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Authentically Black and Truly CatholicThe Rise of Black Catholicism in the Great Migration$
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Matthew J. Cressler

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479841325

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479841325.001.0001

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Becoming Black Catholics

Becoming Black Catholics

The Black Catholic Movement and the Rise of Black Catholicism

(p.152) 5 Becoming Black Catholics
Authentically Black and Truly Catholic

Matthew J. Cressler

NYU Press

This chapter illustrates how Fr. George Clements creatively combined Black Power with the methods of early-twentieth-century missionaries with great success in his pastorate at Holy Angels parish. It examines the relationships Clements forged with other Black Power organizations and explores the life of Holy Angels Catholic school. It expands the scope of the story from the previous chapter and discusses the establishment of national Black Catholic institutions and organizations. Ultimately, it argues that, faced with opposition from fellow Black Catholics who resisted the influence of Black Power, activists became missionaries of a sort as they worked to convert their coreligionists to a particular understanding of what it meant to be Black and Catholic. They brought to life a distinctively Black Catholicism in the process. It devotes attention to what activists meant by “authentic Blackness” and whether it was compatible with Catholic religious practice.

Keywords:   African American religion, American Catholicism, Black Catholicism, Black Church, Black Power, Black Panther Party, George Clements, Fred Hampton, Catholic schools, authenticity

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