Was it wrong for Langston Hughes to think that Jesus was an African American?


I chose to do my blog on Langston Hughes (1902-1967). Langston Hughes is one of the best-known African American male writers of off all times. He has held many titles such as author, civil rights activist, protester, and poet. He not only had written poetry, he also has written plays, novels and short stories about music, war, lynching, racial segregation,historical African Americans which included Jesus and God. He has even written about religion. In many of his writings he has portrayed Jesus or God as being a black male. One of his most controversial poems called “Christ in Alabama” has been criticized over the years, and even today in our modern world, especially in the Christian community. One would have to wonder if Langston Hughes is wrong in thinking that Jesus was an African American. Or perhaps he was writing about some else?


Christ in Alabama

Christ is a nigger,

Beaten and black:

Oh, bare your back!


Mary is His mother:

Mammy of the South,

Silence your mouth.


God is His father:

White Master above

Grant Him your love.


Most holy bastard

Of the bleeding mouth,

    Nigger Christ

    On the cross

    Of the South.


In this poem it seemed to me as if Langston is writing about his perception of Christ as being a black man.  I often wonder myself if Jesus is in fact black. When I was younger my parents had pictures of Jesus being African American all over our home.  Today, many African American churches and organizations are convinced that Jesus was a black man; some have even interrupted that his hair being the texture of wool could mean only one thing, that he was black. Here are a few clips that give an example of such beliefs.


For example, my own church has a bookstore that sells everything from fans to books and other religious affirmation with images of an African American Christ displayed on them. One would have to wonder if my church is being bias or being racist when it comes to the color of Jesus. Is my church trying to fit Jesus into a mold for the African American community? Yet, we have a diversity of churchgoers that include Caucasian worshipers, is this fair too them?  I often wonder how this make them feel, and why haven’t any of them confronted our “Holy Than Thou Art” fellow church board members.

 One day my friend Debbie asked her to visit her church, and when I entered their huge sanctuary the first thing that I saw was a Giant picture of a white Jesus. One could literally imagine the look on my face. It was that day that I asked her what color she thought that Jesus was and she said white of course. I then asked her how she knew that Jesus is white. She said that is what she has been taught all of life that Jesus could be no other color but Caucasian. And I had been taught the same thing that Jesus is black. Could it be that I too am like so many of my fellow church members and bias in my viewpoint on the color of Jesus? Over the years, I had begun to visit different churches and found out that Jesus is a different color to different faiths.Could Jesus be multicolored?  Or could some of us be colorblind and see no color at all. I often times ask myself does it really matter what color Jesus really is.  In today standards, I would be off the mark because there are people that will never believe that a Jew could be black. And there are some individuals that still believe that Egypt is not located in Africa.

 Today, the color of Jesus skin does matter to certain religious faith.  Some people even believe that if Jesus is not the color of their chose, they would rather go to Hell than to go to Heaven. I had a friend that told me this joke. He said, there were two friends that both died on the same day. They both stood outside of heaven gates and argued over what color God was.  And then they gates swung open and a loud voice said in Spanish you are both wrong, I’m Hispanic.

As I ponder over this poem, I was trying to find out the real meaning behind why Langston Hughes had written “Christ in Alabama”, after all we are right now living in the state of Alabama and it was not that long ago that slavery and Christianity were apart and still today are a part of our American history. So with that in mind, I found two articles that stated that Langston Hughes was basically using this controversial poem as metaphor to address the poor black slaves in Alabama who represent Jesus in the segregated south. They were oppressed by a white salve master; who was all, over them all the time and in the end Christ is symbolically killed by the racist South.




In today’s society the world is filled with images of Jesus. One’s own interpretation the color of Jesus’s skin has been and still is a hot debated topic for years and continues on into 2013.  Langston Hughes, through his writings, provoked a sting in the Christian community, to the point that critics tried to call him an Atheist. However, in order for Langston Hughes to have been atheistic, he would not cared what color Jesus was because atheist individual do not believe in Jesus, thus his color is irrelevant.









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