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Abstract

Martin Luther King believed that the civil rights struggles of Blacks were in one sense importantly American but also part of a worldwide movement against colonialism. As King once noted, Black Power is “the cry of the unheard.” Such expressions of angst extend themselves beyond U.S. borders and thus characterize the existential crises of all [End Page 453] oppressed communities. Through this observation, King argues that this international perspective is the definition of Black Power and is a universal call for justice, which he engages as the transition from “thingification” to personhood. #BlackLivesMatter is the theopolitical demand for Black personhood, which we believe to be housed in King’s philosophy of Black Power. Using interpretations of oppression from Black and womanist theologies, this article provides a reconfiguration of King’s expansion of Black Power into global terrain and considers how this approach is timely, given the desensitization toward the killing of Black female and male bodies.

Keywords

#BlackLivesMatter, Martin Luther King, womanist theology, Black Power, Black nationalism

They were murdered: Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. Ezell Ford. Tamir Rice. Yvette Smith. John Crawford III. Shantel Davis. Aiyana Jones. Walter Scott. All Black Americans. All unarmed. All dead at the hands of police. The deaths of these and so many others, named and unnamed, nationally recognized and unrecognized, have prompted a reexamination of the criminal justice system from a perspective fixating upon American racism and dedicated to identifying not only the disparities found between Black and white but also the rationalizations allowing these disparities to continue to exist. The recent killings and routinized brutality against African Americans at the hands of law enforcement have reminded the world that lynching and death are a seemingly unshakable consequence of Blackness in America. In the public and scholarly discourses on American race relations and critical race theory, death has taken center stage. Further, many discourses on race ground a grassroots praxis that has given new life to African American political formation and expression.

The #BlackLivesMatter activist movement has arisen as one critical response to the predicament in which many Black women and men find themselves when encountering the police. While #BlackLivesMatter has galvanized important conversations concerning the role of religious, social, and political thought and its response to militaristic, deadly force against Black bodies, it seems inescapably trapped within conceptualizations of the political that exclude and altogether ignore the need to develop a philosophical anthropology of the human. Situating the political philosophy of the #BlackLivesMatter movement within a larger conversation on theological reflection and Black cultural criticism, this article attempts to address the limitations of the movement [End Page 454] imposed by its reactionary political ontology. We begin with a brief consideration of Kelly Brown Douglas’s and Martin Luther King’s theological formulations of personhood, particularly King’s concept of “somebodyness.”1 Our second section addresses the historiographic errors of #BlackLivesMatter as a way to highlight the misconceptions the movement has not only of Black nationalism but of the idea of Black Power itself. In the third section, we offer an account of Martin Luther King’s global humanism as a way to extend Black Power philosophy and correct the political theorizations currently assumed within the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Womanist Religious Thought and Martin Luther King Jr. on Black Bodies

Most Black religious scholars agree with the notion that the Black body is under siege. And while there are several ways of interpreting “body” theoretically and methodologically, we view the body as a material reality, biochemically constituted and socially constructed.2 Critical to our interpretation of “body” is how Black bodies are marked and characterized within American social relations with deadly consequences. Before we briefly discuss some theological interpretations of the contested nature of Black embodiment, it may be helpful to unpack how the body is theologically significant.

Theology may be interpreted as discourses premised upon reflection on embodied religious experience. To be sure, this is an expansive framing, particularly when we consider that theological discourse and study has been erroneously labeled a systematized discipline solely linked with the church.3 Interpreting theology as a deeply existential, materialized discourse allows for an inclusion of the body as a central component of what it means to do theology. Bodies are theologically significant because the body as a material reality serves as the conduit for deeper reflection on life meaning and purpose. The embodied character of human life and social relations provides the raw data for reflection on the nature of this life meaning and purpose, what Paul Tillich referred to as “ultimate concern,” the “meaning which gives meaning to all meanings.”4 Expanding the trajectory of theological discourse vests “mundane” features of human existence with theological import—rendering the body a source material for theological reflection.5

