What do you know about Black Hebrew Israelites?

During the twentieth century there have been several African-American groups that organized themselves around the belief that they were the "true" descendants of Israel. In religious practice, these groups broadly fit into three categories: those who follow Jewish customs, those who follow Christian customs, and those who follow a combination of both.  

At their heart, they seem to be motivated by a desire to legitimize themselves in the face of racial discrimination. It is the ultimate one-upmanship, "You may look down on me now, but in the age to come I will be the only one accepted by God." For those trying to resolve the racial atrocities of the past, this is not a helpful position to take, and it is not in line with the Christian teaching that all who repent and trust in Jesus will be accepted by God.  

Many of the groups are considered cults by orthodox Christianity. There is no direct biblical support for their ancestry claims, although they have taken liberties with several scriptures and history in general to support their claims.

The group known as Black Hebrew Israelites is the blanket name for several individual groups. They trace most of the ethnic groups in the Americas back to the 12 tribes of Israel, with African-Americans coming from the tribe of Judah. In 1969, one of these groups from the Chicago area began moving members to Israel under the Law of Return, but were denied citizenship by the Israeli government. They currently live there as permanent residents, but are not ethnically recognized as Jews.

-- IBTM Research Team