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"Our Father, God; Our Brother, Christ; or are we bastard kin?": images of Christ in African American painting.

On August 31, 1924, in New York City, Fourth International Convention of Negroes of the World closed with a unique ceremony that celebrated a Blessed Black Man of Sorrows and the Blessed Black Mary. With much fanfare and to a hall filled to capacity, a group of African American ministers declared Jesus to be black (Negro World 6 Sep. 1924: 4). This event indicated the growing need to clarify the color of God in the African American religious community. The heightened racial awareness spawned by the Harlem Renaissance brought the color of everyone, including Christ, to the fore.

This need began with the first converted slaves in the seventeenth century and reached its height in the 1920s and '30s. Minister Henry McNeal Turner addressed this issue in a sermon in 1898:

Every race of people since time began, who have attempted to describe

their God by words, or by paintings, or carvings, or by any other form

or figure, have conveyed the idea that the God who made them and

shaped their destiny was symbolized by themselves, and why should

not the Negro believe that he resembles God as much as any other people?

We do not believe that there is any hope for a race of people who

do not believe that they look like God. (Jones 37)

The black Christian's struggle to accept fully God and His "otherness" is greater and less easily reconciled than that of the white Christian, because of the black's need "to cope with a Western concept of God which implied that God is white" (Jones 38). Most believers assume they are made in God's image. However, as the black theologian Major J. Jones writes, "In a pro-white culture where one was treated less than human because of color, it became psychologically impossible for Black people not to have problems with God's color" (viii). Events such as the "canonization" of the Black Man of Sorrows and the Black Madonna attempted to recycle and remake white Christianity. Some blacks wholly rejected Christianity because of its connection with white oppression, and they converted to Judaism or Islam. For others, to reject this deeply rooted element of black culture was too painful, and they either ignored the hypocrisy or, like the thousands in Liberty Hall, remedied it.

Many black artists, such as Archibald Motley, Jr., William H. Johnson, Romare Bearden, and others, addressed this struggle in their art by depicting racialized biblical subjects or by including religious imagery in black genre scenes. The motif of the suffering Christ in their paintings engages issues of African American cultural identity which were relevant then and still are today. From depictions of the crucifix in black genre scenes to the conflation of the crucified Christ and the lynched black man, these images present Christ as a symbolic device charged with racial/religious meaning.

The poignant and intimate depictions of African American life by Archibald Motley, Jr. (1891-1980), both in the States and abroad were among many such works of art stemming from the Afrocentricism of the New Negro Movement and the Harlem Renaissance. The plethora of candid and sympathetic representations of blacks by blacks in the twenties and thirties responded to a tradition of derogatory imagery by white artists in both the fine and popular arts.(1) Black artists had seen enough of minstrels, sambos, and mammies and represented the African American to themselves and the white public.

The 1924 painting Mending Socks (Fig. 1) is one of Motley's best-known works. In the lower right section of the painting sits an elderly black woman, concentrating on the sewing in her lap. A vertical shadow in the center of the composition slices the painting in half. Directly to the right of this division is a large cross with a white, crucified Christ who hangs so close to the woman that it almost touches her forehead. The elderly figure is Motley's eighty-two-year-old grandmother Emily, who was culturally and personally significant as the strong black matriarch who had outlived all of the men. Because she had lived most of her life in the nineteenth century, she represented black history and culture itself. As an ex-slave and the daughter of slaves, she was a living link to past oppression and traditions.