The body has typically been viewed with fear, scorn, and suspicion from antiquity into the present day.6 For obvious reasons, such dismissals of the body have yielded severe consequences for the experiences of African Americans. Within a cultural context premised on, at best, an uneasiness with human bodies, [End Page 455] Black bodies in particular have been under attack given the pervasiveness of white supremacy, which we define as the dominance and privileging of whiteness within social, political, religious, and economic institutions. Black theologians have been forthright in reconfiguring this truncated articulation of Black bodies by identifying the interstices of white supremacy vis-à-vis constructions of whiteness as the norm. James Cone links the crucifixion of Jesus with the lynching of Black bodies—offering a critique of American Christianity and its palpable ignorance of the racist character of its theologies.7 Dwight Hopkins has examined the triangular relation between the Black male body’s construction as a dark menace, the perceived threat to white womanhood, and the white nation-state.8 In Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, Kelly Brown Douglas argues that Black bodies are deemed “guilty bodies” in American religious thought through a deadly discursive and sociopolitical regime premised on the narrative of (white) Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism and the lauding of white bodies and white spaces as “cherished property.”9

Per Douglas, the narrative of America’s self-imposed sense of exceptionalism premised on its Anglo-Saxon lineage served as a “sacred canopy” that further legitimated America’s right to serve as vessel for God’s activity and interpreted Anglo-Saxonism “as if it were a historical divine incarnation.”10 In sum, white bodies were linked collectively with divinity, effectively deifying whiteness. This religious and social framework ranked human bodies along a continuum and eventually served as a cultural protocol that confirmed white bodies—and the physical locations and spaces white bodies inhabit—as cherished property. Trayvon Martin, a Black body, and all the other Black bodies suffering from stand-your-ground culture are casualties not of law enforcement in itself, but of an insidious culture of white spatial entitlement, geographical containment, and the protection of white space. From a theological standpoint, Black bodies disrupt, and in some cases rupture, the supposed ontological divinity of white bodies and white spaces—whiteness-as-God.11

King’s theology of somebodyness counters the “sacred canopies” of white supremacy’s castigation of Blacks as inferior and, further, situates Black life as significant and meaningful.12 While King does not explicitly address embodiment as material reality, his belief in the worth and dignity of Black people, which can be traced to the capacity of the imago dei, or image of God, to reflect the great diversity of human life, seems to advocate for the import of Black embodiment. In King’s view, the imago dei is the source of Black women and men’s ontological and existential significance.13 The dignity of Black personality, rooted in the image and personality of God, [End Page 456] offers an apology for Black people’s personhood. King’s theology of somebodyness also provides useful insights within the larger debate surrounding #BlackLivesMatter: Black life is not expendable. Black bodies are valuable bodies, and for American judicial, legislative, political, and criminal justice institutions to act in opposition ultimately undermines America’s democratic ethos and exposes it as fraudulent. The somebodyness of Black lives and bodies was a central piece of King’s political platform, for it centralized the uplift and improvement of life options through a “radical restructuring of the [racial] architecture of American society.”14 We may say, then, that King’s political ideology, fed by an unrelenting belief in the fullness of Black personhood, was built on the idea that Black bodies indeed mattered. The improvement of the life options of Black bodies, however, should not be viewed as the sole dimension or final trajectory of King’s thought.

In Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, King discussed the “world house,” an ecumenical vision of life in which the “inhabitants of the globe are now neighbors.”15 This view outlines a special component of the global and radically democratic scope of King’s theological and political insights beyond American borders. King was able to recognize that the cry for freedom was a constant across human history and that it was incumbent on Blacks in the United States to link their struggles with downtrodden nations in Africa, Asia, South America, and the Caribbean.16 Black liberation and womanist theologians have drawn on the globalized dimension of King’s thought in an effort to strengthen the ties between diverse religious and theological responses to regimes of brutality and dehumanization against Black and brown bodies. For example, the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT) is an international network of liberation theologians that specifically engages the theological implications from issues of race, indigenous peoples, third world women, and interfaith collaboration.17 These theologians extend King’s perspectives by linking the experiences of Black women and men in the United States to those of other races and perspectives in other nations and regions. In providing an internationally based theological response to other schemes of violence against Black and brown peoples, whether through unequal healthcare access or economic disenfranchisement under free market capitalism, EATWOT’s network of theologians exemplifies a focused extension of the global impact of King’s theology of somebodyness on other cultural landscapes. While not intended to be exhaustive, our attention to the wider implications of King’s thought here is meant to indicate some of the progress made and also to illustrate some areas that provide fertile ground for more study on the intersection between theological discourses and the response to state-sanctioned violence against minority communities. [End Page 457]

