We’re pleased to announce that Truthdig’s Mel White took home the top prize at the L.A. Press Club’s Fifth Annual National Entertainment Journalism (NEJ) Awards in the online critic category. White won for the review of James H. Cone’s book “The Cross and the Lynching Tree,” beating out runner-up Maureen Ryan of The Huffington Post and third-place finisher Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter.
In their comments, the judges said: “Rev. Mel White’s riveting review of a book linking Jesus’ death on the cross with the lynchings of blacks brings a compassionate empathy for victims of inhumane treatment throughout history.”
From White’s piece:
For more than 40 years I’ve been moved and provoked by the writings of James Cone, Union Seminary’s distinguished professor of systematic theology. While reading his newest book, “The Cross and the Lynching Tree,” however, I felt grief and anger on a whole new scale. I felt grief for the nearly 5,000 African-American men, women and children who were lynched between 1880 and 1940, and anger that during that 60-year holocaust, white preachers, evangelists and theologians didn’t even notice. No author has ever made me more ashamed to be a white American Christian and at the same time no author has ever given me a more dramatic example of the sustaining power of the cross.
All my life I had been taught that the cross was at the heart of my Christian faith. It has been a long time since I was deeply moved by it. “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” helped me experience the cross on a far more visceral level. Cone says it simply: Jesus was lynched. He makes the connection between the crucifixion of Jesus and the lynching of African-Americans. He explains why understanding that connection is vital to understanding the meaning of the cross.