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. palintwit

    Definitely Sarah Palin's "real Americans" in that photo.

    April 23, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • babykitty

      We get it, you hate Sarah Palin.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  2. Truth7

    The author praises that the blach churchez used to have music and faith – They used to listen to "Hoochie Coochi Mama" on Saturday nights then go to church Sunday morning and sing "LORD, I want to be a Christian in my heart".

    The author upholds this? No church, or any color of person, should uphold this as an ideal. This guy is a false prophet and the anger in his heart reveals he doesn't hear God's word. Jesus tells us the parables were only meant to be understood by those without hardened hearts. Anger hardens the heart. This author's anger burns deep. Instead of being grateful that God brought him to this country through his ancestors – the same for all of us – he is being used to spread HATE. Dear author, remove the hate from your heart so you can hear God. Maybe then you would understand His works in your life.

    April 23, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Truth7, are you really saying the someone should be grateful to God for enslaving their people for 200 years causing the death of countless Millions? I don't understand your logic, please explain what he should be grateful for?

      April 23, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  3. aaron

    What a sad, clinging to the old days, angry sounding old man. His life is like someone drinking poison and thinking it will kill another. It's time to move on. Let it go.

    April 23, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Ann

      LOOK at those pictures.....do you really think someone can just "let it go"?? Imagine that being your father, son, brother hanging from that tree....how easily do you think their families can let that go? Everyone's spirit is not as easily forgiving as yours, apparently, but then how often do people like you really try to put yourselves in someone else's place? There are some black people who have forgiven the past, because, as you said, the anger and hatred is poison. But others have not, and they have to deal with it the best way they can.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • babykitty

      Ann, are you saying that we should hold an entire people responsible for things in the past that people who looked like them did to people who look like you? What happened to judging individuals?

      April 23, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  4. Charmin'

    The frightening this is that people on this board try to find an excuse to justify why those men were lynched. The same people try to justify slavery and decimation of Native Americans. How dark are your hearts? Omg people!

    April 23, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Chris

      think you better review posts lil more closely before making assumptions about peoples beliefs

      April 23, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  5. Charmin'

    omg...that picture made me freeze. Completely! America had a dark past. Unbelievable. Native Americans didn't have it good either.

    April 23, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • c'mon_son!

      Uhhhmmm America STILL has a dark past. Yet thru it all, American or otherwise, the FIGHT for LIFE is REAL! I wish I had knew ANY of those men women and CHILDREN, terrorized, tortured, &murdered by those foolishly believing they were better in some disturbed way. DEF would be a different history told. If ur a individual w/ a negative foundation, its only a matter of time for u. Will u be as prepared as those sweet fruits hang'n from those trees? We shall indeed bear witness;)

      April 23, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  6. NorCalMojo

    Keeping the hate alive. Every election it's the same.

    April 23, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  7. Americanmexphil

    If it wasn't white Christians who helped blacks at their time of peril who was it? Most all churches and their leaders are Hippocrates. I remember at a Christian luncheon where the church leaders were talking about feeding the poor. A homeless man came in and was told he had to leave the restaurant for obvious reasons. My brother stood up and looked at his brethren walked out of the restaurant and came back with that same homeless man sat him down and fixed the man a plate from the buffet to the embarrassment of the rest. When he asked what they were there for. Who the hell care's about the
    church. It's the few Christian's inside no matter what color they are that are always forgotten in the mist of others hate.

    April 23, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  8. Saywhatyoumean

    Ok, that picture just makes me sick to my stomach. 🙁

    My grandfather (a Baptist minister) told me once about how racist and bigoted his father (also a Baptist minister) was. I feel sorry for people claiming to love their fellow man and yet they hate them. A lawyer can be a racist and he's still a lawyer. That doesn't mean his boss likes him or that he is good at his job. Likewise, a person claiming to follow Jesus and yet hates his fellow man is a hypocrite and isn't trying living according to Gods' love. Thank God I wasn't born back in those days. The thought that I might have been one of those wicked people in the picture makes me cringe.

    April 23, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  9. Truth7

    Jesus is VERY clear – when asked why He spoke in parables, Jesus said it's because some weren't meant to understand His words and their meaning. Who are those people? He said "those with calloused hearts".

    That would explain why this author doesn't fully get it. Who is the good neighbor you are supposed to uphold? Three people walked by a man lying on the side of the road. The first two, did not stop. The third one, a regular joe, stopped and helped. This third guy was the one you are to uphold, not those who didn't help. This is not what we are doing! You uphold those who do the right thing! Not those who don't!.