In the theologies of Kelly Brown Douglas and Martin Luther King Jr., there is a concerted push for a new conception of Black humanity and Black bodies over against white supremacy. There is radicality in such an approach toward the affirmation of Blackness and Black humanity within the context of white American racism—for Black humanity is still a relatively new concept.18 We now wish to consider some implications of King’s interpretation of Black embodiment within the context of Black Power ideology. The remaining portion of this article will offer some insights about King’s journey toward Black Power as a means of addressing his convictions about the affirmation and worth of Black bodies and, further, will discuss these insights within the context of #BlackLivesMatter.

Beyond the Reactionary Assertion: Black Lives and Black Power

What does it mean to proclaim you exist as more than the pigment of the white world’s imagination? The murder of Black people, specifically Black men such as Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Eric Garner, has galvanized the world against the use and reach of a growing militaristic police force in America. #BlackLivesMatter has become the chant of change, a call for Black citizens to be recognized as human beings rather than disposable bodies. The American variant of #BlackLivesMatter has been decidedly reactionary, preferring to declare its nonviolent and intersectional politics (its Black feminism and progressivism) as a necessary distancing from a decadent Black Power and armed self-defense politics originating in the late 1960s and early 1970s.19 The debate over the extent to which #BlackLivesMatter, as a transformative movement, needs the Black Panther Party’s paradigmatic focus on economic empowerment, or is a continuation of the resistance associated with unfinished revolution symbolized by Black Power, allows the people of our current moment to place this twenty-first-century call for civil rights along the timeline of history. However, such a question is not the full archive of Black intellectual thought through which the movement should be understood, nor is it particularly relevant to the actual success of the endeavor.20 In fact, such debates hashed out on blogs and social media sites like Twitter or Facebook are quite limiting. They exist as little more than the impressions young students have of the world, rather than a systemic analysis of the structural obfuscations to Black life that are thought to be remedied by Black democratic assertions. Black Power was not only cultivated by the disdain of Stokely Carmichael in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the demands of the Black [End Page 458] Panther Party’s Ten-Point Program. Black Power claimed a new humanity and described how the present order of technology, racism, economic exploitation, and militarism tarnished Black humanity. Black Power called for justice and insisted on love. It was in fact the guiding philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King during the 1960s. The ideological binary between violence and nonviolence, manhood and womanhood, that saturates the contemporary conversations over Black resistance cannot continue to determine the intellectual parameters of Black scholars. The religious-political-historical demand for a new humanism is in fact Black life.

For North American students turned activists, #BlackLivesMatter is a call for an engaged politics—“an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.”21 For many #BlackLivesMatter activists, the call to value Black life begins with the decentering of Black male political presence, a political program aimed at distancing itself from the Black nationalism of the 1970s. As Alice Garza says of the movement: “It goes beyond the narrow nationalism that can be prevalent within some Black communities, which merely call on Black people to love Black, live Black and buy Black, keeping straight cis Black men in the front of the movement while our sisters, queer and trans and disabled folk take up roles in the background or not at all.”22 This history of Black politics and nationalism offered by #BlackLivesMatter activists, however, is largely an exercise of fiction, as it privileges a specific Black feminist historiography originating in Michelle Wallace’s The Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman—a work long refuted by Black historians for neglecting the issues at the core of anti-Black violence.23 Furthermore, such historiography is uniquely American, representing the disciplinary reactions of the elite few rather than the sentiment of the Black many. It is an attempt of the academy to capture the faith and resistance of the Black masses—their fear and anxiety—under their disciplinary categories.

Citizens throughout the world stand with America, not because the movement is intersectional but because the movement responds to the challenges that human communities endure in a modern society plagued by draconian police states and governments that do not guarantee the freedom of their citizens. Citizens of Paris, Melbourne, Toyko, and Hannover do not empathize with the idiosyncratic historiography of the Black Power movement over gender; they empathize with the human struggle for freedom symbolized by the Black struggle from the period of slavery to our contemporary moment—a struggle they see in their own societies.24 Under our present paradigms (be they nationalist or intersectional), no discourse or theory connects the [End Page 459] foundations of Black oppression and death in America with the postcolonial movements and protests against state violence, globalization, and poverty the world over.

