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Methodologies in African American Theology

Abstract and Keywords

Research on African American theology involves a varied and diverse methodology. Interpretation begins with an examination of religious knowledge that emerges from the historical and social experiences of peoples of black African descent in the United States and ends with a test of the validity of their religious beliefs in social situations endangering their freedom, quality of life, humanity, and survival. This essay examines the research methodology employed in African American theological interpretation, focusing on correlation and the use of symbols and themes that structure racial consciousness. It also considers religious and cultural sources that illuminate insights of black experience, along with contemporary research paradigms for the development of black constructive theology. Moreover, it looks at the views of James H. Cone regarding correlation as a fundamental method of African American theology and reflects on the role of womanist theology in contributing to the vibrancy of African American theology.

Keywords: African American theology, research methodology, religious beliefs, correlation, cultural sources, black experience, research paradigms, black constructive theology, James H. Cone, womanist theology

With respect to methodology, African American theology is quite varied and diverse. Many approaches are taken in order to construct theological interpretations. However, one thing seems to be common—the centrality of African American (or black) experience and acknowledgment that the work of theology consists of the manifold tasks of describing, analyzing, evaluating, explaining, and, when necessary, revising or rejecting religious beliefs. African American theology begins with an examination of religious knowledge that emerges from the historical and social experiences of peoples of black African descent in the United States and ends with a test of the validity of their religious beliefs, restated or amended, in social situations endangering their humanity, freedom, survival, and quality of life. This circle of interpretation is accomplished through correlation and the use of symbols and themes that structure racial consciousness, religious and cultural sources that illuminate insights of black experience, and contemporary research paradigms for the development of black constructive theology.

Correlation

Early in the contemporary black theological movement, James H. Cone identified correlation as a fundamental method of African American theology.1 In following (p. 125) this method, African American theology is constructed by relating the corpus of Christian theology to the black experience. Cone’s A Black Theology of Liberation (1970) weaves an interpretation of black experience into the traditional schema of Christian theology.2 Although in Cone’s early attempts to construct black theology he used the writings of major Christian theologians such as Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Rudolf Bultmann, his correlation of these theologians’ works to black experience yielded interpretations of Christian doctrines radically different from those espoused by these theologians.

Presently, in African American theology, correlation is applied within a complex web of connections between religion and experience. Correlation is not a simple matter in view of there being multiple expressions of African American religion and many conceptions of blackness. The notion that correlation involves the task of relating blackness to the corpus of Christian theology must be modified to include a broader range of intellectual and religious traditions. The religious life of African Americans is not limited to Christianity or Christian thought. While the dominant tradition among African Americans is evangelical Protestant Christianity, African Americans have expressed themselves religiously in a number of ways. Other important religious traditions for correlation to blackness include Roman Catholic and Orthodox conceptions of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, African-derived religions (i.e., Santeria and vodun), eclectic spiritualist traditions, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

Not only must the meaning of religion be expanded to include non-Christian religions, the meaning of religion must encompass secular worldviews and pervasive cultural beliefs. Religion provides orientation, guides for behavior, and a core of symbols and beliefs that is foundational to, of ultimate importance or basic for, explaining and understanding all else in human experience. Modern science, political economy, and political ideology now have the quality of religion in that they present comprehensive views or conceptions of the world, define persons and peoples, and suggest how they should act and what kind of future humankind has to look forward to.

Like religion, blackness is a malleable category. There is not one but many conceptions of blackness. Blackness has never been defined definitively, once and for all times. According to W. E. B. Du Bois, the history of blacks in America is fraught with images that are not always of their making. For several generations of African Americans, their goal has been to reconcile conflicting images into “a better and truer self.”3 Toward defining this better and truer self, blackness may be, and often is, characterized by experiences of oppression, humiliation, discrimination, political disenfranchisement, and economic injustice. When these negative aspects of black people’s experience are of chief concern, African American theology takes on a liberation orientation with the aim of transforming the conditions that adversely affect black people’s lives. However, blackness may also refer to those positive aspects, the “beauty and joy, of African American life that are expressive of deeply held values and mores that enable African Americans’ fulfillment as human beings.”4 A compelling argument for enlarging the concept of blackness is found in Victor Anderson’s (p. 126) Beyond Ontological Blackness: An Essay on African American Religious and Cultural Criticism (1995).5

Correlation is an ongoing process for African American theology. Identity as well as religion are not fixed and therefore are subject to change. As a people change, so will their religion. Blackness is constantly undergoing redefinition and renegotiation. African American religious preferences are capable of shifting. As long as race and religion circumscribe American reality, black theology will continue, and proceed using the method of correlation.

