Authentically Black and Truly Catholic: The Rise of Black Catholicism in the Great Migration

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Product Details
New York University Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.8 inches | 0.9 pounds

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About the Author
Matthew J. Cressler is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the College of Charleston.
"This book has the potential to promote important conversations about the historic relationships of black and white Catholics, about the status and experiences of black Catholics today, and about what is required to properly recover and interpret the deep and rich history of black Catholics in the United States."-- "U.S. Catholic Magazine"
"Authentically Black and Truly Catholic makes crucial contributions to wider scholarly conversations about 'Black religion' and 'the Black church, ' the relationship between race and religion, and the history of Catholicism in the United States, as well as to other historical topics such as the Great Migration, Black Power, the urban North, and twentieth-century US history more generally."-- "The Journal of Religion"
"A fascinating, richly detailed social history of the black transformation of an American Catholicism that traditionally welcomed and nutured Catholic ethnic immigrants in America. In many ways the book is deceptively complex. It is at once a social history of black Catholics that vividly uses the words of those black migrants to describe their experiences in the church and their new surroundings. Yet the book is also an intellectual history of the role that American Catholicism played in the Great Migration, truly making readers rethink the major sociopolitical movements of the last century and the Catholic Church's role in shaping (and being shaped by) them. Cressler's work demonstrates that the presence of religion in African American and American history is crucial to our understanding of what America is."-- "Journal of American History"
"A significant contribution to understanding the context of black Catholics gravitation to Catholicism. It is a must read for scholars interested in black religious identity."-- "Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion"
"Matthew Cressler has penned a book that can be read by a wide audience. He provides integration and balance of both primary and secondary sources and provides an extensive bibliography for the reader. This study of black Catholics, an interdisciplinary endeavor, encompassed a variety of disciplinary fieds: religious studies, African American studies, Catholic studies, history, and postcolonial studies. This book has something to offer those interested in the emergence of black Catholicism and its legacy in the United States, particularly in Chicago; likewise, historians and researchers will value this books' contributions to the growing body of scholarly research on black Catholics in the United States."--American Catholic Studies
"Usually treatments of Black Catholics in the twentieth century situate them in relation to white people and prioritize the history of interracial activists in the civil rights movements. Historian Matthew J. Cressler's Authentically Black and Truly Catholic considers Black Catholics on their own terms to explain how Black Catholics, by the 1980s, could practice distinctively Black ways of being Catholic ... Cressler's book is a tour de force."--Review of Religious Research
"The author makes excellent arguments for black Catholic self-awareness, collected both through a canvas of the extant literature--much of which has lain fallow all these years--and in-person interviews ... the nation's three million black Catholics are a potent, if often neglected, source of strength for the Church, and Cressler's volume does much to chronicle their struggle."--Catholic Library World
"Cressler's work adds two new dimensions to histories of religion in the civil rights movement. He shows how ritual practice contributed to black migrants' Catholic transformation and self-understanding, and then he demonstrates how that consciousness fused Black Power with black Catholicism in a rejection of liberal interracialist Catholicism."--The Christian Century
"Matthew J. Cressler's groundbreaking Authentically Black and Truly Catholic sets out not only to explore the world of black Catholic Chicago, but also to participate in a larger efforts to rethink the stories we tell about American religion ... If, for example, you did not already believe that Catholicism, "as with all things in America," is "ineluctably entangled with race" (200), then you may finish this book mourning a little--but also closer to the truth than you were before."--Study of American Catholicism at University of Notre Dame
"It is Cressler's attention to the intersection of the Great Migrations and religion that is perhaps one of the work's biggest contributions to researchers and teachers of the sociology of religion because he aptly demonstrates what the migrations meant to Catholicism, and Catholicism's impact on those who had migrated. He takes painstaking effort to document how those migrations "changed religious life and culture across the country as Black and southern ways of being Christian were remade amidst the 'exigencies of the city'"... Cressler reveals that interplay which ultimately led to an expansion of Black Catholic existence and ways of being. In doing so, he also welcomes us to reconsider the Great Migrations and broader understanding of their impact on the social and spiritual aspects of Black life. This work is a significant contribution to the historiographies of U.S. Catholicism, African American life and history, Black Power, and the Great Migrations."--Sociology Religion
"Cressler's book is an exciting read. Accessible to undergraduates, this book will prove a rewarding addition to a wide range of college courses, and its individual chapters could likewise stand alone for such purposes."--Religion
"What remains clear from his retracing of nearly a century of Black Catholic history through the lens of the Chicago experience is that contemporary concerns of Black Catholics for ecclesial and civil justice and self-determination are a continuation of their long experience within the Catholic Church."--US Catholic Historian
"Previous work has largely conflated racial justice and interracial liberalism and this book examines how this view largely obscures the important lived experience and political and religious preferences of Black Catholics in Chicago there is little to fault in the analysis itself and this remarkable first book will be of interest to historians and sociologists of race and religion for many years to come."-- "Catholic Books Review"
"Cressler's considerable achievement is to place African American Catholics at the center of the story, much more so than histories of race relations typically allow, and in this way he enriches standard accounts of both African American and Catholic history."--American Historical Review
"Well researched and chronicled, Matthew J. Cressler's contribution is welcomed in the emerging lexicon on Black Catholicism."-- "Journal of African American History"
"In Authentically Black and Truly Catholic, Matthew Cressler turns a spotlight on the efforts of Black Catholics to articulate and dramatize their faith in an idiom reflective of the spirituality and aesthetics nourished by their culture and explores the understudied influence of the rhetoric and aesthetics of Black Power on the 20th century reemergence of an active Black Catholic Movement. This work makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of diversity in the Catholic Church in the United States!"--M. Shawn Copeland, editor of Uncommon Faithfulness: The Black Catholic Experience "Orbis Books"