Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Antonio Velasco

Committee Member

Andre Johnson

Committee Member

W. Johnson

Committee Member

Christi Moss


The physical and rhetorical presentations in Albert Cleage Jrs 1968 publication, The Black Messiah, had an enormous impact on the theological and rhetorical landscape of the late 1960s and continues to echo into the early part of the 21st century. This book of 20 sermons preached at the height of the black power movement in Detroit was disruptive to a white supremacist religious consciousness that plagued the mainstream religious arena and general American public. The Black Messiah has contributed substantially to the change in public discourse about Jesus, Christianity, Black Power, and what it meant to the Christian then (and now). As a rhetorical artifact, the book exemplifies the intersections of rhetoric, race, and religion. This dissertation centers the method of close readings to analyze The Black Messiah through the lenses of Contemporary Rhetorical Theory, African American Religious and Prophetic Rhetoric, and Black Power Studies. I contextualize the presentation of the content of the book by calling for communication studies to offer a more intentional engagement with religious rhetoric and challenging the conventions of traditional rhetorical theory and systematic theology. I conclude with deep dives into three of Cleages most provocative sermons, An Epistle to Stokely,Brother Malcolm, and Dr. King and Black Power.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest