My Prophetic TraditionOctober 23, 2009 Leave a comment
In a March 2009 post in their now retired blog, Kitchen Table, Princeton’s Melissa Harris Lacewell (Professor of Politics and African American Studies) and Yolanda Pierce (Professor of Literature and African American Religion) engage in a conversation about the Black Church prophetic tradition. Other than the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. it is possible that the recent controversies surrounding the widely respected and widely reviled Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright have been the ways in which most Americans have even come close to truly understanding what this one of so many beloved contribution of African Americans to social justice, theology and Christianity is all about.
If you have interest in learning more about the Black Church prophetic tradition, of which I humbly strive to be a worthy legatee, I commend to you the brilliant work of Drs. C. Eric Lincoln and Larwence Mamiya, The Black Church in the African American Experience. (It is well known by those who Study Dr. King, that he always carried on his person three books: The Bible, The Constitution of the United States and Howard Thurman‘s Jesus and the Disinherited. If I had to choose just three, while the Bible would indeed rate, this one by Lincoln and Mamiya’s book would also likely make the cut).
In the last line of her post on the Black Prophetic tradition, Professor Pierce asks the question:
Melissa, I wonder what other voices we, and the Kitchen Table, can identify who merit a place in the prophetic tradition?
Neither black, nor of Her Church, and at 12 years, hardly old enough to be entrenched in any tradition, Seven Cullis-Suzuki clearly fits the bill of the prophetic. Check out her prophetic stylings at the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit:
For me, an “Amen!” goes right there.
And, I ask: Who are some of the prophetic voices, of your tradition or others, that embody prophetic sensibilities in social justice? Thoughts? Reactions?
I see the intensity, tenacity and provocative work of Fannie Lous Hamer and Oprah Winfrey. They are God-inspired the women. I often reflect on Freedmon Democrat Hamer’s famous 1968 Congressional testimony:
“Do you mean to tell me that your position is more important than four hundred thousand black people’s lives? Senator Humphrey, I know lots of people in Mississippi who have lost their jobs trying to register to vote. I had to leave the plantation where I worked in Sunflower County, Mississippi. Now if you lose this job of Vice-President because you do what is right, because you help the MFDP, everything will be all right. God will take care of you. But if you take [the nomination] this way, why, you will never be able to do any good for civil rights, for poor people, for peace, or any of those things you talk about. Senator Humphrey, I’m going to pray to Jesus for you.”
Oprah is creative genius beyond words and she has used her powers to unearth the causes of many including President Obama so her work makes my list. I think I would have to carry a Kindle that would include 1) the Bible, 2) Hamer’s “To Praise My Bridges: An Autobiography” and 3) an e-subscription to “O, The Oprah Magazine” somethings to consider for all time.
Wonderful post, Katherine. Your writing reminds me of the Proverb that states: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver”. Proverbs 25:11) Write on, sister, write on!