As Jontyle Robinson and Wendy Greenhouse have noted, Motley has surrounded Emily with objects important to her: her favorite shawl and food, a brooch with a picture of her only daughter and her Bible--the blue table cloth may even represent her husband's Native American heritage (77). Other clues relevant to the Motley lineage are also present. Motley was raised in a middle-class family in New Orleans. His Creole heritage is represented by the cropped portrait of a fair-skinned woman in the upper left. The tentative position of this picture compositionally balances the work while it projects a sense of mystery that possibly alludes to the secrecy that was often a part of the mixed-race lineage of Southern black families. The juxta-position of the well-coifed, well-dressed mulatto and the wizened darker-skinned woman is striking. Is this a comparison of a privileged life to one of adversity? Like the range of hues in many black families, this pair reflects a fact of the Motley family history that reminds the viewer of slavery and its lasting effects on African Americans. It is still a bitter reality in black American society today that lighter-skinned and darker-skinned members of the race are often at odds, adhering to white standards of racial superiority. Motley's statement here was probably less insightful and political than this African American cultural critic in 1997 would prefer. However, the artist was fascinated with people of mixed-race heritage. He did a number of portraits of mulatto and octoroon women, an exercise that he referred to as "not only an artistic venture but also a scientific problem," and he often noted the superiority of their features over those of "dark, purer Negroes" (qtd. in Robinson and Greenhouse 9).

In the context of these racial juxta-positions in the painting, the contrast between the grandmother and the stark white Jesus above her is also highlighted. The distinct line of the shadow in the center places Emily and the crucifixion on one side and everything else in the painting on the other. The most obvious reading of this composition points to the one thing in Emily's life that she cannot do without: her religion. Does the viewer take the alliance of the white Christ and the black grandmother for granted? Or does one question the paradoxical nature of the African American Christian as presented? Motley opposes the material world in the left half of the painting with the spiritual after-life signified by the door behind the old woman. It is the gate to the Promised Land which she will enter, through her faith in Christ, who hovers like a vision above her head.

Also inspired by Creole Catholicism, Jacob Lawrence (b. 1917) employs a similar juxtaposition of an African American and a crucifix in his 1941 painting Catholic New Orleans. Unlike Motley, Lawrence presents a choice in his depiction of a woman browsing in a religious shop. Among the rosaries and crosses are two black devotional objects: a painting of a shrouded black figure and a black crucified Christ on a yellow cross. Lawrence has explained to me that the presence of these figures was motivated by his desire to express the influence of black culture in New Orleans, especially in music and religion. Although the white crosses and the rosaries dominate the picture, these black objects create a visual link to the black woman and establish the spiritual relevance of Catholicism to her specifically.

A detailed history of African American religion is beyond the scope of this article. However, the circumstances under which Christianity entered the culture are important in understanding the conflicts it bred. An eighteenth-century bishop of London assured slaveholders that

Christianity, and the embracing of the

Gospel, does not make the least

Alteration in Civil property, or in any

Duties which belong to Civil Relations;

but in all these Respects, it continues

Persons just in the same State as it

found them. The Freedom which

Christianity gives, is a Freedom from

the Bondage of Sin and Satan, and

from the dominion of Man's Lust and

Passions and inordinate Desires; but as

to their outward Condition. whatever

that was before, whether bond or free,

their being baptized and becoming

Christians, makes no matter of change

of it. (qtd. in Cone 65)

The very motive and method of introducing Christianity to blacks was a moral paradox. Missionaries encouraged slave owners to have their slaves converted because the fear of God would cultivate docility and make them better servants. The slaves were to understand that this religion of salvation and liberation discriminated: The black person's liberation was only in the next life. This conditioning fostered a strong eschatological tendency in African American Christianity. As James Weldon Johnson wrote, "Knowing the hard taskmaster, feeling the lash, the Negro seized Christianity, the religion of compensations in the life to come" (qtd. in Mays 27). But for others this hypocrisy produced a longing for justice in this world. As Frederick Douglass articulated in 1845,

I love the religion of our blessed

Savior. I love that religion which

comes from above, in the wisdom of

God which is first pure, then peaceable,

gentle and easy to be entreated,

full of mercy and good fruits, without

partiality and without hypocrisy.... I

love the religion that is based upon the

glorious principle, of love to God and

love to man; which makes its followers

do unto others as they themselves

would be done by.... It is because I

love this religion that I bate the slaveholding,

the woman-whipping, the

mind-darkening, the soul-destroying

religion that exists in the southern

states of America. Loving the one I

must hate the other; holding on to one

I must reject the other. (qtd. in Foner


Both Motley and Lawrence address these issues. They present Christianity as a source of both relief and conflict for the African American. Their images articulate the undeniable racial dimension of black American religion.