Symbols and Themes

In addition to correlation, the use of symbols and themes is vital for the construction of African American theology. Symbols may be either nonlinguistic (physical objects) or linguistic (words, phrases, and ideas). In either case, symbols focus attention on self, society, and culture. Linguistic symbols are highlighted in this essay. Themes are concepts that, when expressed in propositional form, are presumed true. Themes are foundational propositions for constructing interpretations. Symbols and themes function as “reality detectors,” tools for enabling self-understanding, discernment of meanings in the contexts through which persons live, and a relationship to that which is ultimate and transcendent so that life is never restricted solely to what life happens to be at any given time. Symbols and themes are not mutually exclusive; there is much connection, intersection, and overlap between the two. Though symbols and themes are used and repeated frequently, they are subject to reformulation (modification and renegotiation) as new events and challenges emerge in African American experience, which itself is never static.

In African American religions, there are many symbols. Given the dominance of evangelical Protestant Christianity, there is a pervasiveness of biblical motifs, metaphors drawn from Christian language, and the dogmas of Trinity and Christology in African American communities.6 However, the primary symbols, first identified by Charles H. Long, are God, race, Africa, and freedom. They are “deep symbols,” words of power that constrain, guide, and become a focus of thought and action.7 Freedom functions both as symbol (i.e., that which represents ultimacy and transcendence) and theme (i.e., something claimed to be of great value). Race, as symbol, is now expanded to include emphases on gender and sexuality.

God is a symbol for transcendence and ultimacy.8 Among the questions revolving around God as symbol are these: What or who is the source of my value? To what or whom may I compare myself? Can I be other than what I am? What can (or will) I become?

(p. 127) The meaning of God is not limited to a particular doctrinal system of theism, African or Western. God is the Other. God is the One who is apart from the world. Charles Long describes Africans’ encounter with God as an existential crisis finding resolution in a new locus of value. He says, “To whom does one pray from the bowels of a slave ship? to the gods of Africa? to the gods of the masters of the slave vessels? to the gods of an unknown and foreign land of enslavement? To whom does one pray? From the perspective of religious experience, this was the beginning of African American religion and culture. In the forced silence of oppression, in the half-articulate moans of desperation, in the rebellions against enslavement—from this cataclysm another world emerged.”9 God represents an altogether different reality; God is something, somewhere, or someone other than what is. Belief in God emerges from racial consciousness marked by an awareness of the power and sacredness of life (being itself) that is not restricted by the existing social order.10 While subscribing to traditional Christian theism, African Americans have depicted God as ultimate and the locus of value over against American mores, particularly customs, policies, and laws detrimental to African Americans’ well-being. For example, at the conclusion of Henry McNeal Turner’s detailed analysis of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Civil Rights Act of 1875, he declares faith in God, the One who is ultimate and thus another source of truth and justice.11 For both Maria Stewart and Martin Luther King Jr., God is source of authority and courage in the struggle for freedom and justice.12 In a rather different approach to theistic faith, womanists like Zora Hurston and Alice Walker view God as the power that pervades nature, the unity that underlies as well as the spirit that animates each living thing.13

Race is a symbol for discernment of place. Race is used for fixing social location and for detecting and assessing the processes, historical and social, going into the formation of the world wherein African Americans live. Through the prism of race, the sorts of questions asked include these: Who am I? What is my place in the world? What is the history and experience at which I am the center?

According to Charles Long, African Americans’ sense of place is perceived, for the most part, as an “involuntary presence,” a condition resulting from a history of forced migration and exploitation.14 However, in addition to the idea of involuntary presence, race may refer to color caste, minority status, ancestry, subculture, and group belonging and solidarity. The use of race is clearly beyond discussions about physical characteristics and biological classification.

Africa is a symbol for representation and reflection on origins.15 With Africa as central focus, the sorts of questions asked are these: From where did I come? May I return? Where do I belong? When and where does my history begin? What is my past? What is my cultural heritage?

