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America’s ‘angriest’ theologian faces lynching tree
A crowd gathers in Marion, Indiana, in 1930 to witness a lynching. This photograph inspired the poem and song “Strange Fruit.”
April 21st, 2012
10:00 PM ET

America’s ‘angriest’ theologian faces lynching tree

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - When he was boy growing up in rural Arkansas, James Cone would often stand at his window at night, looking for a sign that his father was still alive.

Cone had reason to worry. He lived in a small, segregated town in the age of Jim Crow. And his father, Charlie Cone, was a marked man.

Charlie Cone wouldn’t answer to any white man who called him “boy.” He only worked for himself, he told his sons, because a black man couldn’t work for a white man and keep his manhood at the same time.

Once, when he was warned that a lynch mob was coming to run him out of his home, he grabbed a shotgun and waited, saying, “Let them come, because some of them will die with me.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

James Cone knew the risks his father took. So when his father didn’t come home at his usual time in the evenings, he’d stand sentry, looking for the lights from his father’s pickup truck.

“I had heard too much about white people killing black people,” Cone recalled. “When my father would finally make it home safely, I would run and jump into his arms, happy as I could be.”

Cone takes on a theological giant

Cone left his hometown of Bearden, Arkansas, and became one of the world’s most influential theologians. But the memories of his father and lynch mobs never left him. Those memories shaped his controversial theology, and they saturate his recent memoir, “The Cross and the Lynching Tree.”

Cone, who once called himself “the angriest theologian in America,” is still angry. His book is not just a memoir of growing up in the Jim Crow era; it’s a blistering takedown of white churches, and one of America’s greatest theologians, Reinhold Niebuhr - a colossal figure often cited by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, Niebuhr’s importance is acknowledged by both liberal and conservative Christian leaders. President Obama once called him one of his favorite philosophers. Niebuhr, the author of classics such as “The Irony of American History,” died in 1971 after a lifetime of political activism.

Cone, however, said neither Niebuhr nor any other famous white pastor at the time spoke out against the most brutal manifestation of white racism in the 20th century America: lynching.

Between 1880 and 1940, Cone says, an estimated 5,000 black men and women were lynched. Their murders were often treated as festive affairs. Women and children cut off the ears of lynching victims as souvenirs. People mailed postcards of lynchings. One postcard of a charred lynching victim read, “This is the barbeque we had last night.”

But Niebuhr said nothing about lynching, little about segregation, and once turned down King’s request to sign a petition calling on the president to protect black children integrating Southern schools, Cone said.

Niebuhr’s decision not to speak out against lynching encouraged other white theologians and ministers to follow suit, Cone said, because Niebuhr was considered the nation’s greatest theologian.

“White theologians didn’t say anything about lynching,” Cone said from his office at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he teaches a course on Niebuhr. “I tried to find a white theologian who addressed it in a sustained way. No one did it.”

Cone’s criticism of Niebuhr baffles at least one well-known Niebuhr scholar. Charles Lemert, author of “Why Niebuhr Matters,” said King often cited Niebuhr as an inspiration. He said he’d never heard that Niebuhr rejected a petition request from King. “It would be so remote from everything the man was.”

Lemert said Niebuhr had established a long record of speaking out against racism, beginning when he became a pastor in Detroit. Niebuhr may not have spoken out against lynching and other forms of racism later on because of another reason, Lemert said.

“He had a debilitating stroke in 1951,” Lemert said. “By the time the civil rights movement was full blown, he was retired and getting ill.”

Why Cone is angry

Cone has spent much of his career condemning the white church for saying little about slavery or racial justice. Yet his pugnacious reputation doesn’t jibe with his appearance. He is a slight man with a boyish face, cinnamon complexion and dimples. He has a high-pitched voice that drips with the Southern inflections of his native Arkansas.

Cone first gained attention in 1969 with the release of “Black Theology and Black Power,” a book he wrote after urban race riots and King’s assassination.

That book took theology out of academia and placed it on the still-smoldering streets. He became known as the father of “black liberation theology.” He said God was black (he meant it figuratively) because God was closest to those who were oppressed and despised - black people in America.

Cone said his passion for justice comes from growing up in the black church.