William Henry Johnson (1901-1970) made this element explicit in his two series depicting religious themes executed between 1939 and 1944. These series illustrated African American spirituals and biblical subjects with black characters. Johnson was answering the call of many important figures, such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, and Alain Locke, to establish a new and racially expressive art. Johnson struggled through the Eurocentric conditioning of his artistic training abroad to find his own individual style. He even traveled to North Africa where he felt "at home" with the people and culture. Like many white artists, he was trying to find an "American" style of painting, while as a black artist he was trying discover what Locke referred to as "a racial idiom," especially suitable for black themes (262). Johnson moved away from traditional European themes, such as landscapes and still lifes, toward black genre. In a grant proposal he wrote in 1941, Johnson remarks that, "through my wide experience in my art in the U.S.A., Europe and Africa, I have come to the point where I wish to study my people thoroughly.... to create an artist must live and paint in his own environment" (qtd. in Hammond 71).

Johnson reinterprets the traditional crucifixion scene using black subjects in two painted scenes. In Jesus and the Three Marys, ca. 1939 (Fig. 2), and Mount Calvary (ca. 1944), he employs a reductive painting style which characterized much of his work after his return to New York in 1938. This style has been called "extreme modernist" (Butcher 185), "pseudo-naive expressionis[t]" (Hammond 68), and "black neo-folk" (Since the Harlem 62), to cite only a few examples of the attempts to define, describe, and circumscribe the reductive painting style of much of Johnson's work after 1939. Heavily influenced by Vincent Van Gogh, Chaim Soutine, and Edvard Munch, Johnson had been working in an Expressionist style. Richard Powell, the foremost Johnson scholar, has noted that the artist's pursuit of the "primitive" in his work was influenced by his European contemporaries, but it also came from deep within as he strove to reconcile his academic European training with his racial identity ("In My Family" 21-22). This "primitive-folk" mode used by Johnson and other black artists, such as Palmer Hayden and Jacob Lawrence, was an expression of liberation: "By stripping style to an expressionistic core, these artists saw themselves as stripping away the baggage of Western culture" (Since the Harlem 62).


In the context of Johnson's religious paintings, such as Jesus and the Three Marys, this attempt to re-appropriate and reinvent a new sense of identity from white culture had both racial and religious implications. Powell, one of the first scholars to address this issue explicitly, writes that Johnson's introduction of a black subject "reorient[s] one's interpretation of this painting from a mere reiteration of New Testament events to a painted analogue on contemporary black experience" ("William" 229). The sparse composition presents a large figure of a black Christ whose attenuated arms and gigantic hands extend to each side of the canvas. One figure faces the viewer with closed eyes and wrings her hands. Mary stands with her back turned outward and lifts her huge hands toward the cross. At the foot of the cross, a bowing female figure, contorted in grief, extends her hands above her head in such a way that they frame the lower half of the Christ-figure. Her hands are the largest in the composition, and her head is concealed by a brilliant orange cloak. Johnson reinterprets a traditional Christian theme and European composition. This work is closely related to Matthias Grunewald's Isenheim Crucifixion of 1515, which Johnson saw in France and a postcard of which he owned.

Johnson establishes powerful color contrasts with the bright hues of the clothing, the yellow halos, and the electric blue cross against the dark-brown skin of the figures. Critics have consistently focused their attention on the use of bold, flat planes of color in all of Johnson's religious works. Only recently has Powell discussed the racialization of the traditional theme. Through the manipulation of color and the reductive mode, the artist achieves a highly emotional and spiritually charged art that simultaneously creates an individual and a more universal racial spirit.

Fashioning a Christ in one's own image is not a new phenomenon in art or religious history. Just as Chinese and Indian artists make the facial features of the Buddha similar to those of their people, Ethiopians and other Christians of color have been making dark-skinned Christs and saints for centuries.(2) Johnson's black Christ makes the conflation of the sympathetic devout and suffering savior even more literal by including a self-portrait. The high cheek bones, large eyes, and beard of Christ's face are strikingly similar to Johnson's self-portraits of the same period. In another painting, of Nat Turner, ca. 1945 (Fig. 3), the artist paints himself as the hanged rebel slave. In both Christ and Three Mary's and this work, Johnson depicts himself as the dead martyr. The religious and historical meanings of these paintings become entwined with Johnson's own self-perceptions and personal tragedies.


