March 19, 1998
Vol. 17, No. 12

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    Cone's Black Theology and Black Power revisited

    First American conference on black religion in 20 years One of the most important, radical books about black religion -- Black Theology and Black Power by James Cone -- will be celebrated in a Divinity School conference that will bring together some of the biggest names in black theology, including the author himself. "Black Theology as Public Theology: From Retrospect to Prospect," the first American conference on black religion in 20 years, will be held Thursday, April 2, through Sunday, April 5, in Swift Hall.

    As part of the conference, Cone will give the University's Aims of Religion Address in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. Cone will speak at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 4, in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

    "You can't talk about the black church's relationship to God without talking about James Cone. He's central to black religion in America," said black religion scholar Dwight Hopkins, Associate Professor in the Divinity School and organizer of the conference.

    The conference will examine the impact of Black Theology and Black Power on American black society and the spiritual survival of the black community in the three decades since the book's publication.

    "The publication of Black Theology and Black Power was the first time that liberation for the poorest in society was interpreted to be the central message in the gospel," Hopkins said. "In the book, Cone said that churches may need to be concerned with the salvation of individuals, but the black church as a whole is not a Christian church if it does not concentrate on the structural liberation of poor communities.

    "And if that sounds radical now," Hopkins added, "think how radical it was when the book was published in 1969!"

    In addition to Cone and Hopkins, participants will include law scholar Stephen Carter; feminist theologian Rebecca Chop; political economist Manning Marable; social ethicist Emilie Townes; theologian David Tracy, the Andrew Thomas Greeley and Grace McNichols Greeley Distinguished Service Professor; public policy and religion scholar Rosemary Ruether; social critic Cornel West; and American religion scholar Gayraud Wilmore.

    The conference and Aims of Religion address are free and open to the public. For more information, call 702-7049.