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. GodPot

    It would be convenient for all of the ignorant Americans to forget where we came from and certainly a lot easier on their conscience. To forget how we aquired Hawaii for it's sugar ca.ne, pinapple and timber, how we "freed" the Phillipines, Pu.erto Rico and Guam, how far from righteous we were in Vietnam and Ca.mbodia, why we needed to drop not one but two nu.clear bombs wiping whole cit.ies off Ja.pans map to end the war that many have said had already ended, why presidents like Ronald Reagan said “A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.” Our involvement in Guatemala, Nic.aragua, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Serbia, not to mention our own personal history with the indigenous people of North America and the human traffi.cking and slave labor we devised to work the land so we wouldn't blister our soft white hands. Grow up, read about your history and accept it and learn from it. Learn why we should never fall into the trap of dehumanizing any other peoples in any part of the world and reco.gnize that every single human life is just as important as your own.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • babykitty

      gosh, I haven't done any of that stuff.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Rolph

      Did you vote for the people who did, like Reagan and W? Did you staunchly support those administrations? Because if you did, you have earned your measure of guilt for the slaughters and tortures and oppression and all the rest.

      I don't believe in guilt by association, unless you actively choose to support it. Which it seems you have, babykitty.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • babykitty

      Rolph, that is ridiculous. I wasn't even old enough to vote when Reagan was elected. As for W, I wasn't aware that we took a public vote about invading Afghanistan, etc. Even precious Obama decided to invade Libya without the consent of the governed. I guess you don't know much, do you?

      April 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • babykitty

      Cnn keeps eating my comment. Here goes again.

      Rolph, that is ridiculous. I wasn't even old enough to vote when Reagan was elected. As for W, I wasn't aware that we took a public vote about invading Afghanistan, etc. Even precious Obama decided to invade Libya without the consent of the governed. I guess you don't know much, do you?

      April 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Well I wasn't involved in any of that stuff myself nor was my family. They didn't kill any Native Americans or own slaves. They didn't even immigrate to the US until the early 1900's. My grandfather were in the military during WWII. My grandfather was an airplane mechanic so he didn't kill anybody. None of my family served in 'Nam. So please explain why I should feel guilty?

      April 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Silent Majority

      Your foolish.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Rolph

      Who did you vote for in 2004? Did you ever support W's policies in the Middle East?

      We didn't invade Libya, dunb-dumb.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • GodPot

      "gosh, I haven't done any of that stuff." "I wasn't even old enough to vote when Reagan was elected."

      And I'm sure you have never benefited from any of that "stuff" that those others did in your countries name, so why should you care, right? You were never given better access to education, jobs and resources than your darker skinned brethren, right? And if you think the evil of past murders should so quickly be forgotten, how do you feel about the current state of Christians who can't seem to stop talking about their savior being hung up on a tree nearly 2000 years ago in a foreign country?

      April 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Silent Majority

      Oh yeah and it was dope smoking, draft dodging Billy Clinton that sent us to Bosnia! Ronald Reagan was by FAR the best president this country has had in the last 40 years!

      April 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • GodPot

      "So please explain why I should feel guilty?" I never said you should feel guilty. I said "Grow up, read about your history and accept it and learn from it. Learn why we should never fall into the trap of dehumanizing any other peoples in any part of the world and reco.gnize that every single human life is just as important as your own."

      April 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Silent Majority

      Some day you will know who your savior is, believe it now or not. Another angry atheiest it seems... Nothing to believe in but themselves. GodPot you need some serious prayer to open your eyes to reality and faith!!!

      April 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Well I went to school that was mostly African-American so I guess I had the same opportunities in school that they did.

      My stepdad is African-American and he is quite well educated and has had no problem getting work. Actually his whole family is very well educated and they were not raised in a very good neighborhood. Granted, this is not true for all but to act like it is impossible to succeed... is stupid.

      Sure there are quite a few cases of discrimination in various aspects but we've come a long way from even 50 years ago.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Silent Majority
      Ronald Reagan was the first president to prove that the role of POTUS is largely ceremonial.
      The man had quite literally lost his mind in his second term.
      His Iran Contra testimony in which he claimed not to remember anything only seems credible now that we know he was going senile.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Are you assuming that I have dehumanized people? I treat everybody the way I want to be treated. I never needed any history lessons to teach me this.
      That being said I do pay attention to history and the affect that discrimination had on others.