Africa is both a historical reality and mythological place. It is a historical fact that the ancestors of black Americans came from the African continent. Unfortunately, documented empirical evidence showing the specific geographical areas and ethnic groups from which these persons came is not always available. In this sense, in a (p. 128) vague way, Africa is seen as a point of origin lost in obscurity. Still, the general designation of “African” reminded these persons that they came to the Americas from another place. Their history began before enslavement in the Americas. The extant logs of slave ships chronicle the transport of persons from Africa to the Americas. In addition, the writings of Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa), Venture Smith (Broteer Furro), Phillis Wheatley, and Omar Ibn Said are notable recollections on life in Africa. Even when African American opinion has been mixed about African colonization (and back-to-Africa movements), African Americans have never denied their origins in Africa.16

Africa is not only a place of origins; it is also a place of destiny. In African American folklore, there are numerous stories about persons who, when dreaming or when expressing hopes about their status upon death, have flown back to Africa.17 Far from being artifacts of an age past, these stories, continue to influence the production of black culture. Toni Morrison structures the ending of her popular novel Song of Solomon (1977) using this folktale about those Africans who claimed that they could fly back to Africa.18 Today, African Americans are using more than dreams to get to Africa; they are using airplanes. Since the 1960s, African American travel and tourism to Africa has increased dramatically, becoming a multi-million-dollar industry. During slavery and after emancipation, in colonization and later back-to-Africa movements, Africa was perceived as a natural location for black people to settle. Then as well as now, it was believed that black Americans would find in Africa a sense of belonging, economic opportunity, and meaningful involvement in the evangelization and moral and cultural uplift of the indigenous African population. Since the 1970s, the dramatic increase of African immigrant communities in the United States has contributed as well to African American awareness and appreciation of African religion and culture. African American theology exhibits increasing interest and use of African religion and culture for theological interpretation.

Freedom is symbol of the fulfilled life. When expressed in propositional form, namely in the statement that freedom is something of great (ultimate) value, freedom functions as a theme. The importance of freedom to African Americans is expressed best in the following spiritual:

  • Oh, freedom! Oh, freedom! Oh, freedom all over me!
  • Before I’d be a slave,
  • I’ll be buried in my grave,
  • And go home to my Lord and be free.

The spiritual makes clear that a life without freedom is not worth living. Death is preferable to a life of oppression. Worse than death is the mode of existence marked by bondage, injustice, and nonfulfillment.

Recurring themes, stated propositionally, include these: (1) African American Christianity is an authentic expression of Christianity; (2) African American people (p. 129) are special (i.e., distinct, having qualities not found in other peoples); (3) community (black solidarity) is vital for liberation, survival, and quality of life; and (4) education (literacy and knowledge) is a route to freedom.19 These themes are found in a variety of sources. A dichotomy between “true Christianity” and American Christianity (white religion) and the association of African American Christianity with true Christianity is found in works like David Walker’s Appeal and Frederick Douglass’s Narrative and speeches.20 In Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s speech “Duty to Dependent Races,” she identifies as the problem with American Christianity its impotence against injustice and its not following the example of Jesus Christ.21 In Francis Grimke’s thanksgiving sermon at the close of World War I, he is hopeful that a better form of Christianity, more faithful to the teachings of Jesus, will emerge in America.22 Black inferiority is refuted in Benjamin Banneker’s personal letter to Thomas Jefferson.23 In Maria Stewart’s address to the African-American Female Intelligence Society of Boston (1832), she describes blacks as a special people with a glorious past and potential for great contribution to human civilization.24 The importance of community (black solidarity) for liberation is emphasized in Frederick Douglass’s newspaper, The North Star, where he wrote: “We are one...our cause is one, and...we must help each other, if we should succeed.”25 In essays and speeches by Sarah Mapps Douglass, Maria Stewart, Anna Julia Cooper, Mary Church Terrell, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, education is proclaimed as that which will enable blacks to fill their place in American society.26 Through the above themes and other propositions, African American theology is construed as an alternative to dominant interpretations of Christianity in the United States. In contrast to the dominant forms of Christianity and Christian theology, usually emerging from churches of white Americans, African American theology assigns priority to addressing the suffering of black people, highly values and links freedom with equality and justice, and emphasizes the role of the church in the transformation of society.

Sources and Resources

African American theologians are at a consensus about “black religion” as the subject matter of African American theology. For the most part, black religion has meant the use of black sources, oral and written, or adoption of a perspective that emphasizes African American experience, and the functional capacity of black religious organizations for cultural critique and social change. Since the mid-1970s, through debate initiated by Cecil Cone’s The Identity Crisis in Black Theology (1975),27 the literature in African American theology is enriched greatly by the use of black sources.

