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Adolph L. Reed, Jr. : The Jesse Jackson Phenomenon

Extrait du livre d’Adolph L. Reed, Jr., The Jesse Jackson Phenomenon: The Crisis of Purpose in Afro-American Politics, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1986, p. 41-60

Reverend Jesse Jackson (left) at the Palais de l’Elysee, at the invitation French President Francois Mitterrand. A translator sits between them. (Photo by THIERRY ORBAN/Sygma via Getty Images)

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Mythology of the Church in Contemporary Afro-American Politics

Exceptionalist approaches to black politics typically are fed by the mystique of black churchliness and religiosity, which postulates a peculiarly racial basis of participation and representation. According to this view, which assumes the organic leadership model, the church is the elemental unit of political mobilization in the black community. Because its structures are decentralized and operate at the “grass roots,” the black church can be construed as an authentically popular institution. Moreover, because this view also assumes a pandemic black religiosity, the church can be understood to be prior and superior to electoral or otherwise procedural institutions as a source of popular legitimations.