Cover image for Something within : religion in African-American political activism
Something within : religion in African-American political activism
Harris, Fredrick C.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
x, 227 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
When a little becomes much: religious resources in action -- Prophetic fragments: macro and micro foundations of religious resources -- Religion reconsidered: Black protest and electoral activism in an age of transformation -- Blessed assurance: religion, personal empowerment, and African-American political activism -- Rock in a weary land: religious institutions and African-American political activism -- Ties that bind: linking religion and intermediary resources to political action -- The last shall be first: religion, oppositional culture, and African-American political mobilization -- In my father's house: religion and gender in African-American political life.
Reading Level:
1550 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BR563.N4 H368 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



One of the first book-length studies devoted to religion and African-American political activism in a generation, Something Within explores how Afro-Christianity, in various ways, promotes the political activism of African-Americans. Combining ethnography, history, contextual analysis, andsurvey research, this book illustrates the participatory effects of Afro-Christianity by examining its institutional, psychological, and cultural influences. Going beyond the opiate-inspiration debate that has dominated research on the subject, Author Fredrick C. Harris advances a new theory ofreligion as a political resource for a "civic culture in opposition."

Author Notes

Frederick Harris is at University of Rochester.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This meticulously researched book provides significant insight into the intersection of race with religion and politics in the US. Although the body of religion and politics research is growing, the role of religion in African-American politics remains underexamined. Harris (Univ. of Rochester) frames his work in two competing perspectives: the opiate theory and the inspiration theory. From the opiate perspective Afro-Christianity serves to keep blacks from political action. The inspiration theory holds that blacks are mobilized by religious activity. In assessing both theories, Harris identifies a third alternative, that religion is multidimensional in its ability to mobilize African Americans into the political process. The core of the work investigates the role of religious institutions and religious doctrine in encouraging African Americans to participate as voters and in other forms of political action. Particularly interesting is the chapter examining religion and its impact on the political participation of African Americans. The discussion of the conflict that arises when African American clergy participate in politics is also insightful. In this pioneering work, Harris carefully frames his argument in research familiar to most scholars of religion and politics. The nonspecialist benefits from Harris's use of participant observation to bring reality to theory. Highly recommended for upper-division undergraduates through faculty. J. D. Rausch; West Texas A&M University

Table of Contents

1. Introductionp. 3
2. When a Little Becomes Much: Religious Resources in Actionp. 12
3. Prophetic Fragments: Macro and Micro Foundations of Religious Resourcesp. 27
4. Religion Reconsidered: Black Protest and Electoral Activism in an Age of Transformationp. 42
5. Blessed Assurance: Religion, Personal Empowerment, and African-American Political Activismp. 69
6. Rock in a Weary Land: Religious Institutions and African-American Political Activismp. 86
7. Ties That Bind: Linking Religion and Intermediary Resources to Political Actionp. 121
8. The Last Shall Be First: Religion, Oppositional Culture, and African-American Political Mobilizationp. 133
9. In My Father's House: Religion and Gender in African-American Political Lifep. 154
Epilogue. It Remains to Be Seen: Stability and Change in Religion and African-American Politicsp. 177
Appendix Ap. 187
Appendix Bp. 191
Notesp. 195
Referencesp. 207
Indexp. 221