Essays on Methods and Understanding
Edited By Peter Frick
Josiah Young: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Three Black Writers:James W. Johnson, Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen
Josiah Young Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Three Black Writers: James W. Johnson, Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen Introduction Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in his “Report on My Year of Study at Union Theological Seminary in New York, 1930/31” that he worked in Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church “every Sunday at 2:30 in the afternoon” with black Union seminarian Albert Franklin Fisher. He and Fisher taught “a group of young Negroes in the Sunday school.” Bonhoeffer also “conduct- ed Bible study for some Negro women and once a week helped out in a weekday church school.” He not only became “well acquainted with several young Negroes,” but he “also visited their homes several times.” Bonhoef- fer’s encounter with black youth (who bring his work in East Berlin to mind) was a highlight of his experiences in the United States. Through them, he got “to know America quite intensively at one of its delicate points without being in a position where someone might dazzle [him].” 1 I take him to mean that black youth honestly and unpretentiously revealed their struggles against racism and the discontent they suffered because of white privilege. They disclosed to Bonhoeffer “the real face of America hidden behind the veil of words in the American constitution [sic] saying that ‘all men are cre- ated free and equal’.”2 Bonhoeffer remarked that some of the young blacks thought Christian- ity had “made their fathers […] meek in the face of their incomparably harsh fate” and so had begun to oppose the church....
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