A Black Theology of Liberation

by James H. Cone

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 273

A Black Theology of Liberation is a nonfiction study of the ways in which the African American community has gained strength and support by developing their own form of Christian understanding. As such, there are no distinct characters in the book. However, Cone draws on many contemporary and biblical references to prove his points. Below are several of these examples.

This writing in many ways centers the role of Jesus in the African American community. Dominant white Christianity has painted and pre-determined Jesus to be white. Many Black theologians have theorized that he was likely dark skinned. This possibility has brought new meaning to African Americans and their position in the greater Christian community. In addition, Cone uses Jesus as an example for the ways in which God identifies with and supports the oppressed. Jesus was born Jewish into Roman-occupied territory. His ability to thrive and find a following is highlighted.

Cone considers the ways in which Martin Luther King's theology was at the core of his leadership. His pacifist and nonviolent approach was considered to be very Christian. However, many Black clergy still considered him to be too radical and in a dangerous spotlight. Cone theorizes that MLK was one of the first public faces to show greater America the ways in which black people have come to make the Bible their own.

Cone also writes of the ways in which contention among Black clergy made room for an Islamic emergence in the Black community. While most Christian leaders were non-confrontational and/or silent on the matters of race, Malcolm X provided a new space for Black theology in the Islamic religion.

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