The neighborhood has long been home to numerous historic and not-so-historic houses of worship of nearly every size and type. Here you can find congregations of Muslims, Hebrew Israelites, AMEs, Baptists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, and everything else in between.
So who cares if a few churches have to be razed to make Harlem “great again,” right?
Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is the second Bonhoeffer book by the University of Virginia religion scholar, Dr. Charles Marsh, whose many other books include analyses of civil rights figures and history. Marsh is himself a child of the south, and his authored works have centered on prominent figures who model a commitment to justice in the face of southern white supremacy. Strange Glory is no different. Marsh’s depiction of Bonhoeffer is the first cradle-to-grave biography to highlight the seminal nature of Bonhoeffer’s experience in America, with African Americans, for his prophetic resistance to Nazism. Marsh also speculates that Bonhoeffer harbored an unrequited longing for more than friendship from his student and closest friend, Eberhard Bethge. Yet, with Strange Glory, I find speculation about Bonhoeffer’s sexuality less intriguing than the question of what Marsh’s representation of Bonhoeffer intends to offer us today.
Bonhoeffer spent a significant amount of time in Harlem while he was a postdoctoral student in America at Union Theological Seminary during the 1930-31 school year. Bonhoeffer became a lay leader at Abyssinian Baptist Church, and many Bonhoeffer scholars believe that his time there was seminal for his prophetic Christian resistance to Nazis. Yet Bonhoeffer’s relationship with Harlem is somewhat ambiguous for the Bonhoeffer that Marsh constructs. Instead, he emphasizes Bonhoeffer’s travels through the Jim Crow South, positioning the south (or, southern blackness) over against the north or northern, Harlem blackness as the primary source of African-American Christian influence on Bonhoeffer.
In fact, Harlem blackness gets a bad rap in Marsh’s Bonhoeffer story with this juxtaposition of southern vs. northern blackness.
Editor’s Note: This post contains two of many testimonies given at an Environmental Protection Agency listening session at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. The EPA held sessions in 11 regional offices across the country to allow the public to comment on the agency’s plans to begin regulating carbon dioxide emissions — one of the heat-trapping pollutants that contributes to climate change — from existing coal and natural gas-fired power plants. The public was invited to share up to three minutes of spoken testimony to an EPA panel for the agency’s consideration.
My name is Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome and I am a federal policy analyst at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a 25-year-old community based environmental justice organization based in Harlem, N.Y. However, I work out of our Washington, D.C. office, mostly engaging in federal policy. Although I am in a different location, WE ACT D.C. has the same mission: to build healthy communities by insuring all voices help shape environmental policy and practices so that they are fair.
As a public health researcher who has seen the impacts of temperature, air pollution, and climate changes on urban-dwelling seniors in low income communities of color, I am clear about the need for and the importance of the testimony that I, and hopefully other environmental justice organizations, will offer here today. While three minutes is not a lot of time, I do have a couple of "calls to action" to uplift as you continue your work:
- Recognize the deficiency.
- Recognize the cumulative impacts.
I was groomed in a Latino home where nail salons were viewed as rites of passage for becoming a senorita — growing young lady. Sometimes when I’m looking for some TLC, I head to my local nail salon in East Harlem. I could go to a more upscale salon, but here at Pretty Nail Salon, is where I want to be — connected to a neighborhood of ladies who have utilized storefront nail salons, beauty parlors, and hair-braiding places as makeshift therapeutic spaces where counsel and support is just as paramount to looking beautiful.
I have also discovered that nail salons are burgeoning places of policy concerns. Pretty Nail Salon has provided me with an informal education on how social policy affects the everyday day lives of working class folks. Our presidential candidates could also benefit from an appointment at Pretty Nail Salon, to listen to the local narratives and deepen their understanding of how social policy is affecting the lives of the urban poor and working class.
More Than Equals, co-authored by Chris Rice and the late Spencer Perkins, is considered one of the pivotal books in the Christian racial reconciliation movement that found its greatest momentum in the early and mid-1990s.
James Baldwin was widely known as the most eloquent literary spokesperson in the black struggle for equality during the civil rights movement. A novelist, playwright, poet, and essayist, he was said by reviewers to have been able to "make one begin to feel what it is really like to have a black skin in a white man's world." Among Baldwin's works are Go Tell It on the Mountain, Another Country, and The Fire Next Time. Baldwin died of stomach cancer, on December 1, 1987, at his home in southern France, where he spent much of his life following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. He was 63. The following reflections on James Baldwin are offered by Sojourners contributing editor Vincent Harding, who was a professor of religion and social transformation at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado when this article appeared. -- The Editors
We have lost a great lover.
That was clear at the beginning of December when the first telephone call reached me, bearing the stunning news of James Baldwin's death. It is even more apparent now, as the more measured rhythms of monthly journalism deadlines move us beyond the initial shock and sadness, inviting us to extend, and thereby deepen, our mourning and our remembering. Indeed, now it is possible to carry Jimmy's memories into all the ambivalent national celebrations of his friend, Martin King, as well as to let his powerful sense of the humanizing uses of tragedy illuminate the meaning of what we call Black History Month, observed each February.
Such a conjunction of recollection and hope is more than accidental, for Baldwin cared deeply about King and understood his "much-loved and menaced" younger brother far better than most of us. In the same way, it is surely the case that no one in our generation felt more deeply or expressed more eloquently all the harshened beauty and the creative significance of the African-American pilgrimage on this soil. And now Jimmy continues his own journey -- relieved, I trust, of the continuing anguish which inhabited his fragile but resilient being here on earth.
I shall miss him. Having begun where he began, in Harlem (his seven-year start on me and a variety of different life-choices did not allow us to meet consciously until the Southern freedom movement brought us together -- but I know our earlier steps must have met somewhere on the beleaguered streets of our hometown), having crossed paths and shared hopes and fears together in a variety of other times and places, I am tempted to feel a special, personal loss.
But neither Jimmy's pain nor his love could ever be monopolized. He quite literally belonged to us all whether we wanted him or not. And that was his great gift, his awesome, sometimes terrifying, offering -- terrifying, partly because he saw and spoke and wrote so much that we recognized as truth, partly because he challenged all of us to link arms and lives and walk through the purifying fires with him.