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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: December 2019

6 - Freedom Now! Civil Rights, Black Power, and Anticolonial Insurgencies, 1945–1976


Internal tensions within the ecclesiastical operations of African Methodism coexisted with the broad activism of African Methodist Episcopal members (AMEs) in civil rights, Black Power, and anticolonial insurgencies. The bishops and other clerical and lay leaders whose vocations focused on denominational affairs contrasted with militant ministers and members who defined African Methodism through a praxis that aimed at societal reconstruction in the United States and ending colonialism in Africa. The objectives of denominational governance, however, diverted attention away from energized opposition to hegemonic structures and practices that harmed AME constituencies. Though the maintenance of African Methodism as a proud and independent religious body remained as a worthwhile demonstration of black self-determination and institutional autonomy, this preoccupation caused some leaders to extend only perfunctory support to significant initiatives against white supremacy. Some clergy, however, balanced their immersion in denominational affairs with social activism. Such ministers similarly advocated significant reform within the AME Church to effect fiscal accountability and greater democracy in ecclesiastical governance.

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