James Cone – Father of Black Liberation Theology
[col. writ. 4/29/18] © 2018 Mumia Abu-Jamal
James Cone was a small man, as in short of stature; but he was great in mind as a theologian and scholar. And after the emergence of the Black Freedom Movement of the ‘60s, he shocked the world with his seminal work Black Theology, where he wrote; “God is Black.”
Professor Cone wasn’t the first to say that, for, decades before he did so, scholar Arthur Huff Fauset wrote Black Gods of the Metropolis, published originally in 1944, detailing Black religious movements in US Northern ghettoes.
Professor Cone’s work, enlightened by the Black Freedom movement, led him to write:
God is black…There is no place in black theology for a colorless God in a society where human beings suffer precisely because of their color. The blackness of God means that God has made the oppressed condition God’s own condition. –James Hal Cone, author: A Black Theology of Liberation, 2nd ed. (1986)
Cone’s ideas came to fruition in Black Christian nationalist communities across America, who saw the Divine at work in the Black Freedom Movement.
Cone’s boldness was matched by his brilliance, and his writing was both liberating and revelatory. In 1991, Cone published Malcolm and Martin in America, which examined the ideas of Martin L. King, Jr., and Malcolm X, and their impacts on America. In writing of these two spiritual leaders and their respective ways of leadership, Cone wrote:
Anger and humor are like the left and right arm. They complement each other. Anger empowers the poor to declare their uncompromising opposition to oppression, and humor prevents them from being consumed by their fury. –James Cone, author: Malcolm and Martin in America.
James Cone, born in Fordyce, Arkansas, 1939, returns to his ancestors after a shimmering career as a Black scholar.