Preaching During a Pandemic: The Rhetoric of the Black Preaching Tradition, Vols. 1-2 (Peter Lang Press, 2023)

The Black Church has been more than an institution within American society for well over 400 years. In the enslaved quarters and in the brush harbors, the black preacher managed to inspire, encourage, and equip those shackled within the American slavocracy. This oratorical tradition carried a people through Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, the Black Arts Movement, and the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. Though the Black preacher has been called upon to speak truth and triumph amid these varied seasons of the human plight in America, the COVID-19 pandemic was different. It was different because this was the first time in history that the church was not able to meet physically. The comfort of companionship and collective comradery was strained during the pandemic. Many wondered not only how we do church during this time, but also how one preaches during this time.

Preaching During a Pandemic: The Rhetoric of the Black Preaching Tradition, Vols 1-2 is a collection of sermons from those who preach within the Black preaching tradition. By sharing these sermons, the readers get some insight into questions such as "what are those who preach in the Black preaching tradition sharing with their congregants?" "How are they incorporating and infusing Covid-19 in their sermons?" "What shape does the prophetic and priestly sermon take when preaching during a pandemic?" "Are specific models or types of sermons—womanist, prophetic/liberation, narrative, contemplative, celebrative, expository, thematic, induction, deductive—more frequently employed during a crisis?" 

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The Speeches of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner: The Press, the Platform, and the Pulpit (University of Mississippi Press, 2023)


An essential reader of the powerful orations of an African American religious leader

Henry McNeal Turner (1834–1915) was a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of America’s earliest Black activists and social reformers, and an outspoken proponent of emigration. In The Speeches of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner: The Press, the Platform, and the Pulpit, Andre E. Johnson has compiled selected political speeches, sermons, lectures, and religious addresses delivered by Turner in their original form.

Alongside Turner’s oratory, Johnson places the speeches in their historical context and traces his influence on Black social movements in the twentieth century, from W. E. B. Du Bois’s idea of cultural nationalism to Marcus Garvey’s "Back to Africa" movement, the modern-day civil rights movement, the Black Power movement, James Cone’s Black liberation theology, and more. While Turner was widely known as a great orator and published copious articles, essays, and editorials, no single collection of only Turner’s speeches has yet been published, and scholars have largely ignored his legacy. This volume recovers a lost voice within American and African American rhetorical history, expanding the canon of the African American oratorical tradition.

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No Future in This Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner (University Press of Mississippi, 2020)

Winner of the National Communication Association African American Communication and Culture Division Outstanding Book Award (2021)

Winner of the Religious Communication Association Book of the Year Award (2021)


A critical study of the career of the nineteenth-century bishop

No Future in This Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner is a history of the career of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner (1834–1915), specifically focusing on his work from 1896 to 1915. Drawing on the copious amount of material from Turner’s speeches, editorials, and open and private letters, Andre E. Johnson tells a story of how Turner provided rhetorical leadership during a period in which America defaulted on many of the rights and privileges gained for African Americans during Reconstruction. Unlike many of his contemporaries during this period, Turner did not opt to proclaim an optimistic view of race relations. Instead, Johnson argues that Turner adopted a prophetic persona of a pessimistic prophet who not only spoke truth to power but, in so doing, also challenged and pushed African Americans to believe in themselves.

At this time in his life, Turner had no confidence in American institutions or that the American people would live up to the promises outlined in their sacred documents. While he argued that emigration was the only way for African Americans to retain their “personhood” status, he also would come to believe that African Americans would never emigrate to Africa. He argued that many African Americans were so oppressed and so stripped of agency because they were surrounded by continued negative assessments of their personhood that belief in emigration was not possible. Turner’s position limited his rhetorical options, but by adopting a pessimistic prophetic voice that bore witness to the atrocities African Americans faced, Turner found space for his oratory, which reflected itself within the lament tradition of prophecy.

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The Struggle over Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. (Lexington Books, 2018)

Winner of the National Communication Association African American Communication and Culture Division Outstanding Book Award (2019)


In The Struggle over Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter, Amanda Nell Edgar and Andre E. Johnson examine the surprisingly complex relationship between Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter as it unfolds on social media and in offline interpersonal relationships. Exploring cultural influences like family history, fear, religion, postracialism, and workplace pressure, Edgar and Johnson trace the meanings of these movements from the perspectives of ordinary participants. The Struggle over Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter highlights the motivations for investing in social movements and countermovements to show how history, both remembered and misremembered, bubbles beneath the surface of online social justice campaigns. Through participation in these contemporary movements, online social media users enact continuations of American history through a lens of their own past experiences. This book ties together online and offline, national and local, and personal and political to understand one of the defining social justice struggles of our time.

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Urban God Talk: Constructing a Hip Hop Spirituality (Lexington Books, 2013)


Urban God Talk: Constructing a Hip Hop Spirituality, edited by Andre Johnson, is a collection of essays that examine the religious and spiritual in hip hop. The contributors argue that the prevailing narrative that hip hop offers nothing in the way of religion and spirituality is false. From its beginning, hip hop has had a profound spirituality and advocates religious views—and while not orthodox or systemic, nevertheless, many in traditional orthodox religions would find the theological and spiritual underpinnings in hip hop comforting, empowering, and liberating. In addition, this volume demonstrates how scholars in different disciplines approach the study of hip hop, religion, and spirituality. Whether it is a close reading of a hip hop text, ethnography, a critical studies approach, or even a mixed-method approach, this study is a pedagogical tool for students and scholars in various disciplines to use and appropriate for their own research and understanding.

Urban God Talk will inspire not only scholars to further their research, but will also encourage publishers to print more in this field. The contributors to this in-depth study show how this subject is an underrepresented area within hip hop studies, and that the field is broad enough for numerous monographs, edited works, and journal publications in the future.

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The Forgotten Prophet: Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and the African American Prophetic Tradition (Lexington Books, 2012)

Winner of the African American Communication and Culture Division Outstanding Book Award (2013)


The Forgotten Prophet: Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and the African American Prophetic Tradition, by Andre E. Johnson, is a study of the prophetic rhetoric of nineteenth-century African Methodist Episcopal Church bishop Henry McNeal Turner. By locating Turner within the African American prophetic tradition, Johnson examines how Bishop Turner adopted a prophetic persona. As one of America’s earliest black activists and social reformers, Bishop Turner made an indelible mark in American history and left behind an enduring social influence through his speeches, writings, and prophetic addresses. This text offers a definition of prophetic rhetoric and examines the existing genres of prophetic discourse, suggesting that there are other types of prophetic rhetorics, especially within the African American prophetic tradition. In examining these modes of discourses from 1866-1895, this study further examines how Turner’s rhetoric shifted over time. It examines how Turner found a voice to articulate not only his views and positions but also in the prophetic tradition, the views of the people he claimed to represent. The Forgotten Prophet is a significant contribution to the study of Bishop Turner and the African American prophetic tradition.

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