Ta-Nehisi Coates is an atheist. But perhaps his atheism is precisely the kind that Christians in America need.
Jane Elizabeth Manning James, a black Mormon pioneer, was known to some Latter-day Saints historians in the latter part of the 20th century but was hardly a household name. Linda King Newell and Valerie Tippets Avery wrote the first well-researched article about Jane in LDS Church publication The Ensign. Subsequent Mormon authors focused on the early years of Jane’s life, particularly on founder Joseph Smith accepting her and her family into his home.
The musical The Book of Mormon portrays two naïve Mormon missionaries in Uganda proclaiming that “in 1978, God changed his mind about black people.” The joke isn’t mere whimsy; the LDS Church is widely perceived as racist. The irony is that had the church followed its initial trajectory, by now it likely would have become the most racially integrated and progressive church in America.
The good news: the U.S. will now have the highest number of African-American senators ever. The bad news: that number is two. Out of 100.
Paul Harvey's introduction to the history of African-American Christianity emphasizes both the fraught relationship between black and white Christians and the tensions within black religious institutions and communities.
It's been a while since pals Tavis Smiley and Cornel West took up the task of challenging President Obama from his left flank. The talk-show host and the philosopher have taken some heat for their criticism of the president, notably from political scientist Melissa Harris-Perry.
Katherine Clay Bassard's book on the use of scripture by African-American women writers begins with Balaam's ass and the Song of Songs. One is compelled to keep reading.
Amateurish historians often tell us that we must study the past to avoid repeating its mistakes. Such efforts rarely work out well. Laurie Maffly-Kipp, by contrast, offers an unusual, complex and thoughtful approach to history.