    God is very clear, some are destined for captivity, some for famine, some for the sword, etc. All of his people have been in captivity, throughout time. Their fellow brothers sold them into slavery. For those who committed atrocities, you can bet they didn't have God in them. Does this author not understand "wolves in sheep's clothing"? Men can be downright evil, God is not. It doesn't matter what color you are.

    April 23, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Primewonk

      " God is very clear, some are destined for captivity, some for famine, some for the sword, etc. "

      And your sick, psychotic, schizophrenic, twisted, putz of a god – by virtue of his claimed omnipotence and omniscience – is personally responsible for all this.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • serveJBR

      If you don't believe in God, then, of course, "He" is not responsible for real evil. If you do believe, then you may find the answer to your question in the Bible- Satan is responsible for evil, and people fall to the deception created. Yes, God lets it happen, and we are right to question why, evil is never just. Would we rather be egalitarian robots never knowing love, risk, satisfaction, sacrifice etc? Probably not most of us, we get it, and we follow Christ humbly. Murder has always been wrong, and anyone caught in a lie to the contrary will pay the price in this life and beyond- God is perfect and just. Do I know this with certainty? No. Is it my hope and utmost belief? Absolutely, and believing has been my only rock in this truly messed up "fallen" world.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  10. palintwit

    That is a photo of a typical teabagger rally in a Walmart parking lot. Then they go back to their trailers and boink their sisters and cousins.

    April 23, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • snowdogg

      How inane.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Americanmexphil

      More Hate. From guess who?

      April 23, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  11. Chris

    @ pic, i live there in marion, Indiana, have all my life, there was 3 in that lynching, the last who survived, spread his poison around for years before finally getting an apology out of congress and then passed away, lynching or not, justice or not, LET IT BE KNOWN, these particular people hanging in the tree, were jailed on charges for raping a white woman and robbing her and her lover in the same incident, i like how they blow their horn on the lack of justice and totally disregard why they were there in the jail in the first place

    April 23, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Chris, that is a simple answer, we can't believe the charges. I heard that those guys were bad guys but No One can say with certainty, not even you. They were never convicted of that crime therefor they are Innocent of it.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Chris

      i know this, what im saying is quit speading the story if your not going to tell the whole story known, everytime this story is mentioned,(the one in the photo), they never seem to go there, they usually all start from the point where they were (broke/let) their way into the jail and lynched

      April 23, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • EGB2

      I was going to ask why we are dredging up terrible events from 70 plus years ago, but then read what appears to be a defense of lynching by "Chris." The pastor's message, unfortunately, is still as timely as ever.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Chris

      say whatever you want, im no bigot, im just tired of hearing half the story, and if you want to try to pick a text skirmish with some1, try the idiot above me talking about teabaggin

      April 23, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Chris

      say whatever you want, im no bigot, im just tired of hearing half the story, and if you want to try to pick a text skirmish with some1, try the idiot above me talking about teabaggin, besides like how the phrase goes, you cant live in the past or dwell in the past, or it will destroy your future, yet these past events always seem to resurface now dont they

      April 23, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Kevin F.

      You're retarded. This is torture, justice doesn't look like this in any case.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Chris

      no your retarded, fool, Where did i Ever say, "i condoned lynching", Read whats there, you idiots are making assumptions....Ive been defending "telling the whole story if your going to tell it at all,..."

      April 23, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  12. honestly


    Get over it people. The more you talk about the 'white' people and 'black' people as if they are somehow different, the more we see each other as enemies. The truth is we are all one human family, all of us distant cousions from one another. ALL human beings came from Africa.

    People have been committing atrocities to other people since the beginning of people! Its time we stop all of it and move forward, TOGETHER and work on creating a world that is better for each and every one of us.

    April 23, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • John

      Exactly. This whole discussion looks like a bunch of children saying "Well, HE started IT!"

      April 23, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Peace Lilly

      I TOTALLY agree!

      April 23, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • inachu

      Funny how that mormonism teaches how we landed on earth from a UFO and mated with the cavemen who were black and Jesus and satan were brothers on that galactic ufo.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  13. AusieSceptic1

    Maintain your rage Mr Cone

    April 23, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • babykitty

      I was correcting the author's rather obvious mistake about the number and reason that black people were lynched. I would much rather know the facts, which I don't think excuse or minimize lynching, they are simply the facts about history. Wild exaggerations and simply making things up are not helpful to your cause.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  14. Siddhartha Gautama

    Perhaps this "Angry Theologian" should try a little Buddhist philosophical enlightenment.
    "May all sentient beings be in equanimity, free of bias, attachment and anger."