King’s Philosophy of Black Power toward a Global Humanism

Black Power erupted from the breast of Stokely Carmichael in June 1966 during the Meredith March against Fear protest in Greenwood, Mississippi.25 Carmichael insisted that Black Power, not Freedom Now, was necessary for Black liberation. The nonviolence of King aligned too closely to the conscience of liberal whites for Carmichael; nonviolence allowed law-abiding Black citizens like James Meredith to be murdered, beaten, and imprisoned for demanding their rights. Blacks were forced to suffer and hope for white compassion. This made Blacks dependent on whites for their freedom and impotent to determine their own ends politically and culturally. Carmichael was adamant that “this country knows what power is. It knows it very well. And it knows what Black Power is ’cause it deprived Black people of it for four hundred years. So it knows what Black Power is.”26 It is whites’ fear of Blacks—that is, the immediate call and willingness of Black people to act—that signifies violence for white Americans.

Carmichael’s call for Black Power was a radical shift in the civil rights paradigm. Black Power broke with the idea that whites were necessary for the liberation of Black people. As Carmichael notes, “The concept of Black Power rests on a fundamental premise: Before a group can enter the open society, it must first close ranks. … [G]roup solidarity is necessary before a group can operate effectively from a bargaining position of strength in a pluralistic society.”27 In an interview with Lerone Bennett, Carmichael says Black Power demands that “(1) [Black people] stop being ashamed of being Black; (2) that they move into a position where they can define what freedom is, what a white liberal is, what Black nationalism is, what power is; (3) that they move to build a power base around the question of Blackness; (4) that they move to build independent political, social, economic, and cultural institutions that they can control and use as instruments of social change.”28

Whereas Carmichael believed Black Power was the creation of a new order of values, King was much more reticent to accept Carmichael’s break with the nonviolent program of SNCC. While he did not publicly criticize Carmichael’s call for Black Power, he nonetheless opposed the newly coined philosophy. In private correspondence with his staff King argued that Black Power “was [End Page 460] born from the womb of despair and disappointment … a cry of pain … a reaction to the failure of White Power to deliver the promises and to do it in a hurry … disruption for disruption’s sake.”29 In his public declarations, on the other hand, he insisted:

The anger of many Negroes has driven them to passive cynicism toward society, for others it has exploded in violence. These irrational reactions cannot be met by pious lectures. The only just and moral response from the larger society is that the conditions were created by men and can be removed by men. It is not the Negro who is on trial, but white society, because it alone has power. In fact, “Black Power” is a reaction to the abuses of white power. The Negro is not moving too fast, he is barely moving. It is white society that is static at a time when social change is imperative.30

King’s public pronouncements were surprisingly much more in line with his eventual views on Black Power. King’s political philosophy demanded the Black public look to the world for its struggle—to understand that their present here and now was a shared present for all oppressed people around the world. The worldly, internationalist perspective that King espouses is perhaps one reason why, as Alex Lubin notes, King was adamant that Black Power supporters not mistakenly equate Zionism with racism. An ardent advocate of African American–Jewish unity, King saw strength in the political formation of oppressed communities with shared interests and concerns.31 King was therefore suspicious of programs of separatism—hence his initial reaction to Black Power, which retreated into fixed identities that obscured Black Americans’ connection to the suffering of oppressed people the world over.

As King asserts in Where Do We Go From Here?, “In one sense the civil rights movement in the United States is a special American phenomenon which must be understood in the light of American history and dealt with in terms of the American situation. But on another and more important level, what is happening in the United States today is a significant part of a world development.”32 This insight came from a deeply held belief in the possibility of human struggle. King did not believe any people could stay oppressed forever. Similarly, #BlackLivesMatter represents the energy to challenge and reorient the values of the world that make Black peoples, oppressed peoples, and economically exploited peoples the things of history rather than persons and subjects within history. Our American consciousness, the inherited ethno-geocentrism of the West, permits us to forget that we are being watched by others. Our dilemmas [End Page 461] are shared. Our challenge to racism is shared. Rather than being our Black struggle against death, #BlackLivesMatter should be a sign of the interdependent problems solidified by neocolonialism and the struggle of empires to maintain their power and hold populations under their control.

