Standing in the Need of Prayer: A Celebration of Black Prayer


From the darkest days on slave ships to the defiant times of the Civil Rights Movement, prayer has embodied the most intense expression of African and African-American spirituality. As Mrs. Coretta Scott King writes in her foreword to Standing in the Need of Prayer, "It is said that every prayer is heard and every prayer is answered in some way [and] I still believe that the millions of prayers spoken by African Americans from the Middle Passage on down to today have been heard by a righteous and loving God."

In this remarkable book, striking photographs and powerful prayers drawn from the unparalleled collections of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture span the broad spectrum of black religious traditions during the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. From the plaintive Yoruba prayer to "Look after us,/Look after our children" and the humble opening prayer of the Qur'̢n to "Guide us on the right path" to W. E. B. Du Bois's prideful prayer to "Let [Thy children] grow in the capacity for worthy work...and may they in the end prove worthy of their great heritage," this extraordinary volume reflects the struggle, despair, determination, and triumph of the black experience through the ages. Drawing from faiths as diverse as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Vodou, the book also includes prayers from some of history's most powerful voices, among them Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

At once beautiful and evocative, Standing in the Need of Prayer captures the most varied, striking, and powerful photographic and poetic expressions of prayer in a joyous celebration of the rich spiritual roots of a courageous people whose incredible spiritual journey will inspire generations to come.



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