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Ethelred Brown and the Character of New Negro Leadership

Ethelred Brown and the Character of New Negro Leadership

(p.45) Chapter 2 Ethelred Brown and the Character of New Negro Leadership
City of Islands
Tammy L. Brown
University Press of Mississippi

From the 1920s through the 1930s, Jamaican-born Unitarian minister Ethelred Brown was an important figure in the New Negro movement. Brown’s biography demonstrates how the battle for political power among black leaders was local, cultural and personal. Brown’s ambitious personality and Caribbean cultural identity shaped his use of Unitarianism as liberation theology—to uplift and inspire with the hope of liberating Jamaicans from the tyranny of British colonial rule and black Americans from the albatross of Jim Crow racism, and, in the process, make a name for himself. Although Brown was one man with limited resources, as founder of the first black Unitarian church in Harlem, member of the Socialist Party, and leading figure in several Jamaican nationalist organizations, Brown stood at the vanguard of radical, leftist politics. As a Jamaican immigrant, he leveraged his status as a British colonial subject to gain fiscal support for his ministry and to challenge racism within the Unitarian church in Jamaica and the U.S. In all of these endeavors, Brown used his personal biography and Caribbean identity as a type of cultural capital to further his mission of racial uplift and anti-colonialism.

Keywords:   Religion, New Negro, Unitarianism, Harlem, Ethelred Brown

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