      Maybe you shouldn't come off like you are attacking everybody when there is no reason to. You seem to lump all Americans into one group of ignorant people.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • GodPot

      " Another angry atheiest it seems... Nothing to believe in but themselves."

      So I point out that while many of you are bemoaning the fact that CNN is has another article on lynching saying we should move past this and bury the past because hey, you didn't hang those guys, all while you shout and stomp your feet about another violent murder in history you tell us we should never forget. I'll bet your crucifix has a fairly white Christ hanging from it, maybe that's why it bothers you more than the photo above...

      April 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Baby kitty

      Rolph, we did send troops there AND bombed strategic places to help in the civil war (in which 30000) were killed. Why hasn't Obama brought our troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq? I am not guilty of even one act of oppression. Look elsewhere.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • GodPot

      "You seem to lump all Americans into one group of ignorant people." Only to those ignorant posters here on the forums, any like-minded people who read my post know exactly who it was aimed at and have no problem with me pointing it out. Only the ones that feel the sting of truth in their own conscience will post vehement denials and attempt to make excuses to shirk the shame they know they are a part of.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      I will point out GodPot, that I am not bemoaning the article. I am bemoaning the people that seem to think I should be lumped in with all of the other ignorant people just because I am white.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Rolph

      You really are stupid. Obama did bring the troops out of Iraq.

      Did you vote for W in 2004? Did you ever say you supported those war, or the waterboarding was appropriate, or Guantanamo needed to exist?

      I do not believe in guilt by association, but if you, a voter, support your country's worst behavior, then you have chosen guilt. That's part of your responsibilities as a citizen in a representative form of government.

      I do note that you are trying very hard to avoid all responsibility for anything.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Usually when somebody says something like "all of the ignorant Americans", they are referring to Americans as a whole. That being, I assumed you were referring to me included. I do not appreciate when I get lumped into this group.

      I do find it very telling that you are very intolerant of people with beliefs different than yours though. You should "TOLERANCE!" and then immediately proceed to bash Christians.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Baby kitty

      Whatever, Rolph. I am personally responsible for whatever I have personally done, which doesn't include mass murder in other countries. You must be the stupid one if you think Obama brought ALL of our troops home when he promised to instead of 3 years later. At least I read the news enough to know what's going on. I am guessing that you must feel responsible for the war and mayhem in the world, then, since you think voting for someone makes you responsible for anything that happens under their administration.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Usually when somebody says something like "all of the ignorant Americans", they are referring to Americans as a whole."

      Strange, I am a white American born in Ohio to a large white protestant family and I do not consider myself an "ignorant American" because I do not want to forget the crimes of our ancestors, who I specifically called out in my first line above that you reference. If I had said "To all Americans" that would have been inclusive, but I was speaking just to the ignorant side of America who would rather stay ignorant of our past because it seems to make their tiny brains hurt. You may not be among them, so I applaud you for accepting our past and working hard continuing what the civil rights movement started and striving for racial and gender equality. If you are not, then yes, I was talking about you.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Baby Kitty
      Once America establishes a military presence in a foreign country, they never leave entirely.
      Why do you think there are still bases in Germany, Ja.pan, Korea, Bosnia, Kuwait, Kosovo, Italy, Panama etc.
      It is simply the politics of Empire.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  2. babykitty

    "Between 1880 and 1940, Cone says, an estimated 5,000 black men and women were lynched."

    Why didn't he employ an editor? A simple fact check will tell you that of the 4,743 people lynched from 1882 to 1968, 3446 were black. Hardly the "5000" he states. Why the lie?

