The Christology of the Lynching Tree: Barth’s Crimson Thread, Mamie Till Bradley and the Indictment of White Supremacy

Hill Fletcher, Jeannine

In James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree, the body of Emmett Till stands in a cruciform role; yet it is through the courage of Till’s mother, Mamie, that God’s revelation breaks into the world.  Supplementing Cone’s narrative with theologies of trauma and Till’s memoir, new sites of Christic presence come into view.  At the heart of this paper, as at the heart of Cone’s Cross and Lynching Tree is the cruciform body of Emmett Till, cradled in the arms of his mother and raised to public witness as she indicted White supremacy in his torture and death. The cross of Emmett Till and The Cross and the Lynching Tree have played transformative roles in insisting that the cross of Christ recreates humanity with the indictment of White supremacy.  The impact of Cone’s work on the discipline of Theology, and Theology’s way forward under this indictment close this investigation.


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Black Theology Papers Project

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August 17, 2022