Reflections on the History of the Society for the Study of Black Religion featuring Lawrence N. Jones (video)

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Address: Lawrence N. Jones, Reflections on the Ten Year History of SSBR, and a status report

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Society for the Study of Black Religion Collection

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Gyraud Wilmore introduces speaker Lawrence N. Jones (dean of Howard University School of Divinity) as audience members including James and Cecil Cone and Charles Shelby Rooks listen. Jones gives reflections on the history of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. He describes how the Society was born in the turbulent environment after World War II through a detail of events. The events include Willie Ricks “Black power” chant in Greenwood Mississippi in the march on Selma, the founding of the National Committee of Black Churchmen, the Black Declaration of Independence, the Rockefeller brothers support for the Fund for Theological education and the 1970 meeting at the Interdenominational Theological Center. Jones highlights the importance of the theological activity of ITC during the time. Charles Shelby Brooks along with others in the audience contend it was the meeting at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta where the Society for the Study of Black Religion was first conceived.

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00:00:24 Gyraud Wilmore welcomes attendees to the 10th annual meeting of SSBR. Introduces Lawrence N. Jones dean of Howard University Divinity School.

00:03:47 Lawrence Jones outlines his presentation.

00:05:48 Talks about the turbulent times when the society came into existence.

00:06:13 Begins talking about the period beginning with World War II because he believes the matrix the SSBR grew out of had its origins in the period immediately following World War II.

00:08:13 Talks about the crisis in the cities during the middle sixties.

00:08:45 Talks about a decisive occurrence when the march on Selma stopped in Greenwood Mississippi and Willie Ricks stood on platform and began to shout Black power defying Martin Luther King Jr. who had decided the Black power chant would not be prominent within the march. This triggered a rapid and affirmative response in the urban north.

00:09:53 Talks about within the context of Black power movement that Ben Tate (National Council of Churches) and others devised the Black power statement in 1966 which tried to address Black power and its relationship to the Christian Faith.

00:10:40 Talks about the founding of the NCBC (National Committee of Black Churchmen) and the theological commission (Gyraud Wilmore and Preston Williams were leaders).

00:13:46 Talks about July 4, 1970 the Black declaration of independence at the statue of liberty and the Rockefeller brothers inaugurated their Black doctoral program to fund theological education for Blacks.

00:15:41 Talks about how NCBC with president Williams in the chair on April 1-13 1970 held a Black Theology consultation at the Interdenominational Theological Center.

00:16:32 Talks of how much went on at ITC during the period and how ITC was a place where most African American Religious scholars had hoped the Black power theological movement would come into a coherence and that ITC would provide institutional base for movement.

00:23:05 Talks about the formal forming of SSBR taking place in October 1972 on the east Hudson River at the Sheridan and reads purposes of the society.

00:40:41 Talks about the continuing question for White schools as to how they would deal with Black students and studies.

00:46:44 Talks about one of the severe lacks in the African American scholarship enterprise is the inability to synthesize and have not been able to put their scholarship within the framework of the universal human experience.

00:48:51 Makes a personal appeal and talks about his desire for scholars who are committed to excellence, passion for the truth, deep commitment to Black religious experience and its institutions.

00:53:10 Questions and comments from the audience.

00:53:33 Counterclaim regarding the city (location) where SSBR was formed. Charles Shelby Rooks claims the society was established in Atlanta at the Interdenominational Theological Center and not New York.

01:03:07 Video ends.


The Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library acknowledges the generous support of the National Endowment for Humanities - Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Implementation Project Grant in supporting the processing and digitization of a number of its major archival collections as part of the project: Spreading the Word: Expanding Access to African American Religious Archival Collections at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library.


All video content in this collection is protected by copyright or is the property of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc., and/or the copyright holder as appropriate. For more information or to inquire about permission to publish, please contact archives@auctr.edu.



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