(p. 130) Three methodological questions are raised about the treatment of black religion. These questions are the following: What are the sources by which African American religious beliefs are conveyed to the theologian and religion scholar? How are these sources and other resources for theology mediated through and subjected to the norm in African American experience? How are these sources distinguishable from the theological constructions produced by through the use of these sources?

Many sources have been identified as bearers of religious belief. These sources include (There shouldn’t be this break between “include: and “song...”) songs, sermons, ways of reading the Bible, speeches, essays, poems, art, narratives, church and community histories, folktales, institutional practices, and customary ways of behaving.

Besides conveying ideas and beliefs, black sources are methods of reflection on African American experience, and reflection on, even critique and rejection of, religious beliefs and practices. For example, in Langston Hughes’s story of his experience, as a teenager, at a revival service, he both describes and critiques the idea of conversion as salvation.28 Hughes’s narrative conveys important information about religious ritual in African American churches, of the kind he knew, but also shows the inadequacy of the routinized ecstatic experience as authentic personal transformation.

The turn to black sources should not be construed to be, as Victor Anderson claims is the case, a turn to legitimization.29 According to Anderson, legitimization amounts to attempts to make theology appear to be “black” by using black sources but without any rigorous critical scrutiny of these sources. Still the turn to black sources is appropriate for two sets of reasons: acknowledgment of (1) the general but major role of these cultural expressions in religion and (2) the essential role of cultural forms for memory, recall, and introspection. A common form of cultural expression like narrative should not be equated with legitimization because, in African American culture, not all narratives are essentially Christian or support Christian categories and themes.30 Not all narratives are essentially about liberation or have an ethic of liberation.31 Narrative is a fundamental cultural product, which can be said also about other black sources. In systematic theology, experience is the medium for receiving, understanding, and analyzing sources of any kind. Black sources are “markers” and “snapshots” of African American experience.

Black cultural expressions, like African Americans themselves, have not evolved in a vacuum. African Americans are citizens of the Western world. African American theologians have used a wide variety of resources that are not unique to African Americans but are deemed valuable for understanding and illuminating various aspects and insights derived from African American experience. In addition to using various academic disciplines and reliable information sources, African American theologians employ a number of intellectual traditions ranging from common-sense realism to humanism, existentialism, pragmatism, and personalism to process metaphysics.

(p. 131) Freedom (as the penultimate of human fulfillment) is the norm to which sources and resources as well as African American experience generally are subjected. This norm determines which sources and resources will be used and how they will be used for reflection. In African American theology, the norm (freedom) may be grounded in either a Christocentric or a theocentric conception of faith.32 African American humanists would argue that neither form of grounding is necessary in order to justify freedom.33

Paradigms

In African American theology, there are several paradigms that function as research programs, models, perspectives, and theoretical frameworks for constructing African American theology. In contemporary black theology, there are three principal schools of thought: the hermeneutical school, the philosophical school, and human sciences school. These schools of thought are described and examined in Frederick Ware’s Methodologies of Black Theology (2008).

The schools of thought have developed as a result of individual and collaborative work. The black hermeneutical school (BHS), which first emerged in clergy and seminary settings, is devoted to a quest for a “black hermeneutic”—a method of biblical and theological interpretation that recovers and is representationally accurate with respect to the earliest expression of Christian faith and struggles for liberation among African Americans in the United States. Thinkers in the BHS include Katie Cannon, Albert Cleage, Cecil Cone, James Cone, Kelly Brown Douglas, James Evans, Jacquelyn Grant, Dwight Hopkins, Major Jones, Olin Moyd, J. Deotis Roberts, Delores Williams, and Gayraud Wilmore. The BHS has been and continues to be the most prolific and popular of the three schools of academic black theology. The black philosophical school (BPS) was formed by the entry of philosophers of religion into and the use of philosophy in the field of black theology. Thinkers in the BPS include William Jones, Anthony Pinn, Alice Walker, Cornel West, and Henry Young. The human sciences school (HSS) encompasses the kinds of cultural studies of black theology conducted by historians of religion, theologians of culture, sociologists of religion, religious studies scholars, and other intellectuals adhering to prevalent canons of scholarship in college and university settings. Thinkers in the HSS include Charles Long, Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, C. Eric Lincoln, Henry Mitchell, Charles Shelby Rooks, and Theophus Smith. While the works of African American women may be classified within these schools of thought, the special emphases and themes of womanist theology warrant separate examination as a unique vantage point for African American theology.

