Faith in the City is a major new exploration of how the worlds of politics and faith merged in Detroit's African American community. While other religions have mixed politics and creed, Faith in the City suggests that this fusion was - and is - particularly vital to African-American clergy and the Black freedom struggle. Activists in cities such as Detroit sustained a record of progressive politics over the course of three decades. Author Angela Dillard reveals this link and describes what the activism of the 60s owed to that of the 1930s. The labor movement, for example, provided Detroit's Black activists, both inside and outside the unions, with organizational power and experience that was virtually unmatched by any other African American urban community. The book is organized around the leaders of two successive generations in this movement: Reverend Charles A. Hill, pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit, 1920-1969, and Reverend Albert B. Cleage, Jr., who established the Central United Church of Christ in 1956. In 1967, Cleage installed an eighteen-foot high painting of the Black Madonna; in 1970, he renamed his church the Shrine of the Black Madonna Pan-African Orthodox Christian Church. Dillard's work masterfully traces the transition from Reverend Hill's social gospel to the clamorous 1960s and the emergence of Cleage's more strident nationalism.
Angela D. Dillard is Associate Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan. She specializes in American and African-American intellectual history, religious studies, critical race theory and the history of political ideologies and social movements in the United States.