Not All Black and White: African-American Christian History and the Politics of Historical Identity

Posted on May 12, 2015 by PLT Staff

Paper presented by Stephen Ray Jr. at the fourth meeting of the Lived Theology and Race Workgroup in Charlottesville, Virginia (October 2001). Ray argues that since the 1960s academic and ecclesial interpretations of African American Christian communities have neglected to fully engage with the issues of race, class, and ethnicity in their study. Ray critiques the flaws he finds in studies of African-American church life and history that focus only on historically African-American denominations.

Excerpt: “In common language you can’t talk about the Congregational church without talking about congregations. It is this recognition that I believe is absent in the ‘commonsense’ of many in the field of African-American religious studies. I contend that attention to these sources–the narratives of congregations and the public record–paints a picture of African-American Congregational churches which challenges what I have been calling the ‘commonsense’ of African-American religious studies.”

This document is published by the Project on Lived Theology (PLT). For any questions related to its use, please contact PLT ( Copy available for use subject to Creative Commons License CC-BY-NC-ND (Attribution required, Non-Commercial use, No Derivatives, 3.0, Unported.