Cone blended the racial pride of the black power movement with an emphasis on social justice that had been a part of the black church since enslaved Africans first read the Bible. Jesus' primary message, he said, wasn't about getting people to heaven, but liberating people here and now from oppression - racial, economic and spiritual.

Cone said he was tired of white theologians writing about an otherworldly theology while cities burned and blacks were murdered by racists.

“I felt like I was the angriest black theologian in America,” he once wrote in his book “Risks of Faith.” “I had to speak out.”

Cone inspired some and angered others.

Critics say he developed a divisive, racist theology that describes God as black and whites as evil. They say he’s stuck in the '60s and never abandoned the bitterness of growing up in segregation.

Supporters say Cone exposed the hypocrisy of white churches and gave voice to helpless, poor and oppressed Christians in places as far away as China and Latin America.

The Rev. James Ellis III, an author who has been both critical and supportive of Cone, says before Cone, theology was interpreted through a white male perspective.

Cone has inspired not only blacks but also women and other racial minorities to enter seminaries and the pulpit, he says.

“Whether you agree with Cone or not, he’s definitely someone you need to deal with,” said Ellis, author of “OnThaGrindCuzin: The School Daze of Being ‘Incognegro’ in 1619.”

“He takes the gloves off and gets down to the nitty-gritty.”

Jonathan Walton, an assistant professor of African American Religious Studies at Harvard University, said listening to Cone is like “listening to a Hebrew prophet.”

For many people, Walton says, Cone “exposed that the God that they were worshiping was more consistent with the Pharaoh in Egypt than the Hebrew children.”

Cone said people still misunderstand his theology. He said he does not believe that whites are more sinful than others.

“God made us all as brothers and sisters,” he said. “I’m mad when people don’t treat others as brothers and sisters. I’m concerned about the suffering of all people, not just black people. If anybody is being treated unjustly, I’m with them.”

Singing about the ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’

Cone said his passion for justice comes from growing up in the black church. In his recent memoir, he describes how blacks relied on music and faith to deal with the cruelty of segregation.

On Saturday nights, he said, blacks in his hometown would go to juke joints with names like Sam’s Place to hear blues songs like “Hoochie Coochie Man.” On Sunday mornings, some of the same people would go to church to sing spirituals like “Lord, I Want to be a Christian in My Heart.”

Church comforted Cone, but it also made him ask questions.

“My thing was, if the white churches are Christian, how come they segregate us? And if God is God, why is He letting us suffer?”

The cross, he said, helped him find some answers. He said many white Christians “spiritualize” the cross, seeing it as a penalty Jesus had to pay for mankind’s sins.

But black Christians, starting with the slaves who took up the Bible, also viewed the cross as a way to cope with suffering.

Blacks looking at the images of lynching victims took heart from Jesus’ suffering on the cross and his resurrection, Cone said.

He writes:

“Black Christians believed that just knowing that Jesus went through an experience of suffering in a manner similar to theirs gave them faith that God was with them, even in suffering on lynching trees just as God was present with Jesus in suffering on the cross.”

Cone also talked about his personal suffering in his memoir.

He writes about his wife, Sandra, who died of cancer in 1983. He saw her on the night she died. He said they were joking and laughing as she chided him for not leaving her hospital room to get rest.

He finally did leave, but she died at 3 that morning. Thinking about the cross helped him grieve, he said.

“God talked me through that,” he said, his voice softening. “You look suffering right in you eye and say, ‘You may get me, but you’re not going to have the last word.’ ”

Cone also talks about his parents, Charlie and Lucy, who inspired him and his two brothers. Charlie was a woodcutter who encouraged his wife to return to school, where she eventually earned a college degree.

“I didn’t grow up with a lot of fear,” he said. “I just thought my mother and father would protect me.”

One of Cone’s fears today, though, is that the contemporary black church is losing its distinctive theology. He said there’s less talk about justice and more talk about prosperity.

“You go to almost any black church today, and you don’t hear spirituals anymore,” he said. “What you hear is this happy, ‘I’m prosperous’ kind of stuff. I’m not for that. You don’t come to church to be entertained. You come to wrestle with your spirit.”

Cone may still be angry, but he’s also mellowed. He’s tempered some of the voltage from the language he used in his earlier books. And he’s accepted criticism from some black women theologians who said he didn’t include the perspective of black women in his works.

