The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #87 with Daniel Whyte III

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with episode #87 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Galatians 5:1 which reads: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

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, “I would offer one final suggestion. Given the critical role the church continues to occupy in the lives of individuals and the dangers of “innocent” but detrimental concepts and programs operating in the church setting, I recommend that congregations should include born-again spiritually mature psychologists, counselors, and mental health professionals as part of their “ministry” staff. After being properly selected, their role would be to help plan and to examine the activities of the congregation and what occurs within so as to maximize the “psychological” growth of members—for true spirituality will include good psychology.”

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 “That All May Be Free, Part 5: Slavery and the Revolutionary Philosophy, Part 5” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

The silence of the Declaration of Independence on the matter of slavery and the slave trade was to make it equally difficult for abolitionists and proslavery leaders to look to that document for support. Even if Jefferson did say that all men were created equal, it could not be forgotten that the antislavery passages of the Declaration were ruled out altogether. By endowing all with inalienable rights superior to those of positive law, it was, however, a standing invitation to insurrection that few could accept. The implications of the Declaration, however vague, were so powerful that Southern slave owners found it desirable to deny the self-evident truths that it expounded and were willing to do battle with abolitionists during the period of strain and stress over just what the Declaration meant with regard to society in nineteenth-century America.

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 “The Negro Church and Assimilation, Part 8: The Gospel Singers, Part 2” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

Gospel singing has, of course, become commercialized and that is another indication of the relation of Negro religious life to assimilation. It indicates in a sense the terms on which the Negro is being assimilated. Moreover, white men in the South are beginning to imitate the Negro Gospel Singers. And Negro gospel singing is often featured as a part of the programmes on television. Thus, the religious folk-songs of the Negro are becoming secularized despite the fact that the singing of them in secular entertainment is a concession to the so-called religious revival in the United States. The Gospel Singers, then, unlike the cults, do not represent a complete break with the religious traditions of the Negro. They represent or symbolize the attempt of the Negro to utilize his religious heritage in order to come to terms with changes in his own institutions as well as the problems of the world of which he is a part.

In a sense, therefore, the attempts of the Negro to resist segregation in the sit-down strikes in the South represent the same falling back upon his religious heritage in time of crisis. This movement on the part of Negro students in the South is supposed to be based upon the non-violent resistance movement of Gandhi. Some of its intellectual leaders like the Reverend Martin Luther King may use Gandhi’s non-violent resistance as an ideological justification of the movement, but Gandhism as a philosophy and a way of life is completely alien to the Negro and has nothing in common with the social heritage of the Negro. As Negro students go forth singing the Spirituals or the Gospel hymns when they engage in sit-down strikes or sing their Gospel songs in response to violence, they are behaving in accordance with the religious heritage of the Negro.

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


Our third 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 29 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

Malcolm Falls into Disfavor: Malcolm X was silenced by Mr. Muhammad for saying the assassination of President Kennedy was a “case of chickens coming home to roost.”

This was probably just an excuse to cut down Malcolm. Behind it all may have been jealousy of Malcolm’s prestige and influence; perhaps Mr. Muhammad’s own children, active in the cult, viewed with alarm Malcolm’s growing fame. I. F. Stone, in the article “The Pilgrimage of Malcolm X” gives this appraisal:

On the one side envy and on the other disillusions were to drive the two men apart. The crowds drawn by Malcolm and his very organizing success made Elijah Muhammad and his family jealous. On the other hand, Malcolm, who had kept the sect’s vows of chastity, was shocked when former secretaries of Elijah Muhammad filed paternity suits against the prophet. Malcolm had nothing but a small salary and the house the sect had provided for him.

Elijah Muhammad’s cars (two Cadillacs and a Lincoln Continental), his $200 pin-striped banker-styled suits, his elegantly furnished 18-room house in one of the better sections of Chicago’s Hyde Park, began to make a sour impression on Malcolm. The hierarchy lives well in practically all religions, and their worldly affluence fosters schism. Malcolm was too big, too smart, too able, to fit into the confines of this little sect and remain submissive to its family oligarchy. He began to open up a larger world, and this endangered Elijah Muhammad’s hold on the little band of unsophisticated faithful he had recruited.

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, 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, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Mark 9:43-48: “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

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.