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The Turner-Cone Theology Table

Dedicated to Nathaniel Turner & James H. Cone

Bill Moyers and James Cone (Interview)  /  Mission of the Black Church (James Cone) 

Black Liberation Theology (Defined by James Cone)



Books by James Cone

God of the Oppressed  / A Black Theology of Liberation  / For My People, Black Theology and the Black Church

Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare (1992)  / Black Theology and Black Power

Risks of Faith: The Emergence of a Black Theology of  Liberation, 1968-1998   /  The Spiritual and the Blues: An Interpretation

Black Theology: A Documentary History: Volume Two: 1980-1992  /  My Soul Looks Back

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Dr. Cone is an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He is listed in the Directory of American Scholars, in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Religion, Who’s Who among African Americans, and Who’s Who in the World. He is the author of eleven (11) books and over 150 articles and has lectured at more than 1,000 universities and community organizations throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. He is an active member of numerous professional societies, including the Society for the Study of Black Religion, the American Academy of Religion, and the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT) in the Philippines.

Dr. Cone is best known for his ground-breaking works, Black Theology & Black Power (1969) and A Black Theology of Liberation (1970); he is also the author of the highly acclaimed God of the Oppressed (1975), and of Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare? (1991); all of which works have been translated into nine languages. His most recent publication is Risks of Faith (1999). The 30th Anniversary of the publication of Black Theology & Black Power was celebrated at the University of Chicago Divinity School (April 1998), and a similar event was held for A Black Theology of Liberation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (April 2000) and at the Catholic Theological Society of America (June 2001). His research and teaching are in Christian theology, with special attention to black theology and the theologies of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, as well as twentieth century European-American theologies. His current research focuses on “The Cross and the Lynching Tree,” exploring the relationship between the two theologically. more bio

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About this time I was placed under an overseer, from whom I ran away - and after remaining in the woods thirty days, I returned, to the astonishment of the negroes on the plantation, who thought I had made my escape to some other part of the country, as my father had done before. But the reason of my return was, that the Spirit appeared to me and said I had my wishes directed to the things of this world, and not to the kingdom of Heaven, and that I should return to the service of my earthly master -"For he who knoweth his Master's will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes, and thus have I chastened you." And the negroes found fault, and murmured against me, saying that if they had my sense they would not serve any master in the world.

And about this time I had a vision - and I saw white spirits and black spirits engaged in battle, and the sun was darkened - the thunder rolled in the Heavens, and blood flowed in streams - and I heard a voice saying, "Such is your luck, such you are called to see, and let it come rough or smooth, you must surely bear it." I now withdrew myself as much as my situation would permit, from the intercourse of my fellow servants, for the avowed purpose of serving the Spirit more fully - and it appeared to me, and reminded me of the things it had already shown me, and that it would then reveal to me the knowledge of the elements, the revolution of the planets, the operation of tides, and changes of the seasons. 1831 Confessions

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Bill Moyers and James Cone (Interview)  / A Conversation with James Cone

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Racism: A History, the 2007 BBC 3-part documentary explores the impact of racism on a global scale. It was part of the season of programs on the BBC marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. It's divided into 3 parts.

The first, The Colour of Money . . . Racism: A History [2007]—1/3

Begins the series by assessing the implications of the relationship between Europe, Africa and the Americas in the 15th century. It considers how racist ideas and practices developed in key religious and secular institutions, and how they showed up in writings by European philosophers Aristotle and Immanuel Kant.

The second, Fatal Impact . . . Racism: A History [2007] - 2/3

Examines the idea of scientific racism, an ideology invented during the 19th century that drew on now discredited practices such as phrenology and provided an ideological justification for racism and slavery. The episode shows how these theories ultimately led to eugenics and Nazi racial policies of the master race.

