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“As Martin Luther King said, we must learn to live together as human beings, treating each other with dignity and respect, or we will perish together as fools. There is no other choice. I choose life.”
James H. Cone is widely recognized as the founder of Black Liberation Theology—a synthesis of the Gospel message embodied by Martin Luther King, Jr., and the spirit of Black pride embodied by Malcolm X. Prompted by the Detroit riots and the death of King, Cone, a young theology professor, was impelled to write his first book, Black Theology and Black Power, followed by A Black Theology of Liberation. With these works he established himself as one of the most prophetic and challenging voices of our time.
In this powerful and passionate memoir—his final work—Cone describes the obstacles he overcame to find his voice, to respond to the signs of the times, and to offer a voice for those—like the parents who raised him in Bearden, Arkansas in the era of lynching and Jim Crow—who had no voice. Recounting lessons learned both from critics and students, and the ongoing challenge of his models King, Malcolm X, and James Baldwin, he describes his efforts to use theology as a tool in the struggle against oppression and for a better world.
James H. Cone (1938-2018) was the Bill and Judith Moyers Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary. His books include Black Theology of Liberation, Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare, and The Cross and the Lynching Tree, winner of the 2018 Grawemeyer Award in Religion. This year he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.