Bishop Charles H. Mason in the Age of Jim Crow profiles the life and career of Charles Harrison Mason. Mason was the founder of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), which from its Memphis roots, grew into the most significant black Pentecostal denomination in the United States, with profound theological and political ramifications for poor and working-class black Memphians.
Bishop Charles H. Mason in the Age of Jim Crow is grounded in the history of the Jim Crow era. The book traces the origins of COGIC in Memphis; it reveals just how Mason’s new black Pentecostal denomination grew, gained social and political power, and earned a permanent place in Memphis’s black religious pantheon. This book tells how a son of slaves transformed a rural migrant movement into an urban phenomenon, how unusual religious demonstrations exemplified infrapolitical religious protests, and how these rituals of resistance changed black lives and helped strengthen and sustain blacks fighting for freedom in segregated Memphis. The author reveals why Charles H. Mason was an important pre-civil rights religious leader who laid the groundwork for integrated churches.
Elton H. Weaver III is assistant professor of history at LeMoyne-Owen College.
Introduction: Power in There
4Holy Ghost Power
5Property and Power
6No Blood Shedding Power
Conclusion: Plenipotentiary Power
Dr. Elton H. Weaver III’s biography of Bishop Charles H. Mason is genuinely groundbreaking. In this must-read work, Dr. Weaver thoroughly demonstrates his eminence as the foremost scholar on Bishop Mason and the history of the COGIC Church. At once intense and informative, Bishop Charles H. Mason in the Age of Jim Crow is written with sincere devotion and a profound sense of mission. It is sure to be an inspiration to anyone who seeks hope and direction, as well as understanding and insight in these troubled times. We are all indebted to Dr. Weaver.
Bishop Charles H. Mason in the Age of Jim Crow is a vital contribution to the history of African Americans, the US South, and American religion. As the largest black Pentecostal denomination in the United States, the Church of God and Christ deserves an explanation for its rise and appeal. Combining biography and institutional history, Dr. Weaver has written this history with skill and insight.
In this deeply sourced and contextualized synthetic overview of Bishop Charles H. Mason’s life and role as the founder of the COGIC archipelago of churches, Elton H. Weaver III revises the scholarship that downplays the intellectuality and political acumen of this charismatic leader. A vital contribution to COGIC church history, to African American history, to the history of Memphis, and to the power of Holiness Pentecostalism as a transformative force, Weaver’s book makes an essential contribution on multiple fronts.
Exploring an abundance of rare archival material and consulting with Mason’s descendants such as Lelia Mason Byas and Julia Mason Atkins, Weaver offers new details and fresh insight into Mason’s life and ministerial career and masterfully places him in the context of the American South and the Jim Crow era. Weaver beautifully grapples with race, class, and gender dynamics in Mason’s ministry... [This] book enhances appreciation for Mason’s faith and witness, which reverberates in the cogic and Black churches in the 21st century.