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Albert Cleage

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  • Albert Cleage

    Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman


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    During the 1960s, many religious leaders, led by Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, sharply criticized the methods and advances claimed by the civil rights movement. By far the most vocal Christian minister advocating a more radical approach to obtaining civil rights was Albert Cleage, Jr.

    Albert Cleage was born in Indianapolis in 1911 and grew up in Detroit. He received his B.A. from Wayne State in 1942 and his Bachelor of Divinity from Oberlin Graduate School of Theology in 1943. Cleage was ordained in the Congregational Church in 1943.

    After a brief-and disappointing-term as pastor at an integrated church in San Francisco, Cleage returned to Detroit in 1951 and served at St. Marks United Presbyterian mission. He soon clashed with white Presbyterian leaders over issues of how he should lead his black congregation. In 1953, Cleage and a group of followers left to form the Central Congregation Church. They were committed to ministering to the downtrodden, and offered several programs for the community's poor.

    Throughout the 1960s, Cleage was active in issues of education and black political leadership. By the late 1960s, his vision of Christianity had radicalized alongside the disappointments of the civil rights movement and rise of Black Power. He launched the Black Christian National Movement in 1967, which called for black churches to reinterpret Jesus' teachings to suit the social, economic, and political needs of black people. That Easter, Cleage unveiled an 18-foot painting of a Black Madonna, and renamed Central Congregational the Shrine of the Black Madonna.

    In 1968, following a year of racial unrest in Detroit, Cleage published The Black Messiah, which detailed his vision of Jesus as a black revolutionary leader. In 1972, he published his second book, Black Christian Nationalism, and inaugurated the Black Christian Nationalist Movement as a separate denomination. The name was later changed to the Pan African Orthodox Christian Church (PAOCC), and Cleage changed his own name to Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman, meaning "liberator, holy man, savior of the nation" in Swahili. The PAOCC includes churches in Atlanta, GA, and Houston, TX, several cultural centers, bookstores, community service centers, and a working farm.

    Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman died on February 20, 2000. The PAOCC continues his mission to uplift and liberate the Pan African world community through the teachings of Jesus, the Black Messiah....
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    http://www.pbs.org/thisfarbyfaith/pe...rt_cleage.html
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