"What may be called the liberation tradition in black religion also begins with a determination to survive, but because it is exterior rather than primarily interior (and for that reason it’s carriers find more space in which to maneuver) it goes beyond strategies of sheer survival to strategies of elevation — from “make do” to “must do more” both strategies are basic to Afro-American life and culture."
- Gayraud Wilmore
VOTING AND BLACK FAITH
Rather than accept a religion used as an instrument of social control, Black people developed their own leadership and reformed religion that resulted in the Black church. Historically the Black church, other than the Black family, is known to be the most significant social institution in our communities. It’s a place we gather and pray, provide resources and a platform for political engagement.
During the 19th century clergymen such as Rev. Reverdy Ransom, J. Milton Waldron and Bishop Henry McNeal Turner mobilized from the pulpit to the pews preaching liberation and building a strong foundation to affect change and produce a significant Black political base. Others such as Reverend Hiram Revels and Reverend Richard H. Cain would go from the pulpit to become politicians, due to the mobilization of thousands of former enslaved who had been registered to vote.
In spite of continued disenfranchisement and the ratification of Jim Crow, through the mobilization of the Black church and its leaders emerged organizations such as the NAACP, National Urban League, Black labor unions, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the Southern Christian leadership conference, a political arm of the Black church.
Through these organizations, with the support of the Black church, the fight for civil and voting rights has proven to be successful to date.
In spite of repetitive acts of violence by white supremacist, restrictive Black codes and electoral obstacles, to disenfranchise Black voters, the church has been and continues to be the main arena for Black political action.