And the 3rd, A Savage Legacy . . .  Racism: A History [2007] - 3/3

Examines the impact of racism in the 20th century. By 1900 European colonial expansion had reached deep into the heart of Africa. Under the rule of King Leopold II, the Belgian Congo was turned into a vast rubber plantation. Men, women and children who failed to gather their latex quotas would have their limbs dismembered. The country became the scene of one of the century's greatest racial genocides, as an estimated 10 million Africans perished under colonial rule.

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Arthur Flowers

     Another Good Loving Blues 

     Another Good Loving Blues Essay 

     De Mojo Blues

      Magical Negro The Root

     Mojo Rising -- 5th Movement 

     Mojo Rising -- Reviews & 1st Movement  

     Rootwork and the Prophetic Impulse    

     Up Against the Wall in Haiti  

The Black Church

     African American Faiths

     African Methodism in the South (Introduction)  (essay)

     Black Catholic History (Baltimore and New York) (essay)

     Black Church (Time essay; commentary)

     Jerusalem Baptist Church

    Josephus Roosevelt Coan, Ph.D. 1902 - 2004

     Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, O.S.P. (bio-sketch)

     The Negro Church by W.E.B. Du Bois

     Pan-Africanism and the Black Church by Cornish Rogers (essay)

     Reverend Dr. Vashti Murphy McKenzie


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I contend that theological language must be paradoxical because of the necessity of affirming two dimensions of reality which appear to be contradictory. For example, my experience of being black-skinned means that I cannot de-emphasize the literal significance of blackness. My people were enslaved, lynched, and ghettoized in the name of God and country because of their color. No amount of theologizing can remove the reality of that experience from my consciousness. And because blacks were dehumanized by white-skinned people who created a cultural style based on black oppression, the literal importance of whiteness has historical referents.

But that is only one aspect of my experience. When I begin to investigate the particular experience of blackness and whiteness in America, I begin to see beyond it. Through my particular experience of blackness, I encounter the symbolic significance of black existence and how that existence is related to god’s revelation in Jesus Christ. In the divine-human encounter, the particular experience of oppression and liberation, as disclosed in black-skinned people, is affirmed as God’s own experience; and through that divine affirmation, I encounter the universal meaning of oppression and liberation that is not limited by skin color. The same is true for the literal and symbolic meaning of whiteness, which has the opposite meaning of blackness. Dialogue on Black Theology

Table (contd.)

The Black Christ

     The Black Christ by Kelly Brown Douglass Review by Keith Johnson

     Black Christ by Arthur Shearly Cripps (poem) 

     The Black Nazarene by Richard Deverall (essay)

     Blacks Worshipping Christ by Kara Breens (essay)

     An Ecumenical Study of the African American Baptists by Paul White (essay)

     God of the Oppressed by James H. Cone

     Prince Emmanuel Charles Edwards (bio-sketch)

     The Second Time Around (poem)

Black & Liberation Theology

     The Black Religious Crisis by Joseph R. Washington, Jr. (essay)

     A Black Theology of Liberation (Twentieth Anniversary Edition) by James H. Cone (book review)

     Contextual Theology by J. Deotis Roberts (essay)

     Dialogue on Black Theology (interview with James Cone)

     God of the Oppressed by James H. Cone  reviewed by Raymond G. Manker

     Howard Thurman

     Interview with Howard Thurman

     Is God a White Racist?: A Preamble to Black Theology by William R. Jones

     Liberation for Social Justice by Julio de Santa Ana

     The Liberation of White Theology by Frederick Herzog (essay)

     The Spiritual and the Blues By James H. Cone

     A Theology of Obligation & Liberation by Rudolph Lewis

     Toward a Feminist Theology by Sheila D. Collins 


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Arizona gov. signs bill targeting ethnic studiesThe measure signed Tuesday prohibits classes that advocate ethnic solidarity, that are designed primarily for students of a particular race or that promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group.The Tucson Unified School District program offers specialized courses in African-American, Mexican-American and Native-American studies that focus on history and literature and include information about the influence of a particular ethnic group. For example, in the Mexican-American Studies program, an American history course explores the role of Hispanics in the Vietnam War, and a literature course emphasizes Latino authors. Horne, a Republican running for attorney general, said the program promotes "ethnic chauvinism" and racial resentment toward whites while segregating students by race. He's been trying to restrict it ever since he learned that Hispanic civil rights activist Dolores Huerta told students in 2006 that "Republicans hate Latinos."YahooNews