King understood that racism, the making of Black persons into things, was not confined to the geography of America. Racism was not simply the practices of the police or the state. King was adamant that “racism is no mere American phenomenon. Its vicious grasp knows no geographical boundaries. In fact, racism and its perennial ally—economic exploitation—provide the key to understanding most of the international complications of this generation.”33 This worldwide focus provides the conceptual alluvium upon which King’s revolution of values—“All men are interdependent. Every nation is an heir of a vast treasury of ideas and labor to which both the living and the dead of all nations have contributed”—can grow.34 The conceptual changes of America, the sense by which one becomes a person through struggle against the racism, economic exploitation, and militarism of the present order, create a transformation, not of the politics advocated but of the human seeking to be realized in the world. This is what connects Paris, New York, Berkeley, and Toyko to Blackness—the striving for humanity to be realized beyond our present order.35 Despite King’s actual philosophy of human rights and colonialism, he is rarely considered as a resource for theorizing racism beyond the American civil rights struggle.36 Thomas Mulhall’s A Lasting Prophetic Legacy: Martin Luther King Jr., the World Council of Churches, and the Global Crusade against Racism and War and Lewis V. Baldwin’s Toward the Beloved Community: Martin Luther King, Jr., and South Africa both contend that King’s legacy is constrained because it remains understood only in terms of American race relations.37 King’s influence across Europe, Africa, and Asia is not only erased but negated because he is thought of only as a Black American and not as an Africana or diasporic thinker who connected the struggles of Black Americans to African, Latin American, and Asian peoples globally.

Even today, when King’s ideas have influenced so many across the world and continue to inspire aesthetic resistance, political thinking, and religious secularism, Americans remain blind to his global resonance. In 2011, the protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square held revolutionary literature in their hands—an Arabic translation of a comic book entitled “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story.” The comic was translated by a young woman named Dalia Ziada to serve as a primer for Egyptian students in the Montgomery method and King’s philosophy of nonviolence.38 In Nigeria, King’s philosophy of nonviolence is used to express the country’s need for violence-free elections and the formalization of the democratic process.39 In Palestine, protests and civil demonstrations are framed through King’s dedication to [End Page 462] nonviolence.40 According to Howard Malchow, even the riots and debates over rights, economics, and political violence in the United Kingdom are interpreted through the philosophy of King and his debates with Black Power advocates and the Black Panther Party.41

King’s impact is also evident on the artistic palette of artist-activists who use their talents to connect the struggles of their respective communities to more expansive critiques of oppression. The poetry of Jordanian-born poet Suheir Hammad, for example, draws on her experiences as a woman, Muslim, and Palestinian to highlight the complexities of gender, ethnicity, and religion in a post-9/11 context. Hammad gives voice to King’s internationalist perspective by articulating a sense of communality with other peoples of color who suffer the burdens of white male supremacy.42 Throughout the world, King is associated with the force of moral demands for the respect of people’s humanity, personhood, and sacredness. Ironically, in America, where he is historicized based on his racialization, King is reduced to narrow political frameworks oscillating between nationalism and passivism. This shortcoming constrains not only how Americans see King, but how Black Americans interpret and apply his philosophy to contemporary struggles engaged with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Toward the end of his life, King recognized that the need for Black solidarity and independence did not need to trade off with the transcendental aim of a global and shared ethical humanity. King recognized the need to reach the conscience of the people—to appeal to the shared sentiments of the oppressed, who aimed for freedom from the constraints of neocolonialism. He also recognized that such goals were arrested through the use of violence. While King acknowledged that the aim of Frantz Fanon’s call for revolutionary violence was the creation of a new humanism, King was wary of Fanon’s faith that violence could actualize such a grand idea. King maintained that “the new humanism is written into the objectives and methods of the struggle.”43 For King, this ethical demand exposed a contradiction in Fanon’s program, which sought “to work out new concepts” and “set afoot a new man” by “imitat[ing] old concepts of violence.”44 While the Black Power movement emerged as a new call for Black self-respect, it imitated the strategies of old. As King said, “Humanity is waiting for something other than blind imitation of the past. If we want truly to advance a step further, if we want to turn over a new leaf and really set a new man afoot, we must begin to turn mankind away from the long and desolate night of violence.”45 This realization became the impetus behind King’s redefinition of Black Power. King knew that in order to succeed, Black Power had to reject the long-held division between power and love, which was understood as weakness. Contrary to Carmichael, King did not see power as simply the ability to actualize an act. Rather, for King, [End Page 463]