The artist is painting in a tradition that extends back to the sixteenth century, with Albrecht Durer's Self-Portrait as Christ from 1500. Given his admiration of Van Gogh, Johnson may have borrowed from the French artist's self-portrait as the dead Christ. Paul Gauguin's Self-Portrait with Yellow Christ of 1890 makes similar connections between the tortured artist and the suffering Christ. In this tradition, the artist is often expressing an identification with Christ as one who stands outside of society and suffers for his or her difference as an artist. For Johnson, these associations related to events in his life. This last phase of the artist's work coincided with the death of his wife in 1944 and a decline in his physical and mental health which eventually led to his hospitalization in 1947. Feeling victimized by fate, a fickle art market, and a racist country that he had fled many times, Johnson infused the crucified Christ with both a personal and a cultural significance.

Another artist who painted the crucified Christ in a non-traditional style was Romare Bearden. In his Passion of Christ series of 1945, Bearden painted geometric and abstracted figures such as those in Mary Supports Jesus (Fig. 4). A pieta as expressive and haunting as any Medieval version fills the picture plane. Mary's half-length figure holds a smaller Christ in her lap. The faces of the two figures are sorrowful masks, each with an expressive "X" in its center. As with all of the works of this series and most of Bearden's "semi-abstract" phase, the race of these biblical figures is not immediately discernible. The artist places different blotches of unnatural colors, such as red, grey, and blue, within his strong outlines. Bearden confronts the color of God with many colors, not just black or white.


It is clear from his work The Visitation (1941), in which two pregnant black women meet at a crossroad, that Bearden was aware of the racial potential of biblical figures. In the title and the draped, antiquated garments of these women, the artist alludes to the apocryphal meeting of the New Testament mothers Mary and Elizabeth. In the Passion scene, Bearden's abstract use of form and color heightens the sense of human suffering while de-emphasizing such elements as race. Bearden felt that "there is only one art and it belongs to all mankind" (qtd. in Schwartzman 131). Here, Bearden universalizes through abstraction. Through this manipulation of Christian subject matter, he makes it more inclusive of all believers.

One cannot address African American religious painting without discussing Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937), the foremost American religious painter. The son of a Methodist minister, Tanner was the only internationally acclaimed black painter of the nineteenth century. He began to paint almost exclusively religious scenes after his Raising of Lazarus won the Paris Salon Gold Medal in 1897. Tanner continued to win prizes and achieve success in Europe. Although widely heralded by the black community at home, he did not receive the same recognition in the mainstream American art scene as he did abroad. This was chiefly due to his race, and it was racism which caused him to leave the United States. He wrote in 1914, "This condition has driven me out of the country, ... and while I cannot sing our National Hymn, `Land of Liberty,' etc., still deep down in my heart I love it and am sometimes sad that I cannot live where my heart is" (qtd. in Mosby 13). From the last years of the nineteenth century until his death, Tanner lived as an expatriate in France where, he noted, the "art world ... [was] a perfect race democracy" (qtd. in Lester 73).

Tanner painted a handful of black genre scenes, the most well-known of which are The Banjo Lesson and The Thankful Poor, during a brief visit home in Philadelphia between 1893 and 1894. Despite the interest in the black community for an artist with their own interests at heart, Tanner did not paint any more of these scenes once he returned to France. Historians of African American art have offered many possible reasons from financial to personal for this shift in subject matter (see Mosby 120ff). The relationship between his race and his art was complicated for Tanner, as he struggled to be a great artist, not just a great black artist. The African American painter Hale Woodruff recalled that, "when young Black artists sought his advice in Paris, he was quick to tell them he was interested in them not as Blacks, but as artists" (qtd. in Fine 73). Some have argued that his biblical works were still relevant to African Americans:

The majority of Tanner's biblical

themes deal with the events of the

nativity, crucifixion, and resurrection.

