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