Power, properly understood, is the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political or economic changes. In this sense power is not only desirable but necessary in order to implement the demands of love and justice. One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love.46

Power is needed, but this power, the ability for change, must not come at the expense of love, the sentiment and acuity necessary to guide it toward its ends. It must not become defined by the limits of its time or the resentment beneath the politics of its day. “What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”47 Power is thereby an exerted moral force that brings about political change and realizes the aims and ends of justice. Black Power then names the means by which the humanity of Black people guides the psychology and moral conscience of political change at large. Black Power for King, rather than simply being discontent, is the shared expression of this force among Black people. It is their ability to realize justice which is guided and directed by love—a capacity that reaches beyond mere self-interest or race agenda. King offers us a notion of Black Power which expresses as a principle that Black political struggle mirrors the transcendental value God bestowed upon the human.

Conclusion

As it currently stands, #BlackLivesMatter remains confined to the physical and conceptual geography of the American nation-state. While the movement has the potential to be the continuation of King’s unfinished revolution, it must expand its concept of the self beyond the sociopolitical idea of the citizen toward a more expansive reformulation of the human. It must reach beyond empire toward the diaspora and the suffering the world feels—the cries of empathy the world expresses in response to the extinguishing of Black life. Currently, #BlackLivesMatter is an assertion that Black life is opposed to Black death, but the movement has yet to formulate principles that articulate an understanding of the conditions necessary for Blacks to live full social, political, and communal lives in America. This is where King’s theory of Black Power can be instructive. As King’s thinking demonstrates, peaceful (nonviolent) calls for justice can be Black Power, but this requires jettisoning a political [End Page 464] movement’s identity politics for a reformulation—a philosophical and anthropological interpretation of humanity itself. The person must be the means through which revolution is waged. The person cannot be expected to emerge through struggle and achieve recognition from those entities that deny the humanity of Blacks and other oppressed people. King understood that humanity is transcendental; it is the ideal that drives struggle. It exists simultaneously as form and substance, a symbiotic relationship between the divine and the mortal.

To proclaim that Black life is, that a melaninated person is here and stands before the world as human, is to proclaim that somebodyness is global and shared among all humans. In recognizing this quality from God within the flesh of the other, King demands that God’s law supersede that of the profit-driven world that makes humans into things rather than cultivating them as persons. To recognize this global interdependence requires Black Americans to develop a desegregated mind, a mind convinced of its existence unshackled from the history of slavery and free enough to imagine itself beyond the confines of its former colony. It is, as King says, “the refusal to be ashamed of being black. [What] our children must be taught is to stand tall with their heads proudly lifted.”48 The world is watching, so we must ask ourselves whether this twenty-first-century movement will produce a new being or simply remain the antagonistic political assertion of bourgeois mythology to a long-gone era of Black Power thought to haunt this generation’s activism. Just as King’s life inspired Africa and his death birthed Leopold Senghor’s “Elegy for Martin Luther King,” so the lives and deaths of Black Americans have been seen by the world and inspired the #BlackLivesMatter movement.49 The question now is whether Black Americans will gaze beyond their borders or remained confined to the geography of their oppression.

Darrius D. Hills
Rice University
Tommy J. Curry
Texas A&M University

Notes

1. Kelly Brown Douglas represents womanist theology and religious thought. For more information on womanist religious thought, including theology and ethics, see Stephanie Y. Mitchem, Introducing Womanist Theology (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2002); and Katie Cannon, Emilie M. Townes, and Angela D. Sims, eds., Womanist Theological Ethics: A Reader (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 2011).

2. For more insights on the varied vantage points of theories of embodiment, see Donn Welton, ed., The Body: Classic and Contemporary Readings (Malden: Blackwell, 1999); and Welton, ed., Body and Flesh: A Philosophical Reader (Malden: Blackwell, 1998).

3. Paul Tillich, Theology of Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959), 112–13.

4. Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1952). [End Page 465]

5. See Anthony Pinn, The End of God-Talk: An African American Humanist Theology (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), ch. 1.

