Two Hundred Years Of African American Prayer

With guest host Michel Martin.

“Conversations with God,” – the story told by two centuries of African American prayer.

Morma Francis, of Atlanta, raises her hand to ask a question during a community town hall forum at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church where The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP)

Morma Francis, of Atlanta, raises her hand to ask a question during a community town hall forum at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church where The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP)

This weekend, protests and vigils around the country. The nation continues to grapple with the deaths of black men in police encounters. Soul searching and sermons… part of the long history of how African Americans have wrestled with suffering and spoken to God. Two decades ago, historian and Minister James Melvin Washington put together a collection of prayers spanning more than 200 years – penned by authors from Phyllis Wheatley to Frederick Douglass to Martin Luther King. This hour, On Point: “Conversations with God,” then and now.

— Michel Martin


Quinton Dixie, associate professor of religious studies and director of the Ethnic and Cultural Studies program at Indiana University – Purdue University at Fort Wayne. Colleague of the late James Melvin Washington, editor of “Conversations With God: Two Centures of Prayers by African Americans.”

Rev. Willis Johnson, pastor at Wellspring Church in Ferguson, MO. (@fwillisjohnson)

From The Reading List

Washington Post: Churches ask congregants to wear black on #blacklivesmatter Sunday –“The Reverend Dr. Grainger Browning, pastor of the 8,000-member Ebenezer AME in Fort Washington, Md., said Monday that he plans to turn over the pulpit for both services to youth ministers ‘so the younger voice can be heard.’ Last Sunday, Browning said, he asked his largely African-American congregation during services how many people have had some negative interaction with police ‘and 99 percent of the hands rose.'”

Huffington Post:Black Lives Matter — Go to an African American Church in Solidarity This Sunday Morning — “This is a discussion which can’t stay at the level of pointing out how spineless and hence disappointing President Obama has been, how absent of a positive message the Democratic Party has been, how splintered and unable to cooperate have been the various organizations and movements of the liberal and progressive Left. We need to look deeper. The issue of racism, after all, is really the issue of ‘othering’ — taking some group and making them the demeaned other. What pain in people’s lives makes this othering so attractive?”

Grist: Black church leaders rev up for climate justice — “It’s a common misconception that churches haven’t been doing their part in the green fight — and black churches in particular. Your John Birch and Alan Keyes Christians notwithstanding, that’s not entirely true.”

Read An Excerpt Of “Conversations With God,” Edited by James Melvin Washington

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
May 30, 2016
Author and Harvard Business School social psychologist Amy Cuddy. (Photo by Bob O'Connor / Courtesy The Author)

Strike a power pose. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy on the power of presence when you’re ready to act and win.

May 30, 2016
Rock icon Donald Fagen looks back on a lengthy and ongoing career in his new memoir 'Eminent Hipsters.' He co-founded the classic rock group Steely Dan with Walter Becker in 1972. (Penguin Books USA)

Steely Dan frontman Donald Fagen talks “eminent hipsters” and the cultural outliers that shaped his sound. He joins us.

May 27, 2016
In this Oct. 27, 2015, photo,  Big Muddy Farms, an urban farm in northern Omaha, Neb. is seen amongst residential homes. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, we’ve got top gardeners spilling the beans on how to grow everything.

May 27, 2016
Riot police block off the Albuquerque Convention Center to anti-Trump protests following a rally and speech by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the convention center where the event was held, in Albuquerque, N.M., Tuesday, May 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Obama at Hiroshima. Turmoil at Trump rallies. Clinton’s emails, heating up. Sanders predicts a “messy” convention. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
In The Garden, Mother Nature Makes The Rules
Friday, May 27, 2016

Executive producer Karen Shiffman explains why she turns to her garden for food, friends and natrual comfort.

More »
WWII Vet Larry Kirby Reflects On American Values
Thursday, May 26, 2016

Looking ahead to Memorial Day, a World War II veteran looks back at the experiences that mattered to him, both in and out of war.

More »
Gloria Steinem Explains Her ‘Bernie Boys’ Comment
Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Feminist activist Gloria Steinem explains why her apparent diss of female supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders was anything but.

More »