    April 23, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  3. electricdubb

    Well freeman I would quit speaking for the black race than because you are part of the minority among them. You would think someone with a master's degree would be a little more wise to real life situations blacks themselves put each other in.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  4. Freeman

    I dont want anything from anyone, and i dont think anyone else does either, we already will never know who we actually are unlike yourself, africa is a continent not a country, somewhere in that space i have family that i will never know, and that is because of the crimes of another group of indiviuals based on my skin color, I hate doing this via text becaue I take on the persona of being angry, i believe i can speak for many of us when i say we are HURT more than anything that after all that has been done, all the free labor, all the killings and discrimination that best that could be said is get over it. thats all america has to offer those who helped build this country is the mentality that we should get over it, its sad, and unllke your ancestors we dont have anywhere to go

    April 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • electricdubb

      Do you think I could just go to a European country and say take me? Lol It would never happen. Trayvon's parents even trademarked his name to make a profit. The black communities do want something and I bet if we threw 500 dollars at every black person in the United states they would be quiet for at least one month.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  5. Joe Peterson

    A number of African-american theologians/pastors I have seen are about money (prosperity) or politics and tend to interpret the bible accordingly. This is sad for these churches turn into political/financial havens and less the churches of God.
    Similarly their counterparts are more often concerned with Americana theology and often do not embrace the greater body of Christ outside of a week of missionary visits.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  6. urafkntool

    It's considered perfectly sane and rational for nigs to r–a–p–e, mur-der, rob, and generally villanize whites. If we say a single cross word about the chimps, we're "racists." This just proves one thing to me:

    Anti-Racism is a codeword for Anti-White.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • YeahRright

      Grow up and get an education.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Edgar Allen

      Nice bit of Poe.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • urafkntool

      @YeahRight: Considering the fact that I'm currently persuing a bachelor's degree in IT with an emphasis on Network Security, as well as having a certification as a medical assistant, as well as having been on the Dean's list at my last college, I think it's safe to say my education is far, far superior to yours, which was only an indoctrination and brainwashing. Not only that, but I'm also currently changing jobs to one making 15.00 per hour base pay with plenty of large bonuses and great benefits. Try again. And do some research. The media never says a word about black racism and black on white violence, but if a white says or does ANYTHING, we're evil.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Snow

      Any moron can pull words out of their a$$ and make up false statements.. but someone speaking truth will surely have some citations to back what they say.. Which of these are you?

      April 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Rolph

      Dean's list at a community college. Wow. Very impressed. Gonna make a whopping $15 an hour. Golly.

      If you aren't a Poe, you're a joke.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • fred


      Tell me that was a typo. Please tell me you didn't just boast about making $15/hour. If that’s the best you can do with all that education, I ‘d say it’s time to give up on educating yourself because it’s clearly not working.

      u r a fkn tool indeed.


      April 23, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "@YeahRight: Considering the fact that I'm currently persuing a bachelor's degree in IT with an emphasis on Network Security, as well as having a certification as a medical assistant, as well as having been on the Dean's list at my last college, I think it's safe to say my education is far, far superior to yours, which was only an indoctrination and brainwashing."

      LMAO! You have no idea who I am but the fact you had to go to such lengths to justify your ego speaks volumes on your emotional maturity.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Urafkntool

      @Snow: Go do some research, look at the sheer numbers of anti-white crimes being committed and NOT being reported by the mainstream media. Kid set on fire in Kansas City. Guy beaten and stripped in black neighborhood because he's white. It happens all the time. Women gang r–a–p–e–d by black gangs. It's normal life for blacks. There's also a highly educational work called "The Color of Crime," as well as debates by a highly intellectual, well spoken and researched individual named Jared Taylor. All easily found.

      @Rolph: NEver went to a community college. Actually, I started out at Ashford University, where I got my associates, and now I'm transferring either to Capella or Southern New Hampshire University for my Bachelors.

      @Fred: Actually, the job I'm getting has nothing to do with my education. I haven't even finished my education yet, and the job itself has that base pay with enormous production bonuses as well as incredible benefits. Next?

      April 23, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You're "persuing"?

      No wonder you had to go to a community college. Your SAT scores must have been in the crapper.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Urafkntool

      @YeahRight: I'll bet you're black, thus you actually benefit from the anti-white racism prevalent in the media in this country. If not, then you're a race traitor and a fool.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ahahhhahhahah! Fifteen whole dollars an hour!!!! Whoo and Hoooo.

      You really are a tool.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What exactly is a 'race traitor' Toolie?

      April 23, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "@YeahRight: I'll bet you're black, thus you actually benefit from the anti-white racism prevalent in the media in this country. If not, then you're a race traitor and a fool.'

      Guess you missed this lesson. Emotional maturity is defined as: the ability to express one’s own feelings and convictions balanced with consideration for the thoughts and feelings of others.