    April 23, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  15. babykitty

    From 1882-1968, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States. Of these people that were lynched 3,446 were black.

    I find it interesting that people never mention what those black people were lynched for. I guess most just assume that they were lynched for the color of their skin, but white people were lynched too. The photo at the top of the page depicts the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith. They had been arrested the night before for robbing and shooting a man and then raping his girlfriend. A "robbery gone wrong" by two "youths", no doubt.

    April 23, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • jbcal

      Of course there's no chance that those were bogus charges since there was equal justice for all back then?

      April 23, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • babykitty

      I didn't say they were uunequivocally guilty. I am sure there were some people (white and black) that were innocent of the charges, just as there are a few people in prison who are innocent of the crimes they were found guilty of. There is a misperception that is perpetuated by this article about the number and reasons that black people were lynched in the past. I dont like seeing the spread of ignorance. I am not moralizing, just educating.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • JohnQuest

      babykitty, what makes you think that the charges were justified and not fabricated to arrest and then Murder those men?

      April 23, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • babykitty

      John quest,

      My comments from before haven't appeared yet. Read "The Lynch Mob: A Personal Tale" from ABC's nightline. It was the firsthand account of the 16 year old who got a ride from Shipp and Smith right before they attacked their victims.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Kevin F.

      You're retarded.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  16. Carl

    It would be interesting to know how many white men were also lynched in the same period of time, not for the sake of comparison because any lynching is evil, uncivilized and illegal. I don't recall any theologian talking about any kind of lynching, black or white, so the absence of the presence may not be the exact presence that triggers Cone. There is a huge world of indifference out there and cognitive blindness is not a racial phenomenon. Many of us have grown up suffering from different kinds of "majority" ill treatment but don't spend the rest of our lives engaging in sterile internal conversations that produce not a whole lot.

    April 23, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • hmmm

      You do realize that if a white man were lynched, it was because he was at least suspected of a real crime. Whistling at a white girl wouldn't get him lynched.

      April 23, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • babykitty

      Many of the whites lynched were lynched for helping the black or being anti lynching and even for domestic crimes.

      April 23, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Nonimus

      The reason you don't hear about it, is that it hardly ever happened when it wasn't also about lynching African Americans, apparently.

      "From 1882-1968, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States. Of these people that were lynched 3,446 were black. The blacks lynched accounted for 72.7% of the people lynched. These numbers seem large, but it is known that not all of the lynchings were ever recorded. Out of the 4,743 people lynched only 1,297 white people were lynched. That is only 27.3%. Many of the whites lynched were lynched for helping the black or being anti lynching and even for domestic crimes. "

      April 23, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • babykitty


      since you read the same article I did, I will assume that you didn't read the last several paragraphs. Many states lynched only white people and no blacks, Several states didn't have any lynchings. It was only in the deep south that blacks were lynched for racial reasons as opposed to the same reasons that whites were lynched–horse theivery and murder topping the list of crimes.

      April 23, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Nonimus

      There is really no excuse for any lynchings and trying to minimize the impact by saying, "hey, whites were lynched too," is an extremely weak attempt to marginalize history.

      April 23, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • babykitty

      I was correcting the author's rather obvious mistake about the number and reason that black people were lynched. I would much rather know the facts, which I don't think excuse or minimize lynching, they are simply the facts about history. Wild exaggerations and simply making things up are not helpful to your cause.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Nonimus

      I'm not certain what you are trying to say, but ~1200 people, at least some of which weren't related to AA lynching, in ~80 years is the "hardly" I was talking about. In relative terms.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Nonimus

      Again, not sure what you are getting at. My first comment was in response to @Carl, not you.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • babykitty

      A third of all lynchings–and 1200 people- certainly isn't representative of the population, but it doesn't qualify as "hardly any" in my book. But, to each his own. I guess if you can only see the world through a certain color of glasses, you will ignore the facts and stick to myths. Anyone who exaggerates 3500 lynchings of black people into 5000 is guilty of lying.

      So only "Carl" can correct you? Whatever.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • George

      Carl, Babykitty

      How are those KKK meetings going these days? You people are disgusting, seriously.

      Regardless of what Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have been telling you – American did in fact have slavery, the African Americans were not well taken care of (they didn't like it...how about that...), and there were scores of African Americans lynched for absolutely no reason, other than bigotry and apologists (like you).


