Author Explores African American Faith Stories

Famed gospel singer Ethel Waters was given a standing ovation after she spoke at the Billy Graham crusade in Seattle’s Kingdome on Sunday, May 10, 1976 . The famed singer sang “His Eye Is On the Sparrow.”
Famed gospel singer Ethel Waters was given a standing ovation after she spoke at the Billy Graham crusade in Seattle’s Kingdome on Sunday, May 10, 1976 . The famed singer sang “His Eye Is On the Sparrow.” Brownell / AP Photo
Famed gospel singer Ethel Waters was given a standing ovation after she spoke at the Billy Graham crusade in Seattle’s Kingdome on Sunday, May 10, 1976 . The famed singer sang “His Eye Is On the Sparrow.”
Famed gospel singer Ethel Waters was given a standing ovation after she spoke at the Billy Graham crusade in Seattle’s Kingdome on Sunday, May 10, 1976 . The famed singer sang “His Eye Is On the Sparrow.” Brownell / AP Photo

Author Explores African American Faith Stories

With his book "Faith and Struggle in the Lives of Four African Americans," author Randal Jelks seeks to take readers beyond the headlines. While Americans so often view the black American experience through narratives like slavery, emancipation and the Black Lives Matter movement, Jelks argues that to truly comprehend those narratives, one must learn about the individual stories that comprise them. His new book therefore explores the faith stories of four African Americans: Ethel Waters, Mary Lou Williams, Eldridge Cleaver and Muhammad Ali. Each used faith as a tool in his or her personal and public life in the twentieth century, as the book explores. Jelks is a professor of African and African American studies, as well as American studies, at the University of Kansas.