The terms "Black Hebrews" and "Black Israelites" refer to a group of organizations and groups of people made up of black Africans who claim Hebrew or Israelite ancestry. The groups are distinct with varied specific beliefs, the unifying feature being that each consists of members of black African descent who claim Hebrew ancestry.
The Black Hebrews / Black Israelites – Who are they?
One group, the Original African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem (known as the African Israelites) say that a group of Jews escaped from the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and ended up in West Africa. Their descendants were enslaved and taken to the United States. This organization began in the 1960s.
Ben Ammi (formerly Ben Carter of Chicago; this name literally means "Son of My People") established the Original African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem. He claims he was visited by the angel Gabriel and told to lead a group of West Africans to Israel after a time of purification. After two years, about 400 people who completed the period of purification in Liberia began migrating to Israel in 1969. They were granted temporary tourist visas, but once in Israel had no intention of leaving. Those who immigrated were eventually granted residency, but not citizenship, in 2004. Now there are about 2,500 African Israelites living in Israel who follow strict dietary and behavioral laws including veganism and the Old Testament Mosaic Law.
The Nation of Yahweh claims all Old Testament prophets, Jesus Christ, and God the Father are racially black. White people, especially Jews, are infidels, they say, calling them "white devils." Black people, they say, are the true Jews. The Nation of Yahweh is considered racist and has a history of violence and terror.
Other similar groups exist, including the Church of the Living God, the Pillar Ground of Truth for All Nations, the Church of God and Saints of Christ, and the Commandment Keepers. They all claim to have descended from Old Testament Hebrews.
Because Hebrews spent 400 years in Africa before Moses led them to the Promised Land, and because Jews were dispersed after the Roman expulsion of AD 70 and Israel is so close to Africa, it is, of course, possible there are black Hebrews. In fact, the Beta Israel group in Ethiopia who follow ancient Judaism is recognized by the nation of Israel and by the majority of Jews as being historically Jewish.
Whether any of the Black Hebrew / Black Israelite groups have Jewish ancestry is not really the most important issue. What is important is what these groups believe and how they live. Almost all these groups deny the deity of Jesus Christ and His atoning death and victorious resurrection. Apart from Jesus there can be no salvation. Whether someone is historically Hebrew or not, salvation comes through Jesus alone (Acts 4:12; Galatians 3:27–29).
Was Jesus black?
What is a biblical view of prejudice, descrimination, and racism?
Why is there so much anti-Semitism in the world?
Who can be saved?
How can I be saved?
Truth about Religion