Since the arrival of African Americans in this country blacks have always had differing experiences. Consequently, African-Americans have had to forge a self-identity out of what has been passed on to them as fact about their true selves. History has wrought oppression and subjugation to this particular race of people and as a result, certain institutions were formed in order aid African-Americans, culturally, spiritually and economically. The African-American Church has served of one such institution. From the time of slavery, though outlawed, many slaves found ways to congregate and form their own "churches", away from the one-sided and bias lessons about the bible that they were being taught in the white church. The white ministers and
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Churches have always played a major role in the politics of the African-American community. By increasing racial empowerment through a better relatedness to the image of God you increase participation in the Black church, and by increasing participation in the Black church you increase political power and influence in the Black community.
During the 1960's in America, a significant increase in the role of the church, particularly as it relates to the Civil Rights Movement was evident. Significant changes in the attitudes of African-Americans centered around the church and with its basis in liberation theology. The most noted religious leader of this time was Dr. Martin Luther King. Almost all of the rhetoric that he used was centered on liberation ideology. This is possibly one if the most influential moments in the church in the lives of African-Americans. The lessons and beliefs that were held were reminiscent of the early slave churches that would not accept the white philosophy of religion. By the adoption of black theology that disregarded a white view of religion, blacks were empowered to forge their status in society which was the main premise of the Civil Rights movement.
Malcolm X, whose philosophy of racial uplift was completely different than that of Dr. King, still had many characteristics that were rooted in the principles of black theology. He too rejected the white perspective of religion which