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This Far by Faith

Journeys

Timeline

People

About the Series
Discussions

1526-1775: from AFRICA to AMERICA1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANINGTODAY: The Journey Continues
1526-1775: from AFRICA to AMERICA1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER
1526-1775: from AFRICA to AMERICA1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER
1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANING
Crisis of Faith TODAY: The Journey Continues



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Timeline: 1967-TODAY View Detailed Timeline
TODAY: The Journey Continues
TODAY: The Journey Continues



1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANING
Crisis of Faith





The rise of the Black Power movement in 1966 questioned the legitimacy of a movement using nonviolent action. Taking up the cry, "We have the right to defend ourselves," thousands of black parishioners, especially the youth, stopped going to church. As James Cone notes, "They had been waiting too long for God to call the oppressor into account." If Christianity told them to wait on the Lord to solve their problems, many didn't want to be Christian anymore. They wanted freedom, better schools, and economic equality - now.


Girl Watches Robert F. Kennedy’s Funeral Procession.

Girl Watches Robert F. Kennedy’s Funeral Procession.


Rev. Martin Luther King shifted his own focus towards a campaign for economic justice. He criticized the Vietnam War: defense spending, he said, would draw attention away from the program for social justice at home.

Then, in April of 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis.

His death sparked riots in 17 cities throughout the country, during which 39 people, 35 of them black, were killed. At King's funeral, Mahalia Jackson sang a mournful version of Thomas Dorsey's "Take My Hand, Precious Lord." It had been King's favorite song.

In the wake of the riots, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, the slain President's brother, spoke eloquently and empathetically about the need to address the concerns of inner city blacks. In the abyss left by King's passing, it seemed Senator Kennedy might carry the torch of racial and economic justice in the Democratic Party. He decided to run for the presidency, and thousands of black Americans put their hopes in him.

Then, just four months later, he, too, was killed, shot moments after winning the California Democratic Presidential Primary because of his pro-Israel stance.

That summer at the Democratic National Convention, Chicago police brutalized mostly white demonstrators who gathered in the name of freedom faith, peace, and economic justice. It was as if the progressive movement itself had suffered a beat down. The assassinations of progressive leaders were a clear sign that the path towards freedom would be no easy walk.

Some African American Christians tried to hold fast to their belief that an all-powerful and all-loving God would enact justice in history. Others put their faith in Black Capitalism; others joined pan-Africanist or revolutionary movements, or found that faith had failed them altogether - they fell into the abyss of drug dependency. For them, now, even the do-right, do-for-self philosophy of the Nation of Islam lacked the answers.

How could one keep the faith in a country gone so awry? Could one be black and Christian? Could Islam do better to meet the needs of African Americans? Were there alternatives to both religions? As the old traditions seemed to fail, African Americans found new ways to make faith meaningful to their lives.



CONTENT CREDIT:

People of Faith


 James Cone
James Cone

 Warith Deen Mohammed
Warith Deen Mohammed

 Cecil Williams
Cecil Williams

 Albert Cleage
Albert Cleage

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