Yet thoughts of his childhood and his parents never seem far off. In his books and lectures, he returns once again to them, especially when people compliment him for his boldness. In one essay, Cone wrote:

“At most, what I say and do are just dim reflections of what my parents taught and lived.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Bible • Black issues • Books • Christianity • Church • Crime • Culture wars • Persecution • Prejudice • Race

soundoff (2,563 Responses)
  1. William

    My hobby is genealogy. NBC has a great show with "Who Do You Think You Are". I decided to watch "Finding Your Roots" on PBS, with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The "Finding Your Roots" episode with Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick turned into a show about slavery in America. I have since read that in most of the episodes, Mr. Gates discusses slavery. Not just as part of the celebrity's past, but as an indepth history lesson. Some folks just don't want to let it go.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  2. Race baiters

    "They (critics) say he’s stuck in the '60s... " So, apparently is CNN.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  3. Joshua Dudley

    What a great article. Im delighted to learn about this man and look forward to reading some of his work soon. I live in New York perhaps i can even meet him

    April 23, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 23, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  5. wturk

    I don't believe that Marion, In is actually in the South.........hmmmm!

    April 23, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  6. david

    I am finished with cnn... they will not let it rest until they start a race war. why not focus on what blacks need to do to fix there own community problems today instead of constantly blaming someone else.......

    April 23, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Texan

      I don't understand how reading about history is race baiting. It happened, it's historical, and we should know about it. Isn't there a saying, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it"?. This is not about starting a race riot and, based on the comments to this article, the only people I see getting stirred up seems to be non-minorities...

      April 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Nat Turner

      Truth hurts, doesn't it, Davie?

      April 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  7. PBernhardt

    Hey, CNN, here's a novel idea. How about reporting news? For example, government auditors want Obama to shut down the 8 Billion Dollar Medicaid Bonus Plan.
    I guess race baiting or class warfare stories are your priority.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Texan

      I don't understand how reading about history is race baiting. It happened, it's historical, and we should know about it. Isn't there a saying, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it"?. This is not about stirring up anything. Based on these comments, the only people I see getting stirred up seems to be non-minorities...

      April 23, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  8. Fern

    Sad piece of history that must not be denied or forgotten.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Jack

      Those that forget are doomed to repeat. We must be sure however that in remembering, we do not cause more problems. As an example, we should not let this unfortunate and upsetting story turn into a reason to start lynching white people. Rather, we must admit that what happened was wrong and strive to prevent prejudice in the future. Use this as an example of what can happen when people remain silent and the past is forgotten.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  9. J

    Love...it's all about love...not hate...

    "As we stand at the cross of Christ we see a glorious exhibition of God’s love. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “While we were powerless to help ourselves . . . Christ died for sinful men.” In human experience, it is a rare thing for one man to give his life for another, even if the latter be a good man, though there have been a few who have had the courage to do it. Yet the proof of God’s amazing love is this: that it was “while we were sinners Christ died for us.”

    A beautiful young society leader came to visit my wife and me. She had been converted to Christ in one of our Crusades, and she was absolutely radiant in her transformation. Already she had learned scores of Scripture verses by heart and was so full of Christ that we sat for two hours listening to her give her moving testimony. Over and over she said, “I cannot understand how God could forgive me. I have been such a wicked sinner. I just cannot understand the love of God.”

    Prayer for the day

    It is beyond comprehension the love that took You to the cross for me. Humbly I praise and thank You, my Savior and my Lord."

    -Billy Graham

    April 23, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  10. maxwunsche

    Whenever an election approaches...out come the holocaust and lynching photos.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  11. Katie

    CNN, why are you stirring up more hated?? Are you being run by the New Black Panthers?? This is a new low.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Texan

      I don't understand how reading about history is "stirring up hate." It happened, it's historical, and we should know about it. Isn't there a saying, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it"?. This is not about stirring up anything. Based on these comments, the only people I see getting stirred up seems to be non-minorities...

