Black Religion and Black Radicalism: An Interpretation of the Religious History of African Americans

by Gayraud S. Wilmore. Orbis Books, 1998.

'Black Religion and Black Radicalism' presents a religious history of African Americans—a history seen through the lens of black radicalism, which author Gayraud Wilmore describes as (1) the quest for independence from white control; (2) the revalorization of the image of Africa; and (3) "the acceptance of protest and agitation as theological prerequisites for black liberation and the liberation of all oppressed peoples."

This third edition was rewritten because, in Wilmore's view, "religion is not playing the role today that it played… there is still a need to recall the route we took to reach where we are today…There are still black church members, or those preparing in theological schools to lead church members, who refuse to accept that institution’s withdrawal from the struggle for black liberation."

Wilmore begins his history with a brief overview of African beginnings in black religion and an acknowledgment that more needs to be written. From there, the author examines key periods of history: the religion of the slave, the black church freedom movement, black nationalism, the civil rights struggle, black power, and black theology. Throughout, he emphasizes that the history of religion for African Americans is inextricably connected to the history of the struggles for justice and freedom

Seminarians and church leaders seeking to understand African American religious history and the quest for social justice at its heart will appreciate this scholarly volume.