News – USA – Local leaders are weighing the role of the black church


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Since its inception on the American plantation, the Black Church has served as a social hall, sanctuary and command center for social change

Watch “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song,” a four-hour series by Henry Louis Gates, Jr, Premiere at 8 p.m. Feb. 16, 2021, on KCPBS

Instead of opposing the mention of politics from the pulpit, the Black Church tends to take politics by the horns and steer it towards progress for its people

In April 1964, Kansas City ordinance proposed separating taverns, retail stores, and other public spaces. Although the New York Times labeled it “moderate” at the time, there was still considerable backlash from whites Kansas City resident

Local civil rights titan Rosemary Lowe used the influence of the black churches to aid the registration of Black Kansas Citians.These efforts resulted in record numbers of the black community appearing and the ordinance passed with a razor-thin margin

According to Mark Turner, chairman of the deacons in St The James Missionary Baptist Church, which uses the Black Church as a vehicle to connect en masse with the black community, is a common political strategy

“If you had something you should do to do it, it would be positive in the black church, the black churches were the place you had to go,” said Turner

Rev DR Karla Cooper has led the historic congregation at Allen Chapel AME Church for three years and is not afraid to dive in depth when it comes to speaking the truth from the pulpit

“If our churches were really based on the historical Jesus Movement, nobody could have been more politicians than [Jesus],” she said. “He actually fought against the government, the Roman Empire, and turned it upside down by, as Karl Marx would say, amassing a peasant revolution ”

From a historical perspective, the Black Church has always been a place of activism

On the plantation, the church was one of the few places where enslaved people could congregate to speak and plan their futures. Enslaved preachers were some of the only blacks allowed to travel between plantations to organize and relay messages

In the Kansas City area, this was one of the first times in a hotel basement in Parkville, Missouri

An article written in August 1835 was one of the first instances of enslaved people gathering to worship in the area that group would later form the Washington Chapel CME Church, which still exists today

Dr Cora Thompson, a current member of the Church, said that the simple act of gathering to start your own church was a political act. At the time, the authority of black preachers was not recognized by white ecclesiastical institutions To assert a community leader, he had to oppose the white church, which Thompson said was a very political authority

With that in mind, it’s not surprising that Kansas City’s first black mayor made his way from the pulpit to the city hall, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a United Methodist pastor, served as mayor from 1991 to 1999 before moving to Congress

Of all the cultural traditions of the Black Church, gospel music is perhaps the best known

The message of freedom has flowed into gospel music. Enslaved people used certain gospel songs as a means of discreet communication. Songs had meanings from “Cheer up” to “We are fleeing tonight” the root of many popular musical genres

According to Cooper, the Black Church continues to be a safe place, a haven, and “the only place we can say is ours”

Catherine Hoffman, working with Report for America, reports on community affairs and culture for Kansas City PBS

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Henry Louis Gates Jr, PBS, Black Church, African American

News – US – Local leaders weigh the role of the Black Church
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