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(solution) Your lesson begins by discussing religious beliefs that


Your lesson begins by discussing religious beliefs that originated in Africa and were first practiced in secret, as ?conjure? or ?voodoo.? Nevertheless, these beliefs expressed slaves? faith that religious practices could lead to personal freedom. The lesson ends with two documents from the Civil Rights period, one from Dr. King (a Southern Baptist) and one from Malcolm X (a Black Muslim). Take one or the other and suggest a religious idea the modern writer expresses that has its roots in the older, African-based religious beliefs of slaves.

Respond to this task in an original post of about 150 words (3-5 sentences) and then make a briefer comment (no more than 50 words) reacting to a fellow classmate?s post.  You will receive up to 8 points for your post and 2 points for your reaction.


Post-Script: Religion and the Civil

 

Rights Movement

 

I would like to introduce a related theme into this lesson to illustrate

 

how religion continued to shape African Americans? responses to

 

oppression and discrimination in the twentieth century. In your

 

textbook, you will read about how Black churches formed an important

 

center to Black community life after emancipation. By the 1960s,

 

almost a century after the Civil War had ended, Black Americans

 

continued to find themselves limited in their abilities to function as full

 

citizens. Jim Crow laws in the South allowed segregation in places like

 

schools, restaurants, and public transportation. Meanwhile, lawenforcement officials often looked the other way as blacks were

 

harassed and even murdered by angry and prejudiced groups. Even

 

after segregation was officially outlawed, it remained enforced

 

informally through violence and intimidation.

 

Churches played an important role in the growing controversy as many religious

 

Americans grew outraged by the unfair and often brutal treatment of African

 

Americans in the south. Blacks and whites participated in church sponsored

 

marches and protests. At the helm of these efforts was the Reverend Martin

 

Luther King Jr. The Christian churches, however, were not united in the cause

 

to extend civil rights to all Americans. Some congregations maintained the status

 

quo, either through complacency or tacit support for continued prejudicial

 

practices. In the first of the readings for this section, an excerpt from the sermon

 

?A New Heaven and a New Earth,? preached by the Rev. C. W. Franklin (191584), we encounter a dramatic example of this prejudice. Rev. Franklin, a strong

 

supporter of the civil rights movement, tells an anecdote of a white minister who

 

intended to compliment the choir of a black church at which he preached. But by

 

saying that in the afterlife he intended to visit ?the colored side? of heaven to hear

 

the singing, he unintentionally revealed the depth of his belief that the races are

 

not and never will be equal. Franklin, judiciously, says this is the result of the

 

discrimination he saw on earth: before such people can see heaven as the

 

perfect world it should be, they first have to experience a new earth, one in which

 

traditional prejudices are challenged and corrected.

 

Similarly, most members of the Birmingham clergy did not support Dr. King?s

 

1963 protest activities in Birmingham, Alabama, and criticized him and his fellow

 

the protestors for disturbing the peace in their community. Your second reading

 

is the letter King wrote to his fellow Christians when he was jailed forhis activities.

 

In it, King clearly articulates his disappointment that other Christians did not feel

 

a religious obligation to fight social injustice. In modern culture, King?s ideas have

 

tended to be held as emblematic of the connection between civil rights and

 

Christianity. Although many historians have been uncomfortable with positing religion as the prime motivator in the civil rights movement, few deny how

 

significant religious language and symbolism were to that cause. When

 

protestors sang ?We shall overcome,? they sang a hymn and aligned themselves

 

with religious causes.

 

King?s alignment with Evangelical religion, however, was not the only

 

source for leadership and motivation within the Civil Rights movement.

 

Although King criticized the apathy of some Christians, he stayed firmly

 

within the Evangelical fold. Malcolm X presented a radically different

 

view. Malcolm X

 

After a childhood and youth filled with violence, crime, poverty, and

 

prejudice, Malcolm Little was sentenced to prison. Ironically, this time

 

in jail gave him the time, safety, and stability to learn to read and to

 

study. While incarcerated, Malcolm read about the religious movement

 

called Nation of Islam. This group emerged during the early

 

twentieth century among African Americans who believed that their

 

ancestors had originally been Muslim (followers of Islam). We will be

 

learning about Islam in a later chapter. Like Christians and Jews,

 

Muslims believe in one God and in prophets. The Black Nation of Islam,

 

however, became a separate religion in and of itself. Drawing upon

 

some Islamic ideas, as well as Christian and Jewish traditions, Nation of

 

Islam leaders developed a religion centered on their perception of

 

Black nationality and history.

 

By the 1930s, Nation of Islam followers believed that the one God?

 

Allah?was speaking through a man called Elijah Muhammad.

 

According to their prophet, the sacred story of human origin was one of

 

Black superiority and a demonic plot which had produced a bleached

 

out White race. The Whites??blue eyed devils??functioned to press

 

Blacks to recognize their own superiority. Christianity, in particular, was

 

a plot devised by the ?demonic? Whites, to oppress and torment

 

Blacks.

 

Having struggled in a life of violence and deprivation, Malcolm Little

 

responded to these notions of persecution and oppression. He

 

continued reading and studying history while in prison, ultimately

 

concluding that the Nation of Islam was right: the Black race had been

 

systematically oppressed throughout history. Because Christianity was

 

an instrument of this persecution, no liberation could come from within

 

the Evangelical tradition. Blacks would need to break away from white

 

culture and religion in order to overcome oppression. Malcolm changed

 

his last name to X at this point, and devoted the remainder of his life to writing about black history and fighting for civil rights. Before his

 

assassination in 1965, Malcolm X had abandoned his alliance with the

 

Nation of Islam, and came to argue instead for universal solidarity. You

 

will read in his speech, however, the reasons for why the Nation of

 

Islam?s renunciation of Christianity was so resonant to him.

 


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