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America’s ‘angriest’ theologian faces lynching tree
A crowd gathers in Marion, Indiana, in 1930 to witness a lynching. This photograph inspired the poem and song “Strange Fruit.”
April 23rd, 2012
11:18 AM ET

America’s ‘angriest’ theologian faces lynching tree

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) – When he was boy growing up in rural Arkansas, James Cone would often stand at his window at night, looking for a sign that his father was still alive.

Cone had reason to worry. He lived in a small, segregated town in the age of Jim Crow. And his father, Charlie Cone, was a marked man.

Charlie Cone wouldn’t answer to any white man who called him “boy.” He only worked for himself, he told his sons, because a black man couldn’t work for a white man and keep his manhood at the same time.

Once, when he was warned that a lynch mob was coming to run him out of his home, he grabbed a shotgun and waited, saying, “Let them come, because some of them will die with me.”

James Cone knew the risks his father took. So when his father didn’t come home at his usual time in the evenings, he’d stand sentry, looking for the lights from his father’s pickup truck.

“I had heard too much about white people killing black people,” Cone recalled. “When my father would finally make it home safely, I would run and jump into his arms, happy as I could be.”

Cone left his hometown of Bearden, Arkansas, and became one of the world’s most influential theologians. But the memories of his father and lynch mobs never left him. Those memories shaped his controversial theology, and they saturate his recent memoir, “The Cross and the Lynching Tree.”

Read the full post on CNN's Belief blog

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Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • History • How we live • Religion
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Jorge

    ROFL, hilarious that white anglo folks mock black folks who complain that it's their fault they can't get ahead, when white folks are saying exactly the same thing about us Latinos!!! Wait a minute...AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...

    May 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. raceisamyth

    Know your history. Try asking an American Indian. They remembered it for us

    April 25, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. raceisamyth

    1600 whites were lynched by blacks during this era.

    April 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. raceisamyth

    Racism does exsist and will never disappear because pride will never disappear. If you have pride in your race, your a racist. If you hate another race, your a bigot. All humans have moments of racism.

    April 25, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Vance

    Funny this article has not gathered many responses. 1930 was not that long ago, yet people claim racism does no t exist in America anymore. Hell television and cars have made better leaps and bounds than our efforts on true equality. Yeah we have made strides, but we have a long way to go.

    April 24, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Glen

      Vance. So, so true.

      April 25, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bill Fitzgerald

    Well isnt this interesting. The history of persecuted blacks and the persecuted Mormons will come to greater light in the upcoming election. I believe that not so many americans know the latter.

    April 24, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • raceisamyth

      Uhhhh Scots-Irish slave trade? History much?

      April 25, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Glen

    The problem today is that for Black Americans, this "Lynching" mentality has changed very little since those Jim Crow days. Black Americans are still "second-class citizens" in every way. Whites continue to despise African-Americans.
    Injustice still prevails for Blacks in America because rights are routinely not enforced.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • dkew

      i don't know glen i've done a lot of research on white on black vs black on white crime and black on white crimes are highly more like than the former. just because CNN decides to report only black on white crimes doesn't paint a real picture of what is going on in america. the same day george zimmerman unlawfully shot and killed trayvon martin there were probably 5 black on white crimes with a similar outcome.

      April 25, 2012 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
      • Glen

        That is your own self-serving twisted opinion not based on any facts what-so-ever. I know people like you don't want to own-up to the ugly, hateful reality of your heritage.

        April 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • raceisamyth

      Im white. I like blacks. I hate people that act like a victim.3% of whites owned slaves at the start of the cival war.97% DID NOT! You dont know a thing about true history! Scots-Irish slave trade or the black confederates ring a bell to you?

      April 25, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Billy-Lee

    They don't hang em anymore. Now they just shoot em.

    April 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jona

    That's what they want to see for Zimmerman.

    April 23, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • raceisamyth

      Who Zimmerman the hispanic guy? Is that who your talking about?

      April 25, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |