Jesus, Jobs, and Justice
Jesus, Jobs, and Justice
African American Women and Religion
Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9781400044207, 695pp.
Publication Date: February 2, 2010
Bettye Collier-Thomas's groundbreaking book gives us a remarkable account of the religious faith, social and political activism, and extraordinary resilience of black women during the centuries of American growth and change. It shows the beginnings of organized religion in slave communities and how the Bible was a source of inspiration; the enslaved saw in their condition a parallel to the suffering and persecution that Jesus had endured.
The author makes clear that while religion has been a guiding force in the lives of most African Americans, for black women it has been essential. As co-creators of churches, women were a central factor in their development. "Jesus, Jobs, and Justice" explores the ways in which women had to cope with sexism in black churches, as well as racism in mostly white denominations, in their efforts to create missionary societies and form women's conventions. It also reveals the hidden story of how issues of sex and sexuality have sometimes created tension and divisions within institutions.
Black church women created national organizations such as the National Association of Colored Women, the National League of Colored Republican Women, and the National Council of Negro Women. They worked in the interracial movement, in white-led Christian groups such as the YWCA and Church Women United, and in male-dominated organizations such as the NAACP and National Urban League to demand civil rights, equal employment, and educational opportunities, and to protest lynching, segregation, and discrimination. And black women missionaries sacrificed their lives in service to their African sisters whose destiny they believed was tied to theirs.
"Jesus, Jobs, and Justice "restores black women to their rightful place in American and black history and demonstrates their faith in themselves, their race, and their God.
"A revelation . . . [Collier-Thomas] details the contributions of black women to almost every important aspect of the struggle for racial justice . . . reassuringly authoritative . . . The women in this book are heroic and their stories moving, but their fight for respect and authority in the churches they worked so hard to build and support evokes the melancholia of unrequited love. It’s as if only a faith strong enough to endure slavery and overcome Jim Crow could compel them to give so much to institutions that offered them so little in return. "
—Richard Thompson Ford, The New York Times Book Review
"At long last Black church women get their due in Bettye Collier-Thomas’s exhaustive new book. . . the acclaimed Woodrow Wilson fellow charts the impressive contribution of sisters in the church movement."
"The first comprehensive history of African American women and their participation in religious institutions from slavery to present . . . an almost encyclopedic chronicle . . . A monumental work."
—Library Journal (starred)
"Collier-Thomas does an admirable job revealing and preserving the stories of the women as a group and, more importantly, as individuals . . . An important story well told."