Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

Degree Name


African American Studies, Africana Women's Studies, and History

First Advisor

Stephanie Y. Evans, Ph.D


This dissertation examines a need for black theology and its impact on social activism in the theological community in the United States. Black theology is a necessary component in the work of a theologian. In this research, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.'s social activism is examined within the context of black theology. Based on this study, black theology provides a theological framework for theologians to follow to become social agents in their community.

In the 1960s, a group of radical, African-American clergy interpreted Christianity from the black American struggle perspective as it relates to freedom in America. Black theology includes three contexts: "the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, largely associated with Martin Luther King, Jr.; the publication of Joseph Washington's book, Black Religion (1964); and the rise of the Black Power movement, strongly influenced by Malcolm X's philosophy of black nationalism."1

An examination of the theology of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., provides evidence that black theology is a viable theology of liberation in the work of social activism. A growing number of theologians are subscribing to prosperity theology. The most popular venues that subscribe to prosperity theology are megachurches.2 Prosperity theology is associated with the following:

First, God grants all his faithful followers physical health and financial prosperity; second, believers claim their divine right to wealth and health through positive confession, financial offerings; third, the persistent faith that God must fulfill his promises exists; and fourth, faith preachers often teach that God can only release his gifts when human beings fully submit to his will, even when the demanded course of action contradicts secular logic.3

If more African-American theologians subscribe to black theology, pastors and their congregants would be in a better position to advocate for their rights and for the rights of others. Ultimately, this research will prompt African-American theologians to revisit black theology and to use it in their work as an instrument of social protest.

Signature Location_Supplemental file.pdf (45 kB)
Notice to Users, Transmittal and Statement of Understanding