been invaluable and produced lots of understanding and tears shared with people. Don’t be afraid of being awkward or messing up: In the journey to true unity and healing it is inevitable that you will say something awkward or be perceived the wrong way. Don’t be intimidated or allow that to cause you to dry back. Focus and Prayer: For white people/those in a majority culture, race is a novelty that can easily be put down when it is inconvenient. For those like myself who are a minority, the complex issues of race and even racism are not optional. My life in America centers around the color of my skin, my behavior, culture, and what people perceive me to be like. To truly have racial reconciliation it almost takes a daily commitment to incorporate caring about this topic to enact daily change. To me daily prayer is helpful to center the heart not just on Black people but on God’s heart for the fullness of His kingdom to be revealed in and through our different cultures working together to redeem our ugly history with race. Go: Go to places where Black and Brown people are and observe. Make it a point to go to Latinx festivals or concerts that are majority Black. Put yourself in uncomfortable positions. Make a goal to do this monthly. Privilege shared: This is my final tip and, to me, is the hardest. Privilege is an honor and a blessing. We are all born with some type of privilege that someone else does not possess at all. For those born into white families they have access to privilege based on the color of their skin that will never be accessible to me. They can steward this privilege to help others. I am a tall man, often people ask me to get something on higher shelves or to change light bulbs that they can reach. My height is a privilege that many short people don’t have access to. It is true that they could just get a ladder or climb on something to reach the same ending, but how beautiful is the look on someone’s face when I say “Sure, I’ll help you.” One way to use privilege practically is to give money to organizations that are helping underprivileged minorities. Also, within your sphere of influence ask God for ways to cultivate and
support those people who you already know and have a relationship with. (This is made easier because of your adherence to point #3.) I hope these tips were helpful and thought-provoking. I don’t believe myself to be perfect in the arena of understanding but I definitely have a reach in my heart to promote healing and wholeness. I have done my best in life to understand people of different backgrounds and to see God’s divine beauty in the way they were made which includes their race. In this journey of understanding my aim isn’t just to focus on race for the sake of novelty. As I delve deeper into understanding, God’s Gospel becomes richer and more meaningful to me and my passion for His kingdom burns brighter in my heart.
Students of Color Matter & They Will Change the World. The barriers created by unique socioeconomic factors facing students of color on campus are often the same barriers that hinder an openness to faith and discipleship. The face of our society is changing at a rapid pace and there is no place more reflective of this than the university. Ownership of this fact is crucial to our survival as the church because the only way to be relatable in the next generation is to diversify. The work of the kingdom can always be found amongst those in the margins, and here at Sub:Culture we want to be found, wherever God is. To remove these barriers we create print and digital content that speaks gracefully and prophetically to our cultural moment, provides on-ramps for conversation and conciliation and rallies the campus, the church and the community around the needs of those who will eventually lead them. In short, we help campus-centric ministries and organizations effectively and authentically engage students of color on campus. By helping them recognize the unique barriers to faith and graduation these students face and by providing a path to remove them, we feel we are doing our part in the work of redemption, reparation and restoration. For more information about our services please visit our website. Thank you again for purchasing Dope Believers of Black Historyâ€™s Past Present and Future, the first of many revenue generating publications designed to keep Black College Students on a path toward righteousness and well being.
In Christ, Tamice N. Spencer
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