      By the way I make a little over 96 dollars an hour.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  7. Raksha

    @ Know What

    You're right. Guess I think more in terms of education, than in stirring things up.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  8. RoseMcB

    Looking at that picture, seeing all those shining white faces of good, upstanding American Christians with family values, I feel ill. They all look like they are at the county fair, having a great time while two young men are dead, hanging from a tree. Didn't even ONE (1) of them question the morality of that? Consider the families of these men? At least consider that it was flat out murder? It was 1930. Not that long ago. Certainly in a country progressed enough in culture and democracy to have known better. It's sickening.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • YeahRright

      Christianity has done many horrific things in the history of this country, the problem is they try to sweep it under the rug and hide it from those they want to convert to their religious cult. Christians also killed more Indians in stealing their land from them than Hitler killed Jews. They can preach their bible but when it really counts they don't follow it at all. Look at the gay issue, it's mostly Christians that are still voting to deny them their civil rights too while fueling the hatred and bigotry towards that minority group. Obviously they didn't learn from the past.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Yes they did kill a lot of Native Americans but I find it hard to believe it was over 5 million.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Yes they did kill a lot of Native Americans but I find it hard to believe it was over 5 million."

      Based on the mass graves they discovered the number stands around 50 million.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  9. Cassie

    Instead of wanting to do away with true American history, why not embrace it. After all, true healing starts with acknowledging and accepting the past. Educate young children on what really happened during those times and I bet they will have love and compassion in their hearts towards all minorities. And when anyone tries to poison their minds with racial biases, they'll be able to reject the bigotry because they will be well informed. As far as Christianity goes, "until you learn to love everyone, black, white, puerto rican, mexican, asian, etc., you will not make it into heaven." Love is the only way!

    April 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  10. Observant Historian

    Look at how many people get on here, spew their racist nonsense, and in the same breath claim racism is a thing of the past! Like most "conservative" positions, their arguments are transparently ridiculous, but they can't see it. There is no point in arguing with them – they are willfully ignorant and revel in it.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Just So

      That has been the tactic for a few decades now: reverse whatever is said, no matter how ridiculous it becomes. "Some whites are racist" becomes "all blacks are racist."

      At least in older times, racists did not hide their racism and pretend they weren't. They at least had the courage of their convicitons, even if those convictions were repugnant. Now the racists are slithering liars who swear they are not racists.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • urafkntool

      Racism will never be gone as long as races are forced to live together. Put every race in the countries they built and belong in. Blacks in Africa, Asians in their Asian countries, Whites in the US, Canada, Europe, Jews and Arabs in the Middle East. It's the ONLY way to eliminate racism.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Snow

      @urafkntool.. I have never had the (mis)fortune of hearing a bigger idiot speak..

      BTW if your halfa$$ed ideological world were to be built, where do you think you should be shipped? obviously you do not belong to this country, but your anscestors came to this continent, killed its natives and called it their own.. So, following your logic, get your a$$ out of this country first before preaching your ideas..

      April 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Urafkntool

      @Snow: There's something wrong with you. "my" ancestors (Caucasoids) were here long before the "Native Americans" (actually mongoloid invaders from the steppes of Siberia and northern Mongolia). Take a look up at Kennewick Man, who's skull and bone structure are actually almost identical with current Caucasoid bone structure and skull shape, as opposed to Mongoloid or Chimpoid.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @Snow, can you believe this wackaloon?

      How does someone this nutty manage to stay out of a mental inst itution?

      April 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @Tool: "Who's skull..."

      "Who is skull"? Did you perhaps mean, "Whose skull"?

      You're a f3ckin' idiot.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Urafkntool

      @Dumb, Dumb, the n-i-g's son,

      I think I'll report you for stalking. Have a nice day.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You do that, honey. I welcome it.

      Now, answer the question: what exactly does it mean to be a 'race traitor'?

      Maybe that information is above your "pay grade" of a whopping $15 an hour.

      How do idiots like you manage to tie your own shoes?

      April 23, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I wager that the reason you're turning tail is because you're afraid, and rightly so, that I'll report you AGAIN for posting hate speech here.

      Don't let the door hit you in the head...um...azz...um.. can't tell which is which on you.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Telling isn't it, how fast Toolie turned and beat a hasty retreat? Such a big, brave savior of his race, isn't he?

