cover image Courage to Hope: From Black Suffering to Human Redemption

Courage to Hope: From Black Suffering to Human Redemption

Cornel West, Quinton H. Dixie. Beacon Press, $26 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-8070-0953-6

This medley of well-crafted essays honors the late James Melvin Washington, a Union Theological Seminary professor and a pioneer in the field of African-American religious history. Washington's various friends, students and colleagues form an august corps of weighty thinkers: co-editor West writes that he misses his best friend of 20 years, with whom he had lunch daily at the Riverside Church. Princeton scholar Albert Raboteau thoughtfully analyzes suffering in the slave experience, while rising star Judith Weisenfeld lucidly chronicles the social construction of race in ""Difference as Evil."" Washington's colleague at Union, the liberation theologian James Cone, draws on Cone's previous work on Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to comment upon African-Americans' ongoing ""struggle to reconcile their faith in the justice and love of God with the persistence of black suffering in the land of their birth."" The contributions are methodologically diverse, ranging from heavily documented historical articles to sermons, open letters and personal opinion pieces. Several essays directly engage Washington's own legacy and work, discussing his groundbreaking history of black Baptists in America (Frustrated Fellowship) as well as his lifelong commitments to racial justice and moral integrity. In all, the anthology pays tribute to a trailblazing scholar while illuminating the social issues that sparked his career. (Nov.)