(p. 132) Womanist theology is characterized by holism on several levels. On one level, womanist theology appreciates the insights and contributions of African American women regardless of the terms used for self-identification. While African American women in religious and theological studies will refer to themselves as “womanists,” some prefer to be called “black feminists.”34 In addition to embracing differing women’s identities, on another level womanist theology aims for a comprehensive analysis of oppression. African Americans’ resistance to racism and sexism is related to opposition to classism, homophobia, and human destruction of the environment. Inspired by the writings and works of notable African American women of faith such as Jarena Lee, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Amanda Berry Smith, Anna Julia Cooper, Maria W. Stewart, Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Wells, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Fannie Lou Hamer, contemporary womanist theology seeks quality of life and liberation for both women and men. Womanist theologians link their work and movement to the struggles of other persons and groups seeking liberation and fulfillment. According to Anna Julia Cooper, as “black” and “Christian,” African Americans cannot be indifferent about the condition of African American women.35 The uplift of African Americans, as a whole, depends on the uplift of black women. No adequate analysis may be made of African American experience without attention to the experience and status of black women and other minority groups within African American communities. Lastly, womanist theology is conducted on a level of harmonizing scholarship and advocacy. Womanist theology develops from the use of interconnecting emphases: valuing women’s experience and wisdom, identifying and preserving sources on women’s experience, and disseminating theology through teaching and publication in both academic and community settings.

Conclusion

In spite of the plurality of method and interpretation in African American religious thought, there is a continuing reluctance of scholars, white and black, to address African American theology in its rich diversity and complexity. The great temptation, which is hard to resist, is to simplify African American theology by identifying one person or one type of construal as representative of African American theology. The vibrancy of African American theology seems dependent on the holism commended by womanist theology. The gift of womanist theology and African American theology’s future is uniformity without conformity, solidarity without exclusion.

Selected Texts

Allen, Norm R., Jr., editor. African American Humanism: An Anthology. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1991.Find this resource:

    Anderson, Victor. Beyond Ontological Blackness: An Essay on African American Religious and Cultural Criticism. New York: Continuum, 1995.Find this resource:

      Anderson, Victor. Creative Exchange: A Constructive Theology of African American Religious Experience. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2008.Find this resource:

        Cannon, Katie G., Alison P. Gise Johnson, and Angela D. Sims. “Living It Out: Womanist Works in Word.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 21, no. 2 (Fall 2005): 135–46.Find this resource:

          Coleman, Monica A. “Must I Be a Womanist?” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 22, no. 1 (2006): 85–96.Find this resource:

            Cone, Cecil W. The Identity Crisis in Black Theology. Nashville, TN: African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1975.Find this resource:

              Cone, James H. A Black Theology of Liberation. 20th anniversary ed. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1990.Find this resource:

                Cone, James H. God of the Oppressed. San Francisco: Harper & Row; New York: Seabury Press, 1975.Find this resource:

                  Cone, James H., and Gayraud S. Wilmore, eds. Black Theology: A Documentary History, 1966–1979. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1993.Find this resource:

                    Cone, James H., and Gayraud S. Wilmore, eds. Black Theology: A Documentary History, 1980–1992. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1993.Find this resource:

                      Du Bois, W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1961.Find this resource:

                        Floyd-Thomas, Stacey M., ed. Deeper Shades of Purple: Womanism in Religion and Society. New York: New York University Press, 2006.Find this resource:

                          Frazier, Thomas R., ed. Readings in African-American History. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Thompson Learning, 2001.Find this resource:

                            Hopkins, Dwight N. Shoes That Fit Our Feet: Sources for a Constructive Black Theology. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1993.Find this resource:

                              (p. 135) Hopkins, Dwight N., and George Cummings, eds. Cut Loose Your Stammering Tongue: Black Theology in the Slave Narratives. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1991.Find this resource:

                                Logan, Shirley Wilson, ed. With Pen and Voice: A Critical Anthology of Nineteenth-Century African-American Women. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1995.Find this resource:

                                  Long, Charles H. “Passage and Prayer: The Origin of Religion in the Atlantic World.” In The Courage to Hope: From Black Suffering to Human Redemption, ed. Quinton Hosford Dixie and Cornel West, 11–21. Boston: Beacon Press, 1999.Find this resource:

                                    Long, Charles H. Significations: Signs, Symbols, and Images in the Interpretation of Religion. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986.Find this resource:

