James H. Cone

James H. Cone, widely known as the father of Black Liberation Theology, attended Macedonia AME Church as a child and is currently an ordained AME minister. His theology grew out of the disconnect he observed in graduate school between the white theologians he studied (his doctoral dissertation at Northwestern was on Karl Barth) and the realities of everyday life in Black America at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
He summarizes this in one statement from his second book, A Black Theology of Liberation (1970), "Either God is identified with the oppressed to the point that their experience becomes God's experience, or God is a God of racism." Further, during his first teaching position at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, he observed, “What could Karl Barth possibly mean for black students who had come from the cotton fields of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, seeking to change the structure of their lives in a society that had defined black as non-being?” (God of the Oppressed, 1975).
Although his framework is built on the context of racism, the Black Power Movement, the Black church experience (including spirituals), and the writings of Henry McNeil Turner and W. E. B. Du Bois, it is based on oppression as much as ethnicity, "Being black in America has little to do with skin color. Being black means that your heart, your soul, your mind, and your body are where the dispossessed are." (Black Theology and Black Power, 1969).
Dr. Cone has written twelve books to date, including The Cross and the Lynching Tree (2014), and is currently the Charles A. Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systemic Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, a position he has held for the last 30 years.