6. James B. Nelson, Body Theology (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox, 1992), 9.

7. James Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2013).

8. Dwight N. Hopkins, “The Construction of the Black Male Body: Eroticism and Religion,” in Loving the Body: Black Religious Studies and the Erotic, ed. Anthony N. Pinn and Dwight N. Hopkins (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).

9. Kelly Brown Douglas, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2015), 23–44.

10. Ibid., 26.

11. For more on the ontological distinctions of whiteness-as-God, see Christopher Driscoll’s White Lies: Race and Uncertainty in the Twilight of American Religion (New York: Routledge, 2015).

12. Douglas, Stand Your Ground, 34.

14. Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (Boston: Beacon, 1968), 132.

15. Ibid., 167.

16. Ibid., 170.

17. Dwight N. Hopkins, Heart and Head: Black Theology—Past, Present, and Future (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), 109–10.

18. Cornel West, Prophesy Deliverance! An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity (Louisville. Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 2002), 47.

19. Alice Garza, “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement,” The Feminist Wire, October 7, 2014, http://thefeministwire.com/2014/10/blacklivesmatter-2/.

20. See Kevin Zeese, “Black Power to Black Lives Matter,” Popular Resistance, January 27, 2015, https://www.popularresistance.org/black-power-to-black-lives-matter/; and Deena Guzder, “Black Lives Matter Needs the Black Panthers,” Aljazeera America, February 28, 2015, http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/2/black-lives-matter-needs-the-black-panthers.html.

21. Garza, “Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement.”

22. Ibid.

23. Black historians have long problematized the narrative of civil rights and Black Power offered by popular Black feminist historiography. In “The Lessons of History Will Shape the 1980’s—The Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman Won’t,” Encore American and Worldwide News, March 19, 1979, 50–51, Paula Giddings argues that Black men and Black women have always engaged in complementarian politics. Her essay, published forty years ago, is in line with current Black Power studies scholarship such as Linda Lumsden, “Good Mothers with Guns: Framing Black Womanhood in the Black Panther, 1968–1980,” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 86, no. 4 (2009): 900–22; and Steve Estes, Race, Manhood, and the Civil Rights Movement (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005). These [End Page 466] works show not only that Black civil rights and Black Power movements were inclusive, but that they provided the only outlet of the time for Black women to challenge sexism within a revolutionary movement.

Black historians have long problematized the narrative of civil rights and Black Power offered by popular Black feminist historiography. In “The Lessons of History Will Shape the 1980’s—The Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman Won’t,” Encore American and Worldwide News, March 19, 1979, 50–51, Paula Giddings argues that Black men and Black women have always engaged in complementarian politics. Her essay, published forty years ago, is in line with current Black Power studies scholarship such as Linda Lumsden, “Good Mothers with Guns: Framing Black Womanhood in the Black Panther, 1968–1980,” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 86, no. 4 (2009): 900–22; and Steve Estes, Race, Manhood, and the Civil Rights Movement (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005). These [End Page 466] works show not only that Black civil rights and Black Power movements were inclusive, but that they provided the only outlet of the time for Black women to challenge sexism within a revolutionary movement.

Black historians have long problematized the narrative of civil rights and Black Power offered by popular Black feminist historiography. In “The Lessons of History Will Shape the 1980’s—The Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman Won’t,” Encore American and Worldwide News, March 19, 1979, 50–51, Paula Giddings argues that Black men and Black women have always engaged in complementarian politics. Her essay, published forty years ago, is in line with current Black Power studies scholarship such as Linda Lumsden, “Good Mothers with Guns: Framing Black Womanhood in the Black Panther, 1968–1980,” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 86, no. 4 (2009): 900–22; and Steve Estes, Race, Manhood, and the Civil Rights Movement (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005). These [End Page 466] works show not only that Black civil rights and Black Power movements were inclusive, but that they provided the only outlet of the time for Black women to challenge sexism within a revolutionary movement.

Black historians have long problematized the narrative of civil rights and Black Power offered by popular Black feminist historiography. In “The Lessons of History Will Shape the 1980’s—The Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman Won’t,” Encore American and Worldwide News, March 19, 1979, 50–51, Paula Giddings argues that Black men and Black women have always engaged in complementarian politics. Her essay, published forty years ago, is in line with current Black Power studies scholarship such as Linda Lumsden, “Good Mothers with Guns: Framing Black Womanhood in the Black Panther, 1968–1980,” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 86, no. 4 (2009): 900–22; and Steve Estes, Race, Manhood, and the Civil Rights Movement (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005). These [End Page 466] works show not only that Black civil rights and Black Power movements were inclusive, but that they provided the only outlet of the time for Black women to challenge sexism within a revolutionary movement.