      April 23, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Nat Turner

      Katie, "stirring up hate?" Are you saying there was none before this article. It's just like the idiots who say Pres Obama "divided the races." Was there peace, love and harmony before he took office. What you and others like you hate is that your evil deeds are being exposed! You don't like anyone knowing what cruel, cold, heartless murders you are. The truth is out there and it should and will forever be talked about. The problem with many black people is that they listen to people like you and decide NOT to talk about the past. I spread as much history and knowledge as I possibly can and will continue to do so. Own up to your ancestors' cold hearted sickness.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  12. Sam

    Seems like CNN attempting to create cover for Rev Wright (BO's pastor) by making excuses for "Black theology" which is anything but inclusive. When will the vicious cycle be allowed to end? Remember what putting the boot on the next of the German people after WWI led to? Those who refuse to remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  13. mabel floyd

    when i reflect on the treatment of the black people and they way they were treated i am sure i would have been lynched if i were a black person of that time. we can say well it was the culture-it was ignorance-etc. but it was really GREED and the chance to exploit a group of people who could not fight back. the fake christians used the bible to justify it. today those same type people are using the same arguments to exploit any group they think they can harm without harm to themselves. the blacks-the latinos–the women–the poor-all are being exploited. they are still pretending to be christian. the newest ploy by the fake christians is to try and scare the public about sherria law. however, it is the fake christians who are passing the laws to take the power to harm the blacks–the latino's–the women and the poor.
    someone said the republicans can be divided into 3 segments. 1. the greedy-2. the evangelicals- 3. the rednecks. how true. what the repubs do to get votes is keep the emotionally immature and the greedy feed their lies and emotional pablum to enjoy. it is impossible to speak to the intellect when the emotions are masking the ability to reach the intellect.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Katie

      Get your head of of the sand Mable. Do a little research about Sharia law, then maybe you'll have something intelligent to say.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"1. the greedy-2. the evangelicals- 3. the rednecks. how true. "

      Question, when you know there are African American Republicans, such as myself who are not rich, are regular church folks who attend predominately Black churches which are filled with Democrats up the ceiling.... and who are not Rednecks....

      where do you put us?

      April 23, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • bannister

      Mabel – 90% of all Blacks and Latinos are Christian. Are they oppressing themselves?

      April 23, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  14. yankeenot

    I am from near ATL, yes I am white man and do everything that a man from the South can do. (New Yorkers might be lost on this comment by the way) I fish, play sports, hike, race, build street rods and I also have lots and lots of black friends who are some of the best people in the world and think it is funny that CNN tries to stir up old crap like race relations. If CNN were to go out in the real world every once in a while, they would find that the South is the best place in the world to be right now and nobody really cares what color you are. Maybe just Yankees are hung up on that????........

    April 23, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      It continues to support the us verses them mentality. Remember also the Black voter turn out is predicted to be much lower this November and folks like CNN want to maintain the myth they and other Liberals placed into the African American community that only the Democrats can save them.

      In many ways they do not even want the African American community to believe that they can save themselves. That is the racism that is worst than that of the klan.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Primewonk

      In a poll from last April, almost half oof all republicans in Mississippi said that interracial marriage should be illegal.

      So forgive me if I think your post was full of cra.p.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • MySay500

      Tell it.

      However, it is not that different for most of us in the North. Don't let this article fool you.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Prime. Let me let you into a old Black phrase... It was said from a parent to a child.

      "If she can't use your comb, don't bring her home"

      Interracial dating disapproval does exist inside the African American community.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  15. tintin

    wow CNN another article to get a rise out of the readers bravo!

    April 23, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  16. bannister

    FACT # 1: The KKK killed around 3,000 people total during it's ENTIRE existence.

    FACT #2: Black criminals kill about TWICE that number EVERY SINGLE YEAR in the United States.

    QUESTION: Where is the CNN article about THAT?

    April 23, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Heime

      Good question.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • TP

      White criminals kill just as many as Black criminals ... where's the story about that?

      April 23, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Nonimus

      I find it rather disgusting that you, apparently, think such a comparison some how justifies the KKK. Such a ridiculous organization doesn't deserve the consideration.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • MySay500

      True

      April 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • J.W

      So do you think if we got rid of all the black people crime would cease to exist?

      April 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • LB

      FACT 3: Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but somehow erased all evidence they ever existed before the US invasion occurred.
      When is a fact not a fact? Pretty much anytime you see the word "fact" in a blog.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • MySay500

      AMEN

      April 23, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Mike

      This is playing with statistics.