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Defining Religion: Religion is a search for meaning when you don't have it in this world. So, while they might have controlled the black people physically and politically and economically, they did not control their spirit. That's why the black churches are very powerful forces in the African American community and always has been. Because religion has been that one place where you have an imagination that no one can control. And so, as long as you know that you are a human being and nobody can take that away from you, then God is that reality in your life that enables you to know that. . . . : Even though you're living under the shadow of the lynching tree. Because religion is a spirit that is not defined by what people can do to your body. They can kill your body, but they can't kill your soul. We were always told that. There is a spirit deep in you that nobody can take away from you because it's a creation that God gave to you. Now, if you know you have a humanity that nobody can take away from you, they may lock you up. They may lynch you. But, they don't win. James Cone Bill Moyers Journal

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Table (contd.)


Book Reviews

     Begrimed and Black by Robert E. Hood (book review)

     Benjamin E. Mays Speaks (book review)

     Give Me This Mountain by C. L. Franklin (book review)

     Manana: Christian Theology from a Hispanic Perspective by Justo L. Gonzalez (book review)

     The Quest for the Cuban Christ  by Miguel A. De La Torre (book review)

Howard Thurman

     Howard Thurman by Jean Burden (essay)

     Interview with Howard Thurman by Mary E. Goodwin

Inside the Caribbean

The Quest for the Cuban Christ 

Table of Contents  Foreword  

Santeria The Beliefs and Rituals  Ajiaco Christianity

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A Conversation with Wilson

Rudy: Topics like church and religion make me uneasy, and especially when one talks about individual beliefs and faith and how well they have been absorbed and lived.  It gives me no pleasure at all in taking up the subject of how blacks actually live out their religion and how the “Black Church” actually operates in our lives. 

Of course, as black women, you probably are much more familiar with those intimate matters than I. I say that only because it is primarily black women who make the numbers in the “Black Church.” I am like most black men at odds with and outside the “Black Church.”

But the role of the black church in liberation struggle is a necessary topic. It needs more poignant reflective thought than it has been given in the last several decades. In my humble view the so-called Black Church is probably one of the most reactionary, perverse institutions within the black community, and have become more so since the deaths of Martin and Malcolm. There was hope when it retained its congregational, community, agrarian oriented aspects. As it manifests itself in urban centers now in the South, North, elsewhere, they are harbors for sycophants, demagogues, and scoundrels—now educated and trained in the best seminaries, and thus loaded down with well-honed dogma and doctrines which they hoist by force upon the people.  Defining Religion, Describing Religious Practice

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Table (contd.)


Jacob and Esau by W.E.B. DuBois (essay)

James Baldwin's Jeremiad [Or Baldwinism Gone Awry] By Albert B. Southwick (essay)

Kirk Byron Jones

The Jazz of Preaching

Joan Martin


     More Than Chains or Toil  A Christian Work Ethic of Enslaved Women


Martin Luther King

     Cardinal Bernardin on Martin Luther King (commentary)

     Edward Kennedy on Martin Luther King (commentary)

     Living Scripture in Community Martin Luther King, Jr.& Malcolm X by George W. Miller (essay)

     Martin Luther King’s Vision  by Kenneth L. Smith and Ira G. Zepp, Jr. (essay)

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Central to Cone’s own interpretation is his conviction that a very evident theme of liberation pervades the spirituals. “So far from being songs of passive resignation, the spirituals are black freedom songs which emphasize black liberation as consistent with divine revelation.” Through the skillful use of illustrations from the spirituals, he convincingly demonstrates that “the theological assumption of black slave religion as expressed in the spirituals was that slavery contradicts God, and he will therefore liberate black people.”

