Tracing the relationship of black sacred music and social change, Wyatt Walker observes, ". . .if you listen to what black people are singing religiously, it will provide a clue as to what is happening to them sociologically." Walker traces the musical expressions of the black religious tradition from its roots in the "invisible church" of the slave society to its influence upon the black religious experience today. He challenges the black church to preserve this rich musical resource so that black sacred music will become one of the gifts of black people to the church universal.
Wyatt Tee Walker (born August 16, 1929) is pastor, national civil rights leader, theologian, and cultural historian. He was a Chief of Staff for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and in 1958 became an early board member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He helped found the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) in 1958. As executive director of the SCLC from 1960 to 1964, Walker helped to bring the group to national prominence.
Walker started as pastor at historic Gillfield Baptist Church in Petersburg, VA, where he entered the Civil Rights Movement. For 37 years Dr. Walker was Senior Pastor at Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem, NY, where he also co-founded the Religious Action Network of Africa Action to oppose apartheid in South Africa, and chaired the Central Harlem Local Development Corporation.
Rev. Walker retired in 2004 with the title of Pastor Emeritus of Canaan Baptist Church. He lives in Virginia and teaches at the School of Theology at his alma mater Virginia Union University in Richmond.
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