The notions of birth and rebirth inherent

in these subjects are easily linked

to messages of human rights and social

justice, and they relate to issues of

equality.... (Mosby 149)(3)

In all of his later biblical scenes Tanner creates a highly dramatic effect with the use of few figures and Rembrandtesque chiaroscuro and brushstroke. The suffering Christ later favored by Johnson is largely absent. Tanner's painting The Savior, ca. 1900-1905 (Fig. 5), shows a half-length profile portrait of Christ. He stares ahead with His hands clasped together deep in thought or prayer. Tanner avoided illustrating passages with conflict. All of his images of Christ are consistently calm and introspective. Like his cool, blue-grey palette, Tanner's serene compositions soothe the viewer and serve as true devotional imagery with a deep spirituality. The race of the artist's biblical characters was of definite interest to him. Obsessed with creating "authentic" Middle Eastern scenarios, Tanner traveled to Algeria and Palestine specifically to do research for his paintings. As Johnson was in pursuit of a racial identity for himself and his art in North Africa, Tanner's sojourn was to capture the racial types, clothing, interiors, and landscapes specific to the biblical past of his works. Tanner made numerous studies of Jews in Palestine to get the race of Jesus and his followers right in his paintings. Tanner wrote, "My efforts have been to not only put the Biblical incident in the original setting ... but at the same time give the human touch `which makes the whole world kin' and which ever remains the same" (qtd. in Hartigan 106).


Tanner clearly saw a universal aspect to his religious works. It is possible that he was most interested in the potential of these Middle or Near Eastern types to transcend the black and white polarities that so plagued his life and career as an African American artist. His own closeness to these people is reflected in his inclusion of himself in the 1912 version of Christ at the Home of Lazarus (now lost). Although Johnson saw himself as a martyred Christ, Tanner was more modest and less dramatic. In biblical costume complete with turban, Tanner sits solemnly to the far right of Christ. The artist's wife, Jessie as Mary, sits beside him. Tanner painted himself as the obedient disciple listening to his Lord with bowed head and clasped hands.

In many ways the contrasting presentations of Christ by Tanner, Johnson, and Bearden strive to reach a common goal, one of inclusivity and universality. The race of Christ was an important aspect for each artist. Tanner sought to paint an "authentic" savior, while Johnson and Bearden explored race in the context of the Afrocentric legacy of the New Negro Movement. During the twenties and thirties many people were questioning God's relevance to the African American community. The works of W. E. B. Du Bois, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, and others are laden with the nagging problem of the white God of black Christianity. Du Bois poignantly articulated the anger and the confusion in "A Litany at Atlanta," written in 1920:

Keep not thou silent, O God!

Sit no longer blind, Lord God, deaf to

our prayer and dumb to our suffering.

Surely Thou, too, art not white, O

Lord, a pale, bloodless, heartless, thing!

(Dark Water 27)

In "Heritage" Cullen confronts the irony of the alienation from his African roots "three centuries removed," and the way in which these distant racial ties still separate him from so many aspects of the dominant white American culture, especially Christianity:

Lord, I fashion dark gods, too

Daring even to give You

Dark despairing features where,

Crowned with dark rebellious hair,

Patience wavers just so much as

Mortal grief compels, while touches

Quick and hot, of anger, rise

To smitten cheek and weary eyes.

Lord, forgive me if my need

Sometimes shapes a human creed.

(Locke 253)

The "need" to shape "a human creed" for God, as expressed here by Cullen and so clearly found in Johnson's paintings, found popular expression in such events as the aforementioned "canonization" of the Black Man of Sorrows in 1924, which according to an article in the Negro World, "correct[ed] a mistake of centuries and brace[d] the Negro" (6 Sep. 1924: 4) The rise of African American cult followings, so prominent in the 1930s, was also a response to this need. The congregations of such charismatic leaders as Daddy Grace and Father Divine fulfilled the need for a black God by believing in his incarnation on the present earth as an actual black man.(4) George Baker, Jr., known as Father Divine, claimed to be God incarnate. Not only did the "other" divinity become familiar as the black perception of an abstract being, but as a black individual living in the community.