But, Cone adds, the spirituals do not provide a simplistic or escapist solution. Black suffering is faced honestly and realistically in the spirituals; there is no attempt to explain it away or to dismiss it as unimportant. Rather, these songs gave a theological perspective to suffering – as expressed, for example, in the line “I’m so glad that trouble don’t last always.” Cone likens the spirituals’ treatment of the problem of suffering to that of the Old Testament books of Job and Habbakuk. Christian hope, he says, “is a vision and promise for the poor, the sick and the weak.” In this regard he excoriates those white theologians who have promulgated a theology of hope based on “theological abstractions” rather than on the sufferings of the oppressed.  The Spiritual and the Blues

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Ron Walters. The Price of Racial Reconciliation (2008)

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Table (contd.)

Nathaniel Turner

     Biblical Scholars & Theologians on Nathaniel Turner Compiled by Rudolph Lewis (commentary)

     1831 Confessions of Nathaniel Turner edited by Thomas Gray (interview summary)

     Nathaniel Turner: The Bible & Sword by Rudolph Lewis (essay)

     Nathaniel of Southampton or Balaam's Ass by Rudolph Lewis (essay)

Prayers, Sermons,  Spirituals & Dying

     Death and Dying in the African Context By Gerald Onyewuchi Onukwugha (essay)

     Doubting Thomas by C.L. Franklin (sermon)

     A Funeral Sermon Virginia Style (sermon)

     Give God the Glory by Jennifer McGill (sermon)

     Mahalia Jackson

     Making It Through Your Wilderness by Jennifer McGill (sermon)

     Negro Spirituals and American Culture  by Regina Dolan (essay)

     Prayer Tradition of Black People by Harold A. Carter (book review)

     The Spiritual and the Blues by James H. Cone

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To suggest that Thomas Gray created the religious world contained in the “Confessions” is to speak absurdities. We owe much gratitude to Gray and numerous other white men for saving tons of slave literature. The questioning of the authority of this revelatory text is thus a red herring, expressing an unwillingness to accept Turner’s religious perspective. This obtuseness does not in any manner lessen the “Confessions” as the actual words of Nathaniel Turner. It is a document to which he testified in a Southampton court as his truth.

To know Turner then we must look first and foremost at Turner’s own words than what others say about him. Turner’s basic referent was neither William Garrison nor David Walker. The Bible and its testaments were his foundation. As an adult, his mentors were not New England abolitionists, but the Holy Spirit and Christ, persons who possessed much more reality for him than any Boston social reformer. Despite the biblical illiteracy of today’s generation, the Bible story was our story. The scriptures are the grounding of our major cultural roots, far more so than the political ideologies that have gathered together to call themselves “black” or “African.”

Before modern education and the secularization of America, African Americans were a biblical people.  Bible and Sword

Table (contd.)

Related Essays

     African Slavery -- Religion

     Belief and Interfaith Dialogue by John Hick 

     DuBois' Credo or Affirmation of Faith

     Give God the Glory (Jennifer McGill)

     Interfaith Dialogue

     Isaac in Heaven: An Interview by Rudolph Lewis

     Karenga on Malcolm and the Need for Struggle (commentary)

     Liberation for Social Justice

     Life of Black Army Chaplains

     Making It through Your Wilderness  (Jennifer McGill)  

     Marxism Irrelevant? by Aduku Addae

     More African American Special Days

     Nigeria Acquits Woman Sentenced to Stoning Death

     Odunde Celebrates 27th Year (event review)

      Paul E. White Bio

     Philosophy, Religion, and Politics  by Lil Joe (essay on history of religion)

     Pre-Reformation Religious Ideas  


     Sermon on the Mount   

     Seven Last Words of Jesus  

     Soul Pearls Reviews 

     Vashti McKenzie   (Jennifer McGill)  

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Frustration with being regarded as "a marginal voice" often encourages clergy to embrace the language of the modern state. Preachers begin to talk like politicians, and while gaining some credibility as political power brokers, in the process they tend to lose the prophetic edge that they could and should bring to the political debate and to the process of imagining a better society.

