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Thu, 06.10.1886

The Black Hebrew Israelites, a story

*The Black Hebrew Israelites were affirmed on this date in 1886. Also called Hebrew Israelites, Black Hebrews, Black Israelites, and African Hebrew Israelites are groups of African Americans who believe they are the descendants of the ancient Israelites.

Black Hebrew Israelites are not associated with the mainstream Jewish community, and they do not meet the standards used to identify people as Jewish by the Jewish community. They are also not affiliated with the Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem. Some sub-groups believe that Native and Latin Americans are descendants of the Israelites. Black Hebrew Israelites combine elements to their teaching from various sources: to varying degrees, Black Hebrew Israelites incorporate aspects of the religious beliefs and practices of Christianity and Judaism, though they have created their interpretation of the Bible, and other influences include Freemasonry and New Thought.

Many identify as Hebrew Israelites or Black Hebrews rather than Jews to indicate their historical connections. The Black Hebrew Israelite movement began when Frank Cherry and William Saunders Crowdy claimed to have received visions that African Americans are descendants of the Hebrews in the Bible. Cherry established the Church of the Living God, the Pillar Ground of Truth for All Nations, in 1886, and Crowdy founded the Church of God and Saints of Christ in 1896 in Virginia. Black Hebrew groups were founded in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, from Kansas to New York City, by African Americans and West Indian immigrants.

In the mid-1980s, Black Hebrews in the United States were between 25,000 and 40,000. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), "Some, but not all [Black Hebrew Israelites], are outspoken anti-Semites and racists." As of December 2019, the Southern Poverty Law Center "lists 144 Black Hebrew Israelite organizations as black separatist hate groups because of their antisemitic and anti-white beliefs". Former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Tom Metzger once remarked to the Southern Poverty Law Center, "They're the black counterparts of us."

They are also outside the fold of mainstream Christianity, which considers Black Hebrew Israelism to be heresy. Black Hebrew Israelism is a non-homogenous movement with several groups with varying beliefs and practices. Academics have criticized various sects of Black Hebrew Israelism for promoting historical revisionism.


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