PODCAST: Slavery in Mainland Latin America, Part 9; Negro Cults in the City, Part 1; Radicalism: 1915 – 1953, Part 8 (The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #65 with Daniel Whyte III)

Welcome to episode #65 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Matthew 18:20 which reads: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

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, “One of the major contributions of community psychology to the counseling field is the conceptualization of various approaches to prevention and intervention. These are: Primary prevention/systems intervention. This approach rests on the belief that problems or issues are often the result of the way systems operate, policies are implemented, structures are put in place, etc. The assumption is that in order to eliminate or treat the problem one must make an intervention at the systems level; that is, at the level of institutions, policies, and structures. This is the approach that Dr. Willie Richardson basically takes in the book Reclaiming the Urban Family—How to Mobilize the Church as a Family Training Center.”

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 “Slavery in Mainland Latin America, Part 9” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

While slaves in Brazil and elsewhere were a source of profit, they were also a source of constant trouble. Living in small, crowded huts and subsisting on coarse fare, they frequently became restive and sought to break the chains of slavery. In 1550 the slaves of Santa Marta [SAN-TA MAR-TAH], Colombia, committed great atrocities and burned the city. Five years later an African calling himself king led a violent insurrection that was subdued only by strenuous exertions of the authorities. One of the most desperate bids for freedom in the New World occurred in Brazil in the seventeenth century. It was the establishment of the Republic of Palmares [PAL-MAHR-ES], an African state in Alagoas [AH-LAH-GO-AHS] in northeastern Brazil, between 1630 and 1697. Fleeing the towns and plantations between Bahia [BAH-HEE-AH] and Pernambuco [PEHR-NAM-BOO-KUH], runaway slaves penetrated the heavy forests and settled rustic communities in the Rio Mundahu valley. Despite sieges laid by the Portuguese and by the Dutch, who were attempting to occupy that portion of Brazil in 1644, these Maroons held out until 1697, when the superior forces of the Portuguese soldiers entered the walled city of Palmares [PAL-MAHR-ES]3. Refusing to surrender, the leader and his principal assistants hurled themselves to certain death from the rocky promontory overlooking the city. Although the other insurrections and Maroon communities established in Spanish and Portuguese America perhaps never equaled Palmares, many of them were greater than any that slaves undertook in British America.

Several factors distinguished slavery in Latin America from that institution in British America. One such factor was the relatively small number of Spaniards and Portuguese in their colonies as compared to the considerable numbers of Britons in the English colonies. It was not at all unusual for slaves to outnumber by a large margin their Spanish and Portuguese owners and officials who frequently had little or no family with them and who were, all too often, infrequent visitors to their New World domains. Such a disproportionate number of blacks facilitated the many more successful insurrections and Maroon communities that arose in Latin America than arose in British America. Perhaps it also had something to do with the strict slave codes which were introduced into Latin America earlier than in British America.

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 “Negro Religion in the City, Part 14: Negro Cults in the City, Part 1” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

The cults which have developed among Negroes represent something new in the religious life of Negroes. They are sometimes not differentiated from the traditional religious groups which meet in abandoned stores and houses because the cults often meet in the same type of buildings. In most of the ‘store-front’ churches the Negro maintains his traditional beliefs and conceptions of God and the world and himself. On the other hand, in the new cults which flourish in the cities, Negroes have abandoned their traditional notions about God and the world and, what is of crucial importance, their conceptions of themselves. An attempt has been made to classify the different types of cults from the standpoint of such features as faith healing or holiness or whether they claim an Islamic origin, but there is much overlapping. Moreover, while all these cults represent ‘New Gods of the City’, there is an important difference between those which seek to restore a purer form of Christianity or sanctification and holiness and those which tend to be secular in outlook and represent primarily a complete transformation of the Negro as a race. Of course, in some of those cults in which the Negro escapes from his racial identity, there may be faith healing and sanctification but these are subordinate to the main orientation of the cults.

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 8 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

Some men who organized storefronts did so out of their own vanity and the desire to be leaders. Conflict of leadership within the established denominations also help increase the number of such churches. But it is also true that some leaders desire to be used by the Lord Jesus Christ to win souls unto Him and nourish those souls in God’s Word. Some men have obviously been led of the Spirit of God to found such assemblies.God has blessed their efforts. Blacks who criticize storefronts often ask, “Why are there so many of them? Look! Four in one block. Why don’t they get together?” They often refer to poorly trained ministers as “jacklegs.”

Whatever the motivations and reasons for their existence, and in spite of the criticisms, the storefronts serve a good purpose. As Frazier remarks, it is irrelevant in a sense and useless to try to answer the question, “Are we overchurched?” For many Blacks in the North and South, the storefront represented a haven from the cruel White world and afforded the only true fellowship and social life they had. This is not to overlook the fact that where the Word of God is faithfully preached and taught, sinners are saved and the saved sinners are edified.

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.