Review by Choice Review
Nowhere is political activist W.E.B. DuBois's special gift for keen observation and biting social analysis more evident than in these 26 short essays, selections, and stories on black religion. Editor Zuckerman (sociology, Pitzer College) includes extracts from Philadelphia Negro (1899), Souls of Black Folk (1903), and the Atlanta University Studies (1898-1914) and other well-known pieces. DuBois's remarks in Souls regarding African influences on black religious practice are juxtaposed with a Crisis editorial condemning evangelist Billy Sunday. His orientation as a social scientist is evident in a literary expression of religious themes. The poem "Credo" (1920) captures several aspects of the view of race he articulates in "Conservation of Races" (1897) and Dusk of Dawn (1940): the monogenetic theory of origin, the idea of a Negro genius, and a fierce opposition to interracial marriage. In the politically charged "Jesus Christ in Georgia" he uses a bible story to expose the evil of lynching. Clear throughout is that, despite religious skepticism, DuBois recognized the importance of the black church as a social institution. His greatest bone of contention: the question of whether black churches promote social change, or support the status quo. Useful for courses on sociology of religion, the black church, or DuBois's thought. All levels. T. L. Lott San Jose State University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.