      Little dweeb.

      April 23, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  11. Clarification Needed Please

    Why is it that the people who swear that white people have no ongoing guilt because of what was done years ago to blacks are the same people who swear that all people have an ongoing guilt because of what a couple of mythological characters did back at the beginning of time?

    April 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • mandarax

      Excellent point.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  12. joe

    Ok, I have found an atheist (godpot) and a christian (Rev. Howard Davis) make very reasoned and enlightened statements on this topic.

    I take back my earlier post and apologize to both groups. Thank you, both of you have restored my faith in humanity.

    April 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Truth

      If you think Godpot posts rational and humane comments then you clearly haven't read much of the things he's posted. He's posted some decent things before but the majority of his posts are the exact opposite. Can't speak about the other person bc I haven't read many of his posts.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Kermit

      I am a white woman raised in the South. My father was KKK.

      I am ashamed to be white. Black history is left out of history books as though it does not matter.

      Only when (and if) we stop hating, can there ever be healing.

      I want desparately to be wrong, I just can't see healing. Some white folks (mostly South) hate blacks
      so much that I wish they would succeed the "union."

      I saw stuff before I was 10 years old that was depicted in a movie with Cecily Tyson "The autobiography of Miss
      Jane Pittman."

      The hate is passed from one generation to another.

      The white churches are just as guilty as those who tied the knots in the nooses around necks. They
      never spoke a word. Shame on them, and shame on all of us for creating a culture of hate for our children.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • babykitty

      Kermit, no one should be ashamed of their skin color. That is ridiculous. Maybe if you had read more than one history book, you would have seen that there are good and evil people of EVERY skin color and that no one people holds the trump card on evilness. Take responsibility for yourself and judge people by the content of their character.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • urafkntool

      @Kermit: Get over it. Be proud of your race and your race's history. We've built more civilizations, produced more philosophy, more intellectual capability, more inventions (running water anyone? Electricity?) than anyone else.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • bob

      babykitty, then why do you judge black people , as a group, so harshly? A few comments about hurting white people (which I have not seen) makes you talk poorly about all black people in your previous posts, and, it then allows you to justify all of the negative comments made by white racists on this forum?

      Quit trying to defend the racism that Kermit saw as a child! It was prevalent in the churches, government, and throughout the whites (only) society that existed at that time. And, yes it still exists today. The only reason you do not see it out in the open, in the south, today is because the federal government will put you in jail for a hate crime – for which I say thank you.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • babykitty

      Bob, where did I judge black people as a group harshly? I merely pointed out that there were racist comments from other people besides whites.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • bob

      babykitty, you defend your racism by pointing out another persons racism. Just another "Yah, But" – republican.

      I have the right to do something wrong because someone else did something wrong too – rush limbaugh has taught you well.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • GodPot

      " the majority of his posts are the exact opposite." I am sorry that you disagree with many of my posts "Truth" but show me where I was not rational and humane? Pointing out the corrupt nature of most organized religion and the hypocrisy of the religious right as I often do is neither irrational nor inhumane, even if it does rub you the wrong way at times.

      April 24, 2012 at 4:44 am |
  13. GySgtG

    CNN stirring the race pot looking to start a race war.

    April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  14. GodPot

    Racism has been wiped out in America just like child po.rnography has been elimintaed...

    It's just been moved to dark little corners of peoples hearts, minds and hidden flash drives...

    April 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Truth

      look to the hate in your own heart before pointing the finger at others. Judging by your many posts, your hate and bitterness is astronomical. I help out whoever, no matter the race, if I can. Once you realize that these articles are printed solely for ratings and money then you can see them for what they are; stories created solely to stir peoples emotions and create the most sensationalist article (hint; these kind of articles make more money for CNN).

      Are there still racists out there? Ofcourse, and they come in every color. Racism however is more rare than these garbage article make you believe.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  15. ProudAfAmerican

    To all the white people who are so tired of African Americans whining about inequality, how many of you would trade places with a regular African American? Not an NBA star or pop singer, just a regular black person that you CLAIM has more opportunities than you do. TRADE PLACES, then tell me how fair life is.