Aaron Douglas, often considered the official painter of the Harlem Renaissance, addressed the desire to locate the African American believer in the Christian tradition in yet another way. In his painting The Crucifixion of 1927 (Fig. 6), he breaks with traditional iconography and allows a black subject to dominate the scene. The suffering of a black man literally overshadows that of Christ. The textual source for the scene appears in Matthew 27:32 and Luke 23:26: "And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus" (Luke).


Douglas depicts Simon as a looming figure with pronounced African or "Negroid" features lifting the heavy cross. In the opening beneath his striding legs there is a group of soldiers; one soldier is on horseback, and the grey figure of Christ is distinguished by a halo. All of the figures are rendered in Douglas's distinct, flat silhouettes of muted colors. The theme of the African Simon helping Christ on his way to Calvary was popular as a religious rallying point, as evidenced in a speech by Marcus Garvey in 1921:

Oh Jesus the Redeemer, when white

men scorned you, when white men

spurned you, when white men spat

upon you, when white men pierced

your side.... it was a black man in the

person of Simon the Cyrenian who

took the cross and bore it to heights of

Calvary. As he bore it in your Calvary,

so now, when we are climbing our

Calvary and the burden being heavy--Jesus

we ask you to help us on the

journey up the heights. (Negro World

27 Aug. 1921: 3)(5)

Although articulated fully by the Black Theological Movement decades later, the identification of physical and spiritual blackness with suffering and, therefore, with Christ was definitely a fundamental theme in the black understanding of Christ and Christianity from the beginning. The analogy between Christ's persecution and the racial oppression of blacks past and present was essential to the Simon image. One of the best-known spirituals expresses this notion: "Nobody knows the trouble I see / Nobody knows but Jesus.... "Christ's own difference, for which he was persecuted, becomes a source of empathy and identity for the African American. In this concentration on Christ's persecution, this empathy subordinates his racial alienation.(6)

In many instances a one-to-one correlation was made between the crucified Christ and the lynched black man. In Cullen's epic poem "The Black Christ," published in 1929, the protagonist is lynched and then, like Jesus, is resurrected:

The world's supremest tragedy,

Until I die my burden be;

How Calvary in Palestine,

Extending down to me and mine,

Was but the first leaf in a line

Of trees on which a Man should


World without end in suffering

For all men's healing, let me sing.

(Cullen 63)

Black artists depicted this analogy in their paintings, such as The Mourners of 1942 (Fig. 7) by Fred Flemister (b. 1917). Here a woman wearing a shroud supports the languid form of the dead lynched man on the left. The composition and the traditional Christ-like features of the dead man are strongly reminiscent of European scenes like Rogier van der Weyden's Lamentation (ca. 1435) or Paul Rubens's Elevation of the Cross of 1610-1612. White artists also contributed to this genre of political-religious commentary, as seen in Julius Bloch's The Lynching of 1933.


These artists, like Johnson, Douglas, and the others, attempted in their own way to relate Christ to black experience. Each artist used the image of the crucified Christ to convey both a general and racially specific sense of human suffering. In all of these paintings, the artist addressed the problematic relationship between Christianity and the African American. Motley and Lawrence present the paradox, while artists such as Johnson, Douglas, and Bearden offer a solution. All of these painters were re-evaluating the "White-God concept" that had set blacks against their blackness, for centuries.

This process was similar to that which many African American artists were undergoing as they tried to reconcile American art with black art. Like all African Americans, the black artist struggled, and still does, with the ever-present duality of his or her existence. As Du Bois noted in his famous passage,

It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness,

this sense of always

looking at one's self through the eyes

of others, of measuring one's soul by

the tape of a world that looks on in

amused contempt and pity. One ever

feels his two-ness,--an American, a

Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two

unreconciled strivings; two warring

ideals in one dark body, whose dogged

strength alone keeps it from being torn

asunder. (Souls 8)

The conflicts of both the African American artist and Christian were symptomatic of this general "twoness." For African American artists, Christians, and citizens, their race stood in opposition to the dominant cultural models; for each to embrace his or her faith or profession fully meant to reject an aspect of his or her racial identity. The motif of the suffering Christ in the work of Motley, Johnson, and the others reflects the artists' efforts to recognize and reintegrate some of this lost identity into the African American experience.