      April 23, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • babykitty

      So remaining attached to facts is racist these days? Anything I have said has been taken from wikipedia, an article written by the NAACP, or an eyewitness account reported on ABCnews. That makes me part of the KKK? Maybe you are the disgusting one.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • George

      Yes, you are disgusting – your twisted views are disgusting – and I don't have to respect ridiculous perspectives, or ridiculous opinions, such as yours.

      Just because the festering blister of the right-wing party allows the wacked out fringe to puss with racism all over the freaking place, doesnt mean the rest of us have to accept it happily

      April 23, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • babykitty

      George, you are one of those who thinks that everyone who disagrees with you or sticks to the facts is "disgusting" and "racist". I have news for you: In a civilized society there is no room for lynchings or WILD EXAGGERATIONS and LIES that are meant to incite racial hatred. When you spout lies and exaggerations, people are much less likely to listen to you when they've found you out. I am guessing that you didn't make it far in school (or if you did, it was a "soft" subject) because if you had, you would have found out that facts are neutral. They are simply what is true. When you reject truth in favor of your narrow world view, you put yourself in a cage. The truth will set you free, even if it doesn't conform to your preconcieved notions.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • George

      Your attachment to 'fact' is subverted by your obvious minimisation of reality and the suffering inflicted during this period.

      You are the worst sort of person. Case closed. No additional comments necessary. Have fun at your next 'meet' rationalising and apologising for the disgusting behaviour during this period in our history.


      April 23, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Nonimus

      Ah, I see now, I think.
      Yes, if there were 1200 white people lynched for reasons unrelated to African American lynchings, then you may have a point, however, the site cited did not specify other than to say, "many of the whites lynched were lynched for helping the black or being anti lynching and even for domestic crimes." In addition to it's lack of specifics, I would point out what others have which is that I don't think any person was ever lynched, in the US, strictly for being white, although I could be wrong.

      It did discuss, later in the article, states which had more white lynchings than black and/or no lynchings, however, even if they all happened in one state, or county, would that make the situation any more tolerable? Couldn't you make the same argument that not all states allowed slavery pre-civil war, does that excuse the US from allowing the insti.tution of slavery? I don't think it does.

      As to the ~3500 to 5000 exaggeration, I'm won't condemn that, mainly because I don't know the statistics that well. I cite one web site that I found, that sounded reasonable and had its own citations, but I would never consider that the absolute last word. If there is a better source, I'm more than willing to listen.

      In my defense, I think there was enough evidence to support, not prove, the position of white lynchings happening very much less often, or "hardly ever" relatively speaking, especially when one considers the demographic ratios, AAs were 10-15% of the population, I believe.

      I do, however, see your point, if you look at ~1200 vs ~3500 without any other criteria, it does not seem quite as stark. I just don't think that is a realistic comparison based on the above reasons.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  17. J Brown

    I asked my grandfather why he was self-employed and he said he would not work for a white man. I knew what that meant. He was never subservient to whites. He would not tell a white person his first name, just his initials. One time he was driving his family and had to use the bathroom. He stopped at a gas station that had a diner attached. In a hurry, he opened and went through the front door. The white men in the store wanted to kill him for that. He told them, "I have my family in the car and all I want to do is use the bathroom. There are four of you and one of me, but I assure you, when the fight is over, I will be standing." He used the bathroom!

    April 23, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Craigers T

      Good story from Gramps. And exactly that. A story.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Freedom

      Don't listen to Craigers, probably true, very common back then in some places. But focus on the word grandpa, all those people are gone and not part of our world today, today 95% of white people would be just as appalled as you are.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Kevin F.

      Great story! White people love for you to be afraid of them.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  18. Mark

    Wonder what Cone's comments are if he speaks on the current Black lynch mob converging on George Zimmerman?

    April 23, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Lisa

      Totally different, George was not hanged for saying good morning to a white lady, George is not being lynched for just be black. You can not compare this to what happened to blacks. We do not know what is going to happen to George, we know from the pics what happened to blacks, for just being black or for not answering to the word BOY!!! BOY.....

      April 23, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Mike

      Interesting, today you call blacks protesting the killing of Travon Martin a lynch mob. You obviously don't have kids.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      The only reason Zimmerman has those people upset is because he profiled an innocent kid based partially on skin color. Anyone not upset about what Zimmerman did needs to have their morals checked.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  19. JG

    moron,"will cry for money"

    April 23, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  20. PumpNDump

    99.9% of "Theologians" are imbeciles. That's a fact. MOST spread hate, bigotry and all of them spread ignorance.

    April 23, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • ajk

      really? Maybe you should back up your assertions with fact, instead of simply spewing your biased mind.

      April 23, 2012 at 9:59 am |
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About this blog

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.