James Cone, One of the Most Powerful Voices Shaping Black Liberation Theology, Won the 2018 Grawemeyer Award in Religion for His Book the Cross and the Lynching Tree

The Christian Century, January 3, 2018 | Go to article overview

James Cone, One of the Most Powerful Voices Shaping Black Liberation Theology, Won the 2018 Grawemeyer Award in Religion for His Book the Cross and the Lynching Tree


James Cone, one of the most powerful voices shaping black liberation theology, won the 2018 Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his book The Cross and the Lynching Tree.

In that work Cone, professor of systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, draws on the history of the public murders of African Americans from the post-Reconstruction era through the civil rights era.

"The crucifixion was clearly a first-century lynching," Cone said in a statement. "Both are symbols of the death of the innocent, mob hysteria, humiliation, and terror. They both also reveal a thirst for life that refuses to let the worst determine our final meaning and demonstrate that God can transform ugliness into beauty, into God's liberating presence."

The Grawemeyer Award, honoring "creative and significant insights into the relationship between human beings and the Divine," is given annually by the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the University of Louisville. The prize is one of five given in different fields and includes $100,000.

Cone, an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, is also author of Black Theology and Black Power (1969), A Black Theology of Liberation (1970), and the highly acclaimed God of the Oppressed (1975). …

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