24. Tom McKay, “27 Stunning Photos of #BlackLivesMatter Protests from around the Globe,” World.Mic, December 7, 2014, http://mic.com/articles/105882/27-stunning-photos-of-black-lives-matter-protests-from-around-the-globe.

25. See Charles E. Cobb Jr., “From Stokely Carmichael to Kwame Ture,” Callaloo 34, no. 1 (2001): 89–97.

26. Stokely Carmichael, “Berkeley Speech,” in Stokely Speaks: From Black Power to PanAfricanism (Chicago: Chicago Review, 2007), 45–60, 57.

27. Kwame Ture and Charles Hamilton, Black Power: The Politics of Liberation (New York: Vintage Books, 1992), 44.

28. Lerone Bennett Jr., “Stokely Carmichael: Architect of Black Power,” Ebony, September 1966, 25–32, 28.

29. Martin Luther King Jr., “Frogmore Speech,” November 16, 1966, quoted in Lance Hill, Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 250.

30. Martin Luther King Jr., “Statement on Black Power to Southern Christian Leadership Conference,” October 14, 1966.

31. Alex Lubin, Geographies of Liberation: The Making of an Afro-Arab Political Imaginary (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014), 5–6.

32. Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (Boston: Beacon, 2010), 179.

33. Ibid., 183.

34. Ibid., 191.

35. See Baye McNeil, “African-American Community Get Voice in Tokyo,” Japan Times, January 14, 2015, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/01/14/our-lives/african-american-community-gets-voice-tokyo.

See Baye McNeil, “African-American Community Get Voice in Tokyo,” Japan Times, January 14, 2015, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/01/14/our-lives/african-american-community-gets-voice-tokyo.

See Baye McNeil, “African-American Community Get Voice in Tokyo,” Japan Times, January 14, 2015, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/01/14/our-lives/african-american-community-gets-voice-tokyo.

36. Henry J. Richardson, “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as an International Human Rights Leader,” Villanova Law Review 52 (2007): 471–85.

37. See Thomas Muhall, A Lasting Prophetic Legacy: Martin Luther King Jr., the World Council of Churches, and the Global Crusade against Racism and War (Eugene, Ore.: Wipf and Stock, 2014); and Lewis V. Baldwin, Toward the Beloved Community: Martin Luther King, Jr., and South Africa (Cleveland: Pilgrim, 1995).

38. Sylvia Rhor, “Comic Heroes of the Egyptian Revolution: How Martin Luther King Found His Way to Tahrir Square,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 20, 2011, http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2011/02/20/Comic-heroes-of-the-Egyptian-revolution-How-Martin-Luther-King-found-his-way-to-Tahrir-Square/stories/201102200165.

39. “Oritsejafor, Others Urge Nigerians to Imbibe Spirit of Martin Luther King,” Vanguard, March 10, 2015, http://www.vanguardngr.com/2015/03/oritsejafor-others-urge-nigerians-to-imbibe-spirit-of-martin-luther-king/.

40. Phillip Weiss, “MLK Would Have Supported Palestinian Protest Movement,” Mercury News, January 22, 2013, http://mondoweiss.net/2013/01/supported-palestinian-movement.

41. Howard Malchow, Special Relations: The Americanization of Britain? (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2011).

42. Christopher Brown, “Interview with Suheir Hammad,” The Electronic Intifada, June 8, 2006, http://electronicintifada.net/content/interview-suheir-hammad/6013.

43. Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove, 2004), 178.

44. King, Where Do We Go from Here, 68.

45. Ibid.

46. Ibid., 37.

47. Ibid., 38.

48. Ibid., 130–31.

49. Leopold Senghor, “Elegy for Martin Luther King,” Phylon 36, no. 3 (1975): 352–58. [End Page 469]

Additional Information

ISSN
2165-5413
Print ISSN
2165-5405
Pages
453-469
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-12
Open Access
No
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