RELIGION
08/21/2015 10:36 am ET Updated Jan 03, 2017

40 Essential Books For Any #BlackChurchSyllabus

(And more.)

The black church has a long and important history in the United States, and it continues to serve as a driver of social justice work in many African-American communities.

To highlight that work, digital strategist Jamye Wooten started a conversation on Twitter tagged #BlackChurchSyllabus, which has generated a long list of suggested readings from scholars and theologians.

“The ask has been to contribute a list of books, articles or multimedia materials that the church should be reading at this time or that you think are foundational to understanding of the black church and doing the work of justice,” Wooten told The Huffington Post.

The discussion, which will live permanently on Wooten’s website KineticsLive.com, comes at an important time in American history, he said, when many churches around the country are questioning racial imbalances and reinvigorating their social justice work.

“As we find ourselves in this moment ― whether it’s police violence or the systemic and structural violence that many in the African American community are being confronted with ― I wanted to created a list of resources to help clergy think theologically about these times and the role of the church,” Wooten said.

The Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard, dean of Howard University’s School of Divinity, is among the scholars sharing their reading lists with the conversation. For him, #BlackChurchSyllabus is important for many of the same reasons #BlackLivesMatter is important.

“The whole of body, mind and spirit are inextricably met in the freedom struggle of peoples of African descent, no less people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, persons on the margins,” Pollard told HuffPost. “Teaching the #BlackChurchSyllabus is to affirm a people long denied to be people and in whose struggle is expressed the transgression of generations and the interrogation of a discordant social order.”

Below is a sampling of suggested readings from Pollard, as well as Dr. Ralph C. Watkins, Dr. Anthony G. Reddie and Rev. Dr. Eboni Marshall Turman. Many other scholars have shared their lists ― scroll down to the bottom of this article to see a longer compilation of #BlackChurchSyllabus tweets.

Here are 40 essential #BlackChurchSyllabus books, according to the scholars: 

  1. James Cone, God of the Oppressed
  2. Kelly Brown Douglas, The Black Christ
  3. Kelly Brown Douglas, The Black Church and Sexuality: A Womanist Perspective
  4. Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, If it Wasn’t for the Woman…
  5. James Hood, Must God Remain Greek?: Afro Cultures And God Talk
  6. Will Coleman, Tribal Talk: Black Theology, Hermeneutics, and African/American Ways Of “Telling The Story”
  7. Horace L. Griffin, Their Own Receive Them Not: African American Lesbian And Gays in Black Churches
  8. Frederick L. Ware, Methodologies of Black Theology
  9. James Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation
  10. Jacquelyn Grant, White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus
  11. Delores Williams, Sisters in the Wilderness
  12. Katie Cannon, Katie’s Cannon
  13. Anthony G. Reddie, Working Against The Grain
  14. Anthony G. Reddie, SCM Core text: Black Theology
  15. Dwight N. Hopkins, Down, Up and Over
  16. Dwight N. Hopkins and Edward P. Antonio, Cambridge Companion to Black Theology
  17. Monica A. Coleman, Making A Way Out of No Way
  18. W. E. B. Du Bois, The Negro Church
  19. Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited
  20. Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
  21. Desmond Tutu, God Is Not A Christian
  22. Cheryl Anderson, Ancient Laws & Contemporary Controversies
  23. James Forbes, Whose Gospel?
  24. Anthony Pinn and Dwight Hopkins, eds, Loving the Body: Black Religious Studies and the Erotic
  25. Toni Morrison, Beloved
  26. Alice Walker, The Color Purple
  27. Derrick Bell, Ethical Ambition
  28. Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
  29. Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
  30. Alton B. Pollard III and Carol B. Duncan, eds, The Black Church Studies Reader
  31. James Cone, Black Theology & Black Power
  32. James Cone, The Cross & The Lynching Tree
  33. Kelly Brown Douglas, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God
  34. Marcia Y. Riggs, Plenty Good Room: Women Versus Male Power In The Church
  35. Emilie M. Townes, A Troubling in My Soul: Womanist Perspectives on Evil and Suffering
  36. Mitzi Smith, I Found God In Me: A Woman Biblical Hermeneutic Reader
  37. Kelly Brown Douglas, What’s Faith Got to Do With It: Black Bodies/Christian Souls
  38. Gayraud S. Wilmore, Black Religion and Black Radicalism: An Interpretation
  39. Ida B. Wells, Southern Horrors and Other Writings: The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892-1900
  40. Raphael Warnock, The Divided Mind of the Black Church: Theology, Piety, and Public Witness

God is Black: An All Together Podcast Featuring Dr. James Cone

More #BlackChurchSyllabus

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