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Black History Is American History (1619-2021)


By the African Descent Lutheran Association in Metro NY (ADLA MNY)

"Occupy Politics" acrylic on canvas by Allen Schmertzler (
Lift ev’ry voice and sing,
‘Til earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on ’til victory is won.
Stony the road we trod.Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
‘Til now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God, True to our native land.                        
                              ​               James Weldon Johnson
Often referred to as “The Black National Anthem” - was written as a poem by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) leader James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), and then set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954 in 1899.
The hymn opens with a resounding celebration of liberty, “a song full of the faith” and “a song full of the hope. The mood darkens as the song recalls the deadly cruelty and bloody path of enslavement” “Stony the road we trod, Bitter the chast'ning rod.”  The song ends by affirming our mighty God, who knows our “weary years” and “silent tear” and leads us into the light.
Black/African American  Culture and Theology
This space will not allow the listing or trying to capture the essence of Black culture. There are too many who have impacted this part of American history. Their influences included the Black heritage and American culture; visual arts; music, - jazz blues and spirituals; theater - drama and opera; dance; poetry; fiction; literature and activism.
Great Migration
The northern Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem was meant to be an upper-class white neighborhood in the 1880s, but rapid overdevelopment led to empty buildings and desperate landlords seeking to fill them.
In the early 1900s, a few middle-class Black families from another neighborhood known as Black Bohemia moved to Harlem, and other Black families followed. Some white residents initially fought to keep African Americans out of the area, but failing that many whites eventually fled.
Outside factors led to a population boom: From 1910 to 1920, African American populations migrated in large numbers from the South to the North. In 1915 and 1916, natural disasters in the south put Black workers and sharecroppers out of work. Additionally, during and after World War I immigration to the United States fell, and northern recruiters headed south to entice Black workers to their companies. By 1920, some 300,000 African Americans from the South had moved north, and Harlem was one of the most popular destinations for these families.
The Harlem Renaissance was the development of the Harlem neighborhood in New York City as a Black cultural mecca in the early 20th Century and the subsequent social and artistic explosion that resulted. Lasting roughly from the 1910 through the mid-1930s, the period is considered a golden age in African American culture - manifesting in literature, music, stage performance and art.
Notables in the Harlem Renaissance are: Langston Hughes; Zora Neal-Hurston; Howard Thurman; Marcus Garvey; Aaron Davis; W.E B. DuBois; Angela Weld- Grimke; Georgia Douglas; and Anne Spence.
Black Arts Movement
The Black Arts Movement (BAM) was a cultural movement in the 1960's and 1970's. It manifested itself in the arts and scholarship. Black writers used their creativity to support a Black American Revolution.  Scholars urged Black Americans to regain connections to their African context.
Important influencers in The Black Arts Movement were: Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones); Nikki Giovanni; Sonia Sanchez; Maya Angelou; James Baldwin; Lorraine Hansbury; Dorothy West; John Coltrane; Thelonious Monk; Louis Armstrong; Duke Ellington and John Coltrane.
BAM led to the Hip-Hop movement.
Black Liberation Theology
Rev. Dr. James Hal Cone, author of God of the Oppressed and The Cross and the Lynching Tree is know as the father of the liberation movement.  One of the tasks of Black Theology is to make certain Black faith functions as a creative revolutionary challenge to the structure of injustice..
Quoting Dr. Cone, he states, “Black theology is an understanding of the Gospel which sees justice for the poor as the very heart of what the Christian Gospel is about and the very heart of what God is doing in the world.”
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