      1. Wrong Fact # 1: KKK intentionally targeted black people

      2. Wrong Fact # 2: Where are the sources that support this claim? And if true (which it is not), you are talking here about common criminals who prey on anyone from any color. KKK was focused, targeted and racially-motivated.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • bannister

      To answer my critics-

      TP – Not true. Blacks make up only 14% of the population yet commit over 50% of all violent crime in the United States. Throw in the Hispanics (who commit violent crime about 3x the rate of the white population) and you've got about 80% of the violent crime covered. The rest belongs to Whites and a few Asians (who commit violent crime at only 1/2 the white rate) Google "The Color or Crime" Report based on FBI stats and do the research yourself.

      Nominus – I am NOT justify or condoning what the KKK did. I condemn what they did. I am merely providing some perspective on the issue. Yes, the KKK murdered 3,000 people and that's terrible. But 3x that number are murdered on American streets EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Let's focus on THAT rather than travel back to the B&W photos of the past that we've all seen 100 times.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Whiteghettokid

      The following are all googleable (if that's a real word lol) FACTS...not oppinions about the town of Irvington NJ I grew up in.
      Fact: Up until the early 1970s the population was made up of 85% white, 5% balck and 10% other and crime in the town was one of the lowest in the state and violent crimes/murder was one of the lowest in the country.
      Fact: Between the late 1970s and early 1980s the population was made up of 85% black, 5% white and 10% other and the crime in the town tripuled in a 5 year period and 5 years after that was the murder capital of the United States!
      Fact: I came from a broken home, had almost no contact with my father, was basicly raised by everyone in the neighborhood because my mother worked over 12 hours a day and a weekend job to support her 2 sons and when to public school. I have never done drugs, never been been arrested and have been gainfully employeed for the past 28 years, have been happily married for over 20 years and have an 18 year old son that was accepted to 5 different colleges to play football, but choose to join the Marine to protect us all. But guess what, when I took my civil service test I inquired about the extra 10 points that African Americans were getting due to "being forced to attend schools with substandard education" and was denied the points! My friend that is African American did get the extra 10 points and I sat right next to him from grades 1 though 12!!!
      Moral to my long boring story is this...not a fact and is my oppinion is that African Americans don't want equality, they want superiority. I do not feel that because my skin is white that I am better then everybody. As stated, I grew up in a majarity African American area were I was the minority out numbered 85% to 5%, so I hate no one...yet I feel hate from people I've never met because of the color of my skin...racism is not exclusive to whites.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @bannister,
      "I am merely providing some perspective on the issue. Yes, the KKK murdered 3,000 people and that's terrible. But 3x that number are murdered on American streets EVERY SINGLE YEAR."
      What exactly is the perspective here? First, I would speculate that the lynchings of African Americans were not always done by the KKK. Second to compare the lynchings of the past to the murder stats of today, especially by shear numbers, seems at best an apples to oranges comparison, and at worst an attempt to portray the KKK and/or lynchings of the past as 'not so bad'.
      Murder is not the same as the racial motivated and populous sanctioned festival of slaughter that occasionally happened in the past.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  17. If you're white you're a racist

    It's almost as if CNN, and all liberal activists wish they were headquartered back in the Jim Crow South so they could fight a racial "injustice" that just doesn't exist anymore for anyone other than those who're looking for it. If this country is so racist, how do you explain the success of African immigrants? You can't, because it doesn't fit your narrative. What about Asians? How do they do so much better than whites? I guess we must have Asians in all the highest conspiracy posts throughout the Gov.

    The whole point of this and all other CNN articles, blacks are murdered by white men and women, and that's the reason they're poor, and obama will fix everything and buy them houses, and pay them better wages. Maybe when blacks stop killing each other and the rest of us, maybe when 70% of blacks are not fathered out of wedlock, maybe when blacks start taking advantage of the free education the rest of us have provided, then they might actually make something of themselves instead of the pipe dream of playing in the NBA, NFL, or becoming a rapper. They only have themselves to blame. They get free food, free public education, free gov housing, yet white people are still to blame when they fail. What else is there to give blacks to see that they succeed?