This is a temptation to which Dr. King never yielded. He consistently employed theological concepts and language to challenge the modern state to be more just and inclusive. He opined on practical and concrete political matters, but only insofar as they were outgrowths of the theological and ethical principles he espoused.

It is humbling, hopeful, and empowering to consider that preachers, church women, and Sunday school children led a revolution in our lifetime. They marched, prayed, voted, and challenged the nation to, in the words of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., "conform America's political reality to her political rhetoric." They have passed the baton to us.

Robert M. Franklin, "Awesome Music, Great Preaching, and Revolutionary Action: The Mind of Martin Luther King, Jr.," The Princeton Seminary Bulletin, XXIII (2), 2003.

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Reading Africana

Jamaica Upheaval by Lloyd D. McCarthy 

Definition of Negro 1910-1911 (Asa G. Hilliard III)

Parable of Zionism and National Insanity

Toward A Reader's Theatre  / Parable of the Religious Haters 

Bobby Mcferrin's "Beyond Words"  / Imagine A Black Nation

Fifty Years Ago  (Chuck Siler )

Framework for African Students (Biblio) / Charles E. Siler Bio  / Gnarlins '07 

Chuck Siler Response to Katrina  / Holiday Cards

Blue Note—A Story of Modern Jazz

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#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
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#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

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Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin

By John D'Emilio

Bayard Rustin is one of the most important figures in the history of the American civil rights movement. Before Martin Luther King, before Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin was working to bring the cause to the forefront of America's consciousness. A teacher to King, an international apostle of peace, and the organizer of the famous 1963 March on Washington, he brought Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence to America and helped launch the civil rights movement. Nonetheless, Rustin has been largely erased by history, in part because he was an African American homosexual. Acclaimed historian John D'Emilio tells the full and remarkable story of Rustin's intertwined lives: his pioneering and public person and his oblique and stigmatized private self.

It was in the tumultuous 1930s that Bayard Rustin came of age, getting his first lessons in politics through the Communist Party and the unrest of the Great Depression.

A Quaker and a radical pacifist, he went to prison for refusing to serve in World War II, only to suffer a sexual scandal. His mentor, the great pacifist A. J. Muste, wrote to him, "You were capable of making the 'mistake' of thinking that you could be the leader in a the same time that you were a weakling in an extreme degree and engaged in practices for which there was no justification."

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Laying Down the Sword

Why We Can't Ignore the Bible's Violent Verses

By Philip Jenkins

Commands to kill, to commit ethnic cleansing, to institutionalize segregation, to hate and fear other races and religions—all are in the Bible, and all occur with a far greater frequency than in the Qur’an. But fanaticism is no more hard-wired in Christianity than it is in Islam. In Laying Down the Sword, “one of America’s best scholars of religion” (The Economist) explores how religions grow past their bloody origins, and delivers a fearless examination of the most violent verses of the Bible and an urgent call to read them anew in pursuit of a richer, more genuine faith. Christians cannot engage with neighbors and critics of other traditions—nor enjoy the deepest, most mature embodiment of their own faith—until they confront the texts of terror in their heritage. Philip Jenkins identifies the “holy amnesia” that, while allowing scriptural religions to grow and adapt, has demanded a nearly wholesale suppression of the Bible’s most aggressive passages, leaving them dangerously dormant for extremists to revive in times of conflict.

Jenkins lays bare the whole Bible, without compromise or apology, and equips us with tools for reading even the most unsettling texts, from the slaughter of the Canaanites to the alarming rhetoric of the book of Revelation. Teaching Genocide

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Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All

By Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock  market. True wealth has more to do with what's in your heart than what's in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America's shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, "Happy can make you money, but money can't make you happy."

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.

Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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