    April 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • electricdubb

      Yea right, I would like to know my father.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Wakeupamerica

      Once I traded places. I would find a women I loved, have a family. Move out of the city to a low income housing community. Work 2 jobs if needed. Keep my kids in school. Then send them to a state college for free. I would teach them the importance of family, working hard, taking responsiblity..... I would not let them focus on hatred of whites and I would teach them to be respectful of all races. Every black family that has done this in my community has kicked ass and is doing great !!!

      April 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Truth

      I'd trade, assuming I was the same person, intelligence, etc. I'd probably have gotten into a better college and probably be further along my career path. I can promise you that I wouldn't have been restricted by that, it only would've helped. I'm not racist but that's the truth, affirmative action is similar to anti white racism.

      Now talking about the merits of affirmative action is a whole different story. But you asked about trading places assuming all else is equal so I answered your question.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      I don't want to trade places with anybody. Are you saying that you would trade places with a white person if you could? So much for being a Proud Af American then. I'm sorry you are so shamed by your skin color.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  16. electricdubb

    Whats it gonna take to get you people to quit crying about slavery? Money? Will that ease the suffering? Get a suit and tie, get a car without 20 inch rims, and get a job. Everyone else has to do it.

    April 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  17. Wakeupamerica


    You've GOT to be kidding- are you in a dream world? You probably believe we're in a post-racial era. Spppft! How dare you say they have nothing to be angry about. Did we not just witness an innocent black man run over by some dumb kid's pick up truck for no reason? Are Blacks and Hispanics still not the poorest in our country? Go read a book and get real.

    My response, what about the millions of black on white crimes that are committed each year and never reported by the media ? Blacks are the poorest because blacks haven't taken on the drive or responsibility to become anything else other than a professional athlete, rapper, entertainer....... Don't believe me ? In 10-20 years, hispancics will be on the same level as everyone else in this nation. That's about the amount time it has taken for each culture to fit in and come up to speed.

    April 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  18. Silent Majority

    I think Mr. Cone needs to check out the latest FBI statistics on racial crime. Black on white crime is far more prevalent, which is a CURRENT ongoing issue! Not a past issue where he is saying they shoulda, coulda, woulda. African Americans in the United States have far more opportunities than anywhere else in the world! I dont agree with the way African Americans were treated in the past, but it is in the PAST! It is time for a non-rasist caucasen organization to speak for the silent majority. I am white and I am tired of the left wing liberal swing on things that continually try to make white americans out to be evil and guilty. Also Mr. Cone in the Bible Jesus's sole reason for coming and dying on the cross was for our sins so we could make it to heaven. Not social injustice. Read your Bible sir if your going to misrepresent it at least get down the true overall meaning of the single most important reason Christ came and died for you and I. Our sin. Whit Americans you have a voice, be heard. be fair but be heard!

    April 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • ProudAfAmerican

      If you believe that a group of people who were not permitted to learn to read and write just a few generations back, are on equal ground with the same people who continue to oppress them today, then you are living in a fantasy world.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Roger Ramjet

      "a non-rasist caucasen organization"

      If I can suggest a name for them, it would be the "gud spellars"

      April 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • babykitty

      ProudAfAmerican, George Washington Carver did pretty well...

      April 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Silent Majority

      to "ProudAFAmerican"- most kids can read and write by age 5 pretty well. Agreed the past was bad, but if someone is always looking back, then they are not looking forward.....dont forget it, just dont harp on it constantly.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Freeman

      never said anything about wanting anything handed to anyone, just wish it could be discussed without people who have dont know how it feels chiming in saying to forget about it, I go to sleep black and wake up black, i graduated from pitt black and went back for my masters black, i dont want to be handed anything, what i would like is the ability to reflect on how far my people have come and how much we as a whole have endured without some person who doesnt understand it telling me to get over it

      April 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • electricdubb

      Freeman, with your master's degree you cannot possibly compare yourself to the masses of poor black communities that have a 50% single mother ratio and gang bangers patrolling the streets. Wake up. Go to one of these neighborhoods and just watch the people roaming about. And I do mean roaming. Doing absolutely nothing.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  19. D. Evil

    Cone is an idiot, all races were lynched... whites, blacks, mexicans and asians. If you posed a threat or commited a crime to a person or the community over and over you were lynhced as a last resort. What blacks so easily forget was that a white man set them free and his name was Abraham Lincoln.