                                      Moses, Wilson J. The Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850–1925. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1978.Find this resource:

                                        Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. New York: Plume, 1987.Find this resource:

                                          Pinn, Anthony B., ed. By These Hands: A Documentary History of African American Humanism. New York: New York University Press, 2000.Find this resource:

                                            Walker, Alice. In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983.Find this resource:

                                              Walters, Wendy W. 1997. “One of Dese Mornins, Bright and Fair/ Take My Wings and Cleave de Air: The Legend of the Flying Africans and Diasporic Consciousness.” Mellus 22, no. 3 (Fall): 3–27.Find this resource:

                                                Ware, Frederick L. Methodologies of Black Theology. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2008.Find this resource:

                                                  Webber, Thomas L. Deep Like the Rivers: Education in the Slave Quarter Community, 1831–1865. New York: Norton, 1978.Find this resource:

                                                    Woodson, Carter G., ed. Negro Orators and Their Orations. Washington, DC: Associates Publishers, 1925.Find this resource:

                                                      Wright, Kai, ed. The African American Archive: The History of the Black Experience through Documents. New York: Black God & Leventhal, 2001. (p. 136) Find this resource:

                                                        Notes:

                                                        (1) . James H. Cone, God of the Oppressed (San Francisco: Harper & Row, Seabury Press, 1975), 16–17; James H. Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation, 20th anniversary ed. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1990, 1970), xix, 4–5, 21–23.

                                                        (3) . W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications, 1961), 17.

                                                        (5) . Victor Anderson, Beyond Ontological Blackness: An Essay on African American Religious and Cultural Criticism (New York: Continuum, 1995).

                                                        (6) . Charles H. Long, Significations: Signs, Symbols, and Images in the Interpretation of Religion (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986), 7, 179–81.

                                                        (7) . Victor Anderson, Creative Exchange: A Constructive Theology of African American Religious Experience (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2008), 4, 30–31.

                                                        (8) . Long, Significations, 116, 153, 179–83; Cone, God of the Oppressed, 144.

                                                        (9) . Charles H. Long, “Passage and Prayer: The Origin of Religion in the Atlantic World,” in The Courage to Hope: From Black Suffering to Human Redemption, ed. Quinton Hosford Dixie and Cornel West (Boston: Beacon Press, 1999), 17.

                                                        (11) . Thomas R. Frazier, ed., Readings in African-American History, 3rd ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Thompson Learning, 2001), 180–81.

                                                        (12) . Shirley Wilson Logan, ed., With Pen and Voice: A Critical Anthology of Nineteenth-Century African-American Women (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1995), 13; Kai Wright, ed., The African American Archive: The History of the Black Experience through Documents (New York: Black God & Leventhal Publishers, 2001), 535.

                                                        (13) . Norm R. Allen, Jr., ed., African American Humanism: An Anthology (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1991), 153–54; Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens (San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983), 265.

                                                        (14) . Long, Significations, 176–79.

                                                        (15) . Long, Significations, 175–76.

                                                        (17) . Wendy W. Walters, “One of Dese Mornins, Bright and Fair/ Take My Wings and Cleave de Air: The Legend of the Flying Africans and Diasporic Consciousness,” Mellus 22, no. 3 (Fall 1997): 3–27.

                                                        (18) . Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon (New York: Plume, 1987).

                                                        (19) . Thomas L. Webber, Deep Like the Rivers: Education in the Slave Quarter Community, 1831–1865 (New York: Norton, 1978), 63–70, 80–101, 131–148.

                                                        (22) . Carter G. Woodson, ed., Negro Orators and Their Orations (Washington, DC: Associates Publishers, 1925), 705.

                                                        (25) . Wilson J. Moses, The Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850–1925 (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1978), 85–86.

                                                        (26) . Logan, With Pen and Voice, 43–46; Wright, The African American Archive, 184–87, 419–20, 535.

                                                        (27) . Cecil W. Cone, The Identity Crisis in Black Theology (Nashville, TN: African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1975).

                                                        (30) . Dwight N. Hopkins and George Cummings, ed., Cut Loose Your Stammering Tongue: Black Theology in the Slave Narratives (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1991), 47–66, 67–102.

                                                        (32) . Frederick L. Ware, Methodologies of Black Theology (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2008, 2002), 44–55, 84, 87–89, 94.

                                                        (34) . Monica A. Coleman, “Must I Be a Womanist?” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 22, no. 1 (2006): 85–96.