We shall overcome, we shall overcome, we shall overcome someday, deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome someday. These legendary words have been the foundation for people of color since the long nights of captivity, slavery. Several prominent activists have made immense strides in making those words a reality. Such individuals like James H. Cone and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. James H. Cone, an advocate affectionately known for black liberation theology, a theology grounded in the experience of African Americans, and related to other Christian liberation theologies.
James H. Cone approach provided a realistic snap shot of a new way to articulate the distinctiveness of theology in the Black Church. Frustrated and outraged at the White Church of playing a significant role in the oppression and racism of black people. Cone believed that the Black Church is a powerful force [in his life] and did not do enough in regard to racism among African Americans. Cone exploited scriptures, slave spirituals, blues, and other prominent African American thinkers such as David Walker, Henry McNeal Turner, and W. E. B. DuBois to help shape his theology.
Malcolm X and the Black Power Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King also influenced his theology. Cone formulates a theology of liberation from within the context of the Black experience of oppression, interpreting the central kernel of the Gospels as Jesus’ identification with the poor, oppressed, and the resurrection as the ultimate act of liberation. This theology cited as attempts to understand the meaning of faith, the meaning of God, in a world that is broken. Cone devoted his professional life to the study of religion from an African perspective.
This groundbreaking influential work links the study of Jesus Christ life with the African American experience. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a Baptist minister, companion, father, civil rights activist, and intellectual Dr. King was about nonviolence and equal justice for all. Dr. King was a prophetic and dynamic individual who knew that people of color suffered from discrimination including racial segregation and freedom and became proactive to promote equality throughout the United States. Dr. King’s strategy was to promote nonviolence in regard to the injustice minorities were undergoing.
Dr. King used his proficient writing and speaking abilities to divulge the hardships people of color faced during these perilous times. Dr. King also spearheaded several protest and movements to address the outrageous treatment of colored people. Dr. King exploited prominent black activist and minority leaders and supporters to help deliver his message. This approach designed to gain media coverage with the hope that viewers will feel sympathy. Dr. King’s contributions consist of the right to vote, desegregation of public places and schools, labor rights, and other basic rights. Through Dr.
King’s perseverance The Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was established. Conclusion ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, and to take him at his word, and just to rest upon his promises, and know, thus say the lord. Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him, how I’ve proved him o’er and o’er Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more (Louisa M. R. Stead, 1882). These lyrics speak volume to the daily struggles of these highly influential men whose main objective was to establish peace and goodwill for all mankind.
These intellectual individuals reluctantly drafted by a higher power to uncover the silence of racism and oppression among African Americans. During these taxing times certain individuals surely took refuge in their stereotypes, but unfortunately could not hide their long. Racism asks one thing of those it attacks are they human? We are human and do not deserve cruelty, meanness, or treated as outcasts each is exactly what God created a person. A person, not evil deserving to be judged, not victims longing for pity, but people ready for support and worthy of compassion. James H.
Cone, a black theologian of liberation who like all other black theologians was seeking freedom and justice. Cone has a strong condemnation toward racism and oppression of black people, especially within the black church. He strongly believed that religion is the solution to any problem. Dutifully, Cone turned to scriptures as the sanction for his demands, not allowing anyone or anything to separate him from the love of God. James H. Cone main objective was to resurrect himself and his people from the ashes of racism by using the foundation of the Black Church [scriptures] and confronting adversity.
Dr. King tussled with the cares of life looking for solutions, concern for his family, and stood up for righteousness, justice, and truth. Dr. King knew what he was up against was daunting and knew enough to call on the name of Jesus. Dr. King believed in the power of prayer even through the countless number of threats he received and even arrested he stood unyielding for what is right, justice. Dr. King refused to sink in the quicksands of racism and abhorrence. Dr. King realized that he had to alter the mindset of society if change was to come.
These two famous thinkers were mindful of the test and misery they would face. Their work addresses the advancement for minority people with the hope and promise to expunge racism among all people. During these historical moments one could only imagine that the most important audience in their lives was family. One could imagine the mental anguish Dr. King experienced wondering if his children will become orphans will his wife be a widow will his community be without a leader, and a nation in dismay.
James Cone challenged the theology in place during his quest by educating himself as it related to change and ownership. His prophetic approach leaves a plethora of accomplishments. Dr. King’s resume of hardships and accomplishments help shape the world today such an eloquent individual who knew how to turn a negative situation into a positive one by not perishing in silence. Dr. King envisioned a better tomorrow for little Black boys and girls who one day would hold hands with little White boys and girls in unity and sit at the table of brotherhood.
This vision ordained by his faith, Dr. King knew he had to police himself to tolerate the burdens of others. Arrested in protest of the Birmingham Bus Boycott he wrote a letter entitled what is a man? This insightful letter revealed the components of a man. A man is a biological man with a physical body who is also a child of God. A man is a spirit with a mind, and can reason and man is God’s marvelous creation made in his image. Finally, man is a sinner and faced with the woes of the world and entitled to forgiveness for his sins upon repentance.
This passage of understanding supported and validated that all men created are equal, therefore should have the same rights and privileges regardless of the color of their skin. Dr. King received a letter from a ninth grade student from White Plans High School. This letter written by a White female who expressed her concern for his misfortune and suffering the letter titled if you had sneezed. Dr. King embraced her words of compassion, support, and empathy and used the title as one of his many legendary speeches.
If he had sneezed, death would have become him, the animosity and cruelty he faced is unsettling. Dr. King was aware of the position he was in and had to condition himself to arrest his mind and hold his tongue hostage. Dr. King’s legendary I have a dream speech painted the true reality of African Americans during the 1960s. This obnoxious picture was a demonstration of freedom and justice for all removing the chains of discrimination and poverty for black people from the long nights of captivity [slavery] to the broken promise made through the Declaration of Independence [freedom]. Dr.
King referenced these issues to a bad check [insufficient funds] that the Bank of Justice [the vaults of opportunity] was erroneous to people of color. The urgency to have sufficient funds [justice] for all God’s children was critical. This malleable and timeless speech has empowered the parochial of society slavishly to let freedom ring. Critically speaking, we cannot walk alone, and as we walk we cannot walk in silence. This journey of devastation and misfortune based upon the racial and economic oppression of people of color and minorities was the foundation for their crusade for justice.
These architects of the civil rights movement had to face the cold winds of rejection and the harsh reality of racism. James H. Cone emotionally bruised but not broken, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began with the dream and faced his nightmares. These patriarchs of the civil rights movement had to face their today to embrace their tomorrow, they had to replace judgment with affection, in intricate moments raise their spirits and call upon the lord. James Cone used the cornerstone of people of color during those perilous times, religion to ordain his efforts.
Cone should have incorporated two words consideration and understanding. Consideration and understanding of the views of others, religion is such a vital and critical component of the Black culture. Dr. King’s approach leaves little space for improvement, but he could have incorporated the visibility of youth the next generation. This approach would have placed a face to the epidemic that he was fighting to cure. Today as we continue to struggle with acism, hate, crime, disease, discrimination, unplanned pregnancy, stigma, religious antics, mothers against daughters, and fathers against sons we must pledge ourselves to be self evident and remove the veil of our silence. In 2011, one could only image Dr. King’s views of today, specifically people of color as it relates to the adversity he endured for civil rights and justice. Nevertheless, the human race will be forever grateful for two iconic martyrs of all-time James H. Cone and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. not victims, but messengers for mankind.