Apocalyptic Rhetoric and the Black Protest Movement offers a challenging new formulation of African American religious culture by asserting that African American Christianity produced a militant millennialist movement that invoked the apocalypse, the kingdom of God, and the end of the world to compel Black people to oppose racial injustice in the early twentieth century. In this account of the Black civil rights movement in Boston in the early twentieth century, Aaron Pride argues that the apocalyptic rhetoric and millennial imagery disseminated from the Boston Guardian by William Monroe Trotter cast Booker T. Washington and other opponents of Black protest as false prophets, biblical villains, and harbingers of the end times. By placing Black Christianity at the center of Black civil rights activism in the early twentieth century, this book provides a seminal interpretation of the emancipatory capacity of religion as cultural and intellectual force in social and political movements. This book will be of interest to scholars of cultural history, Black studies, and the history of religion.
Aaron Pride is assistant professor of Africana studies at Lafayette College.
Chapter 1: The Apocalypse arrives in Black Boston: Booker T. Washington’s Rise in Jim Crow America
Chapter 2: The Ecclesiastical Tyranny of Mammon: The Dystopia of the Black Ministry and the Tuskegee Machine
Chapter 3: The Modern Moses of Mammon in the Black Apocalyptic Imagination
Chapter 4: Converting to the Cause: The Boston Riot and the Niagara Movement
Chapter 5: Prophetesses of the End Times: Black Women and the Iconography of the Apocalypse
Chapter 6: At Freedom’s End: World War I and the Quest for World Democracy
Chapter 7: We Shall Never Bend the Knee to Baal: The Reckoning with White Christendom.
Chapter 8: The Handwriting on the Wall: The Wrath of the Hand of God
Conclusion: Thy Kingdom Come
This book is a significant achievement in an often-overlooked aspect of African-American Christianity. Whereas most works focus upon either its foundations in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, or in the development of Black evangelicalism in the twentieth century, this much-needed study highlights the degrees to which millennialism and apocalypticism informed not just African-American Christianity in a specific time and place, but American Christianity and evangelicalism as a whole.