The History of Black Americans and the Black Church Episode #81

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with episode #81 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Matthew 6:24 which reads: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

Our History of Black Americans and the Black Church quote for today is from Lee June, a professor at Michigan State University and the author of the book, “Yet With A Steady Beat: The Black Church through a Psychological and Biblical Lens.” He writes, “We see this serving of two masters when one experiences no conflict with two obviously contradictory lifestyles. Such persons can earn money in a profession that would have historically been called sin and at the same time be highly praised in the church community. Such persons can engage in questionable activities and feel no real sense of remorse and are even open about this in the “Christian” community. Persons, for example, who win the lottery, even within some church communities will often boldly proclaim that it is a “blessing” from God. We see this serving of two masters when recent converts who are celebrities become instant religious experts. One has to wonder along with Karl Menninger and also ask the question: “Whatever became of sin?””

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery, Part 14: Blacks in Colonial New England, Part 2” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

New England slavery needed little legal recognition for its growth and development. When the codes emerged late in the seventeenth century, slavery had already become well established. In 1670 Massachusetts enacted a law providing that the children of slaves could be sold into bondage, and ten years later it began to enact measures restricting the movement of blacks. In 1660 Connecticut barred blacks from military service, and thirty years later it restrained them from going beyond the limits of the town without a pass. The restrictions against the education of slaves were not as great as in other regions, and frequently blacks learned to read and write.

Since the number of slaves in New England remained relatively small throughout the colonial period, there was little fear of insurrections. Nevertheless, many slaves indicated their dislike of the institution by running away. Others attacked their masters and even murdered them. Still others plotted to rebel. In 1658 some blacks and Indians in Hartford decided to make a bid for their freedom by destroying several houses of their masters. In the eighteenth century there were a number of conspiracies to rebel in Boston and other towns in Massachusetts. The situation became so serious in Boston in 1723 that the selectmen found it necessary to take precautionary measures by forbidding slaves to be on the streets at night and to be “idling or lurking together.”

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “The Negro Church and Assimilation, Part 2: The Walls Came Tumbling Down, Part 2” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

However, as the racial barriers are broken down and Negroes increasingly enter into the mainstream of American life, the traditional organization of Negro life is constantly being undermined. The so-called process of integration, which is only an initial stage in the assimilation of Negroes into American society, does not have the same effect on all parts of the social structure of the Negro community. The extent and the nature of the participation of Negroes in the wider American community is determined first by their class position. Negroes in the Black Belt or rural counties in the South where they constitute 50 per cent or more of the population are still almost completely isolated from the main currents of American culture. Although lower-class Negroes in cities, who include those engaged in domestic and personal services and those employed as unskilled labourers, have more contacts with American life, they are still more or less confined to the Negro community. As Negro workers acquire skills and become members of labour unions, they begin to enter into the mainstream of American life. This is, of course, more characteristic of Negro workers in the North than of those in the South. Many Negroes in the North who are employed as white-collar workers and in technical and professional occupations enter even more fully into the main currents of American society. Not only does their work enable them to share more fully in American culture but they associate more freely with their white fellow workers than any other section of the Negro population.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our third and final topic for today is from “The Black Church in the U.S.: Its Origin, Growth, Contributions, and Outlook” by Dr. William A. Banks.

Today we are looking at part 23 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

The Black Muslims
“Black” Preferred: It is said that “colored” is passe, and used only by the older generation. “African” was the title preferred by the first freed slaves in this country. “Afro-American” never really caught on and is considered too unwieldy. “Negro,” which means black in Spanish, is now considered Establishment by the militants; supposedly it is used only by the over-thirty age group. Some Whites still offend with their lower case “negro.” Whether used as a noun or an adjective, the word Negro should be capitalized. So what is left? “Black.” Formerly a descriptive adjective of contempt, today its use as a noun and adjective is preferred, almost demanded, by the under thirty age group.

At one Black Muslim meeting, the minister said, “Everybody here who’s proud he’s Black, stand up!” Every Muslim and would-be Muslim and sympathizer jumped up like quall taking off in a field. I remained seated. The minister then fixed his eyes upon me and, with scorn in his voice, asked me if I wanted to be white. I sat there. Then he proceeded to call out different colors, including “techni-color,” to see which one I would be proud to own, which one would bring me to my feet. I thought: How ridiculous! God made me the color I am. Is skin color something to be proud of? Or ashamed of? If I’m proud I’m black, does it mean the Caucasian is to be pitied and despised because his skin is white? Because of my defiant attitude I was politely but firmly asked to leave the mosque.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

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