Monday, December 03, 2007

Bill Moyers interviews James Cone

Last Friday I posted a link to a speech James Cone delivered at Harvard University.

I'm not quite ready to drop the subject.

Cone's work has had a profound impact on my thinking across the years.

Everyone who claims to be a Christian needs to watch Bill Moyers' interview with James Cone.

The subject?

Again, it's the cross and the lynching tree.

Here's the link: ttp://

I'd like to get some feedback on this subject and on this surprising connection. What do you think?


Chris Thompson said...

Profound. The transition from the cross to the lynching tree to the prisons struck me deeply. I'm still processing his thoughts, but I just heard some of the most meaningful and powerful words of my life. Thanks for not dropping the subject.

Daniel Gray said...

Larry, thanks for bringing this subject up again. I haven't watched the interview yet, but I read the essay posted on Friday. I didn't respond Friday, and frankly, still don't know how to.

What he says is very hard to read and digest, but he is right. I think his link between the cross and the lynching tree is perfect, sadly. I have never seen it that way before. Having been born long after the civil rights movement, I'm still challenged to understand the impact of everything that happened, but I agree that the problems still faced by blacks today (prisons, Katrina/the underbelly of our cities) are directly related to our blatant racism of the past. Our racism still exists today, because we've failed to correct the problems of the past.

On a side note, I've never heard Billie Holiday's original version of Strange Fruit, but there's an incredible version done by an a cappella group named Talisman at Stanford University. They actually have the song for free on their website (in addition to other songs):

Chris Thompson said...

Larry, have you had conversations about the 'lynching tree' with your African American friends and colleagues?

I think that he explained Obama's situation very well. I have not understood why some have claimed Obama is not 'black' enough. I can see where they're coming from now.

Anonymous said...

I watched the interview twice. While watching both times, I was struck by Cone's anger and disgust with "white people". And that bothers me for several reasons. There is no debating or argument over the fact that whites committed horrible, ugly and inexcusable acts of violence and murdered blacks back during the times he spoke about. I am also certain such unspeakale acts even occur now. And that makes me angry and sad. However, I am a white, christian man ( who, by the way contributes to CDM) who treats all people, including African Americans, as a brother and a sister and tries every day to treat others like I want to be treated. It bothers me that Cone paints us with such a broad brush and has such disdain, anger and hate for whites who did not and never have "lynched" in the broadest terms he used. I know I will get some very harsh treatment here, but his anger, disgust and disdain for people like me seems to be very misplaced.

goofy328 said...

I watched the interview and it was a fascinating piece, then again anything and everything done through Bill Moyers typically is. James Cone has an interesting theory, and it is worth taking note of.

There is a lot of truth in his analysis, much that is hard to swallow. It should be controversial, but for me it just isn't. If you read in between the lines of what he is saying it is a simple assertion that we have skipped over a lot of the healing that needs to be addressed to really get at the root of racism, some for reasons of convenience, some of reasons to be politically correct and some just out of pure exhaustion of fully trying to process the whole embarrassing page in American history to begin with.

At the end of the day, however, I am more bothered by the way in which African-Americans have internalized some of the debate than I am the inability of Whites to full appreciate what he is saying. Many African-Americans have an unrepentant hostility towards their own race and would rather identify with White Americans for reasons I doubt they fully understand anymore, as is the case with anything once you have done it for years; your reasons may have been sound in the beginning, but become practice and second place after a while.