    Hell, they are a perfect example of how you can even give them MILLIONS of dollars, in which they would be set for life, yet most of them end up bankrupt within 5 years after that money stops flowing. What am I talking about? the NBA and NFL, in which a large majority of athletes end up bankrupt within 5 years of getting millions thrown at them to play a game for our entertainment. When blacks actually start taking accountability for their actions and their stupidity, then maybe we can get on with out lives and stop hearing how 60-70 years ago blacks were segregated and lynched. Because when we turned the tables and gave them everything they wanted, they squandered it.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • daveinla

      WELL SAID INDEED!!!! This is about stirring-up non-existant racism in order to help Obama fire up his base (blacks and white guilt liberals).

      April 23, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Primewonk

      " stirring-up non-existant racism"

      In a poll from last April, almost half of all republicans in Mississippi said that interracial marriage shoulld be illegal.

      If racism is non-existant, why would these folks say this? I would also hazzard a guess that the vast majority of these southern republicans were good fundamentalist christians. There god must be so pleased.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Texan

      I don't understand how reading about history is race baiting. It happened, it's historical, and we should know about it. Isn't there a saying, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it"?. This is not about stirring up anything. Based on these comments, the only people I see getting stirred up seems to be non-minorities...

      Also, not sure where you live, but this world injustice does exist: economic injustice, racial injustice, gender injustice, stupid people injustice.... As long as man is in control, injustice of some kind will exist. Ignoring it, or pretending that because your small piece of the world is o.k., everybody's must be o.k. does not make it so.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • If you're white you're a racist

      It's called how to lie with statistics. The majority of people in miss. actually don't have a problem with interracial marriage. See what I did there? Taking a segment of the population like miss. and inducing conclusions is like saying all black people are as sharp and conservative as Thomas Sowell, it's disingenuous. I wasn't aware that there were black people being held at gunpoint to stay in Miss., they must be enslaving their head football coach at Ole Miss. There mustn't be any black players on those teams either, or at those Universities at all according to how horrible life is in Miss for blacks.

      Plus I never said racism doesn't exist, I'm just saying that even in Mississippi, the focal point of racism, blacks still have free education, free food, college opportunities, job opportunities, and many of the black football players go to the NFL with their talent to make millions. Yes, even in the "focal point" of racism, blacks have opportunities that people in Africa, Asia, India, etc could only dream about. And so what if they don't want interracial dating, what if they don't want interfaith dating? Is someone a bad person for not wanting to marry an atheist? or a Muslim? or a Jew? Or if an atheist didn't want to marry a Christian?

      How many blacks would actually welcome interracial dating? Or interfaith dating? The world isn't this Kumbaya, everybody marry everybody regardless of whether you share the same faith culture religion, etc. am I a horrible person to want to marry someone within my culture opinions religion? Yes racism, while bad, isn't as horrible as it was 50-100 years ago, you turn the tables around, say in a place like South Africa maybe. Then you have broad "necklacing" of whites, just like lynching here back in our past. It's just sad that a message like Jesus' was distorted to become something about Justice and equality. Jesus didn't lead an army to fight the Romans for equality, because in God's eyes, we're already equal, God loves hitler, stalin, the KKK members, as much as he loves rev wright, the black panthers, james cone, ghandi, etc. Whether or not they choose to love him or do the right thing is a different story. But we are already equal, Jesus didn't come to make sure that blacks and whites make the same wages, he came to save us from ourselves.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  18. Krehator

    These were horrible crimes commited by disgusting people. There is no denying they happened, nor diminishing the lessons that should be learned.

    BUT

    it is time to start letting the past go or things will never improve. All races, genders, nationalities, and religions are suffered as some point in history. Only a perosn ignorant of history would disagree. NO ONE has the market on victim status. NO ONE.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Texan

      Letting go does not mean forgetting. I don't understand how reading about history is race baiting. It happened, it's historical, and we should know about it. Isn't there a saying, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it"?. This is not about stirring up anything. Based on these comments, the only people I see getting stirred up seems to be non-minorities...

      April 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  19. Reagan80

    Ah, our daily CNN promotion of racial discord.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  20. Ben

    Why this article now? Not enough racial mixing it up with the Treyvon/Zomermann thing alone???

    April 23, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Romney is polling too close to Obama and CNN needs to make sure that the level of White guilt remains high until November.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:51 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.