(1.) For more on the representation of blacks by white artists in America, see McElroy.

(2.) For more on black Christian imagery, see African Zion.

(3.) Also see Harper.

(4.) For more, see Parker.

(5.) For more on Garvey, see Burkett, Martin.

(6.) See Cone, Witvliet.

Works Cited

African Zion: The Sacred Art of Ethiopia. Baltimore: Walters Art Gallery, 1993.

Burkett, Randall K. Garveyism as a Religious Movement: The Institutionalization of a Black Civil Religion. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1978.

Butcher, Margaret J. The Negro in American Culture. New York: Knopf. 1956.

Cone, James. Black Theology of Liberation. Maryknoll: Lippincott, 1970.

Cullen, Countee. "The Black Christ" and Other Poems. New York: Harper, 1929.

Du Bois, W. E. B. Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil. 1920. New York: Schocken, 1969.

--. The Souls of Black Folk. 1903. New York: Vintage, 1990.

Fine, Elsa Honig. The Afro-American Artist: A Search for Identity. New York: Holt, 1973.

Foner, Philips S., ed. The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, Early Years, 1817-1849. New York: International, 1950.

Hammond, Leslie King. "The Life and Work of William Henry Johnson, 1901-1970." Diss. Johns Hopkins U, 1975.

Harper, Jennifer J. "The Early Religious Paintings of Henry Ossawa Tanner: A Study of the Influences of Church, Family, and Era." American Art 6 (Fall 1992): 69+.

Hartigan, Linda Roscoe. Sharing Traditions: Five Black Artists in 19th-Century America. Washington: Smithsonian Institute, 1985.

Jones, Major J. The Color of God. Macon: Mercer U, 1987.

Lawrence, Jacob. Telephone interview, 22 Apr. 1990.

Lester, William R. "Henry O. Tanner, Exile for Art's Sake." Alexander's Magazine 15 Dec. 1908: 71+.

Locke, Alain. The New Negro. 1925. New York: Arno, 1968.

Martin, Tony. Literary Garveyism: Garvey, Black Arts and the Harlem Renaissance. Dover: Majority, 1983.

Mays, Benjamin. The Negro's God as Reflected in His Literature. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968.

McElroy, Guy C. Facing History: The Black Image in American Art, 1710-1940. Washington: Corcoran Gallery, 1990.

Mosby, Dewey F. Henry Ossawa Tanner. New York: Rizzoli, 1991.

Parker, Robert Allerton. Incredible Messiah: The Deification of Father Divine. Boston: Little, 1937.

Powell, Richard J. "`In My Family of Primitiveness and Tradition': William H. Johnson's Jesus and Three Marys." American Art 5.4 (1991): 21+.

--. "William H. Johnson: Expressionist and Artist of the Blues Aesthetic." Diss. Yale U, 1988.

Robinson, Jontyle, and Wendy Greenhouse. Archibald J. Motley, Jr. Chicago: Chicago Historical Society, 1991.

Schwartzman, Myron. Romare Bearden: His Life and Art. New York: Abrams, 1990.

Since the Harlem Renaissance: Fifty Years of Afro-American Art. 13 Apr. 1984-1 Nov. 1985. The Gallery, Bucknell U.

Witvliet, Theo. The Way of the Black Messiah: The Hermeneutical Challenge of Black Theology as a Theology of Liberation. London: SCM, 1987.

Woodruff, Hale. "My Meeting with Henry O. Tanner." Crisis Jan. 1970: 7+.

Kymberly N. Pinder received her Ph.D. in Art History from Yale University in 1995. She is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She teaches courses on African American art, American art, and museum studies, and is currently researching murals in Chicago's African American churches.
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Author:Pinder, Kymberly N.
Publication:African American Review
Date:Jun 22, 1997
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