Constructing and Circulating Black Madonnas as Black Power: Charting the Aesthetic and Cultural Influence of Shrine of the Black Madonna, #1

Harvey, Melanee

From his pulpit, Albert B. Cleage Jr. weighed in on a controversy, boldly asserting, “Jesus was a Black Messiah born to a black woman. The pictures of the Black Madonna which are all over the world did not all turn black through some mysterious accident.” This statement exemplifies the aesthetic perspective Rev. Cleage actively promoted during the 1960s and marks one aspect of his contribution to the Black Arts Movement: establishing a Christian icon as visual symbol for Black Power. Dialoging with Black Art Movement figures such as Amiri Baraka and Elridge Cleaver, Cleage and the Shrine of the Black Madonna remains absent from art histories, despite the fact that they were active participants in shaping this Black Arts Movement history.


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Black Theology Papers Project

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August 17, 2022