By: Jacqueline C. Rivers
A deep-rooted faith in the person of Jesus and a pervasive application of the theology of the Black Church were the powerhouses of the life of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. King was a son of the Black Church, raised in Ebenezer Baptist Church by his clergyman father. Since the founding of the first black denomination in the eighteenth century, a major focus of the Black Church has been the pursuit of racial and social justice for its members. This was not merely a matter of convenience arising from the oppression and suffering that were pervasive in black life. The central motif in blacks’ understanding of Christianity is the Exodus narrative. For blacks, the Civil War and the resulting emancipation of the slaves were acts of divine justice and their own personal exodus story. God is the deliverer who rescues the oppressed and scatters our enemies before us. Since, as his children, the Black Church bears the imago Dei, we too fight injustice and rescue the downtrodden.