PODCAST: The History of Black Americans and the Black Church Episode #76 with Daniel Whyte III

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with episode #76 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is John 14:6 which reads: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

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, “In reference to Islam, Lincoln and Mamiya have noted that it has become particularly attractive to young Black males in America. They quoted a New York Times article, which estimated that in 1989 approximately one million of the six million Muslims in America were Black and made the following observation: ‘A full decade before the turn of the twenty-first century, if the estimate of 6 million Muslims in the United States is reasonably accurate, Islam has become the second largest religion in America, after Protestant and Catholic Christianity. American Judaism with a steadily declining membership is now third. While much more of this Islamic growth is independent of the black community, the possibility of serious impact on the Black Church cannot be peremptorily dismissed. The phenomenon of more black males preferring Islam while more black females adhere to traditional black Christianity is not as bizarre as it sounds. It is already clear that in Islam the historic black church denominations will be faced with a far more serious and more powerful competitor for the souls of black folk than the white churches ever were. When is the question, not whether.’”

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 10: The Middle Colonies, Part 1” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

Although the Dutch were primarily interested in the slave trade and made great profits from transporting slaves to various colonies, they did not neglect their own New World settlements. There were large plantations in New Netherland, particularly in the valley of the Hudson River, and by 1638 many of them were cultivated largely with slave labor. The institution of slavery, as practiced by the Dutch in the New World, was relatively mild, with slaves receiving fairly humane treatment and many considerations as to their personal rights. The Dutch slave code was not elaborate, and manumission was not an uncommon reward for long or meritorious service. Although the demand for slaves always exceeded the supply, the number imported by the Dutch never reached such proportions as to cause serious apprehension or difficulty during the period of their domination.

The character of the institution of slavery changed when the English took over New Netherland in 1664. In 1665 the colonial assembly recognized the existence of slavery where persons had willingly sold themselves into bondage, and in the statute of 1684 slavery was recognized as a legitimate institution in the province of New York. In subsequent years the black population of New York grew substantially. In 1698 there were only 2,170 blacks in a total population of 18,067, while in 1723 the census listed 6,171 slaves. By 1771 the black population had increased to 19,883 in a total population of 168,007.

The slave code of New York became refined early in the eighteenth century. In 1706 the colony enacted a law stating that baptism of a slave did not provide grounds for a claim to freedom. A further and certainly significant provision was that a slave was at no time a competent witness in a case involving a freeman. In 1715 the legislature enacted a law providing that slaves caught traveling forty miles north of Albany, presumably bound for Canada, were to be executed upon the oath of two credible witnesses. Meanwhile, New York City was enacting ordinances for better control of slaves. In 1710 the city forbade blacks from appearing “in the streets after nightfall without a lantern with a lighted candle in it.”

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


Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 25: Negro Cults in the City, Part 11” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

Hundreds of Negroes in Chicago flocked to the new leader, who had become known as Noble Drew Ali. They believed that the change in identification from Negro to Asiatic would bring salvation. The members were given a large calling card which bore the inscription: a replica of star and crescent with Islam beneath it, a replica of clasped hands with unity above it, and a replica of circled ‘7’ with Allah beneath it. Beneath this was the statement that the card represented their nationality and identification card, that the cult honoured all divine prophets, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and Confucius, and that the bearer was a Moslem under the Divine laws of the Holy Koran of Mecca, Love, Truth, Peace, Freedom, and Justice. There was added: ‘I am a citizen of the U.S.A.’ Negroes who carried this card believed that the mere showing of the card would restrain white men if they would be inclined to disturb or harm Negroes. In fact, the members of the cult became so aggressive and insulting in their behavior towards whites that it was necessary for the Noble Drew Ali to admonish them against such behaviour. As the cult grew, some Negroes with education joined the organization and attempted to exploit the members by selling ‘herbs, magical charms, and potions, and literature pertaining to the cult’. As the internal strife increased, one of these would-be leaders was killed and Noble Drew Ali was arrested for murder, though he was not in Chicago at the time. He died under mysterious circumstances after being released from jail under bond and was awaiting trial. After the death of Noble Drew Ali, the cult split into a number of sects with some claiming that they were following him in his re-incarnation.

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


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

Immorality: Ruth Boaz, a White woman who left the movement and became a Christian, wrote an article revealing Father Divine as “a charlatan, a false god, cruel and cynical imposter…the Devil incarnate.” Miss Boaz admitted having sexual relations with Father Divine, who evidently freely engaged in adultery while preaching sexual abstinence or “non-sex,” as he called it, to his followers. Even married couples who joined the movement were separated and were not allowed to live together. Miss Boaz was told that “God” does as he pleases, and that he sought to eliminate her desire by bringing it to the surface.

Divine was exposed some years earlier in the 1930s by one Viola Wilson or Faithful Mary, who substantially told the same thing about Father Divine’s sex life. In 1946 he married Edna Rose Ritchings, a White Canadian then known as Sweet Angel, now as Mother Divine. She was twenty-one; Father was eighty or eighty-one. A Baptist minister in Washington, D.C. performed the ceremony, Mother Divine is now head of the movement, controlling the money and making the important decisions. It is note-worthy that, according to Miss Boaz, four of the six top officials in the movement were White.

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.