Black liberation theology was a radical movement born of a competitive time.
By the mid-1960s, the horns of Jericho seemed about to sound for the traditional black church in the United States. Martin Luther King Jr. was yielding to Malcolm X. Young black preachers embraced the Nation of Islam and black intellectuals sought warmth in the secular and Marxist-tinged fire of the black power movement.
As a young, black and decidedly liberal theologian, James H. Cone saw his faith imperiled.
“Christianity was seen as the white man’s religion,” he said. “I wanted to say: ”˜No! The Christian Gospel is not the white man’s religion. It is a religion of liberation, a religion that says God created all people to be free.’ But I realized that for black people to be free, they must first love their blackness.”
Dr. Cone, a founding father of black liberation theology, allowed himself a chuckle. “You might say we took our Christianity from Martin and our emphasis on blackness from Malcolm,” he said.