    April 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • GodPot

      "If you posed a threat or commited a crime to a person or the community over and over you were lynhced as a last resort." Right, they "posed a threat" by being black, over and over, everytime they showed their faces they were black so what other option did they have? Whites felt threatened by blacks so they had no other choice but to lynch them, right? It's your kind of blatant ignorance that has allowed racism not only to continue but to thrive in America. You should feel ashamed but instead you turn on those calling for justice and claim reverse racism so you can claim to be the victim and wash yourself of any guilt.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • babykitty

      Once again, godpot, there is no such thing as reverse racism.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • GodPot

      "there is no such thing as reverse racism." I would agree, I did not say there is "reverse racism" I said certain people like to "claim" reverse racism.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • PhD

      You should reconsider this thought...it sounds quite ignorant! Abraham Lincoln did nothing but sign a sheet of paper. There were hundreds of thousands of slaves that were stagnant because the law was not enforced. Read a book and then comment again. Maybe even research June 10th along the way. Please and thank you.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "Once again, godpot, there is no such thing as reverse racism."
      Curious, and perhaps I missed the discussion previously, but is "reverse racism," impossible by definition or are you saying it just doesn't happen?

      April 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • babykitty

      "reverse racism" implies that only one group can be "racist". Any group can be racist.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • babykitty

      PhD, I think you mean June 19th. I feel embarrassed for you.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  20. Joan

    CNN, you are doing nothing but provoking hatred.

    April 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • ProudAfAmerican

      CLEARLY, the hatred has always existed. CNN is just giving the racist COWARDS a way to speak their minds, while remaining anonymous.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • ProudAfAmerican

      How is that? By telling the truth?

      April 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Wakeupamerica

      Are gangs of armed blacks attacking unarmed white individuals racist cowards ? Just trying to understand your definition of racist cowards.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • ProudAfAmerican

      You must be one of them.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Freeman

      i love how every white person has a problem when something about the sensless killing of blacks is reported or brought up. they call it reverse racism when info like this is reported, forget about it, let and let live, my great grand father was lynched, Ill never forget

      April 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • electricdubb

      Freeman the people who did these crimes are dead. Who are you blaming?

      April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Freeman

      I dont blame a soul for anything. my biggest problem is the backlash that occurs whenever any of it is mentioned, the welfare jokes, the racist comments, my point is pain is pain regardless of who it affects. so who is ANYONE to tell me or any other person to "get over it" thats the issue with those who are privelaged, privelaged to know where they come from, privelaged to know that their ancestors did something more productive with the first 400 years of time in this country, priveledge to have not been beaten and attacked for trying to vote or attend school, these are the things that everyone wants us to forget, and it isnt fair. so my point is you can make all the comments you want about me going back to africa or getting off welfare (which im not on) but it isnt going to change the fact that it wont be forgotten

      April 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • electricdubb

      If I lived in the past could I blame my situation on a foreign king for persecuting my ancestors to the point they moved to a foreign land? Would that help society by any means? Who is supposed to help me? I don't care if you remember or forget what you have read about slavery. Yea it happened. Martin Luther King would be pretty upset I am sure if he saw how his race was acting after all of the real racism he had to go through to make things better for his people. America is a place for the individual to work hard and accomplish their dreams not for the a large group to get a handout.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Freeman

      does that king continue to prosecute your people? when is the last time some one from england came to america and ran someone you know over with a pick up truck, have you ever been called a N****, or been racially profiled and beaten, has anyone you know had any of that done to them? these are thing african americans still face on a daily basis, because you know what everyone involved in those actviities isnt dead, and those who are taught their children, continuing the cycle, I dont hate anyone, i just know i dont have the priviledge of thinking the way you do, because it could get me killed

      April 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • electricdubb

      I have never called any person a n***** . The only people I hear saying it are black. I get called white boy by blacks. Is this okay? I get it that you are angry about the past fine you can have that. But what else do you people want? a job handed to you? money? housing? You have that, what else can be done for you?

      April 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • electricdubb

      I have never called any person a n***** . The only people I hear saying it are black. I get called white boy by blacks. Is this okay? I get it that you are angry about the past fine you can have that. But what else do you people want? a job handed to you? money? housing? You have that, what else can be done for you? Wearing the wrong color t-shirt can get me killed in a black neighborhood.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
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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.