A greeting, my name is Anthony “Amp” Elmore. I am the founder of the African and African American Nichiren Buddhist "Secular Movement." We Black Buddhist look upon ourselves as being of "Indigenous Buddhist" ancestry. We use the word "Black" as a synonym for the word "Indigenous." The word "Indigenous" implies culture and history. I live in Memphis, Tennessee where I grew up and live today. My life and environment in Memphis, Tennessee inspired me to be a Buddhist. I had a different life than most African Americans who grew up in Memphis, Tennessee in my era. I grew up as part of the music era that inspired the Memphis music culture. The man that inspired me most in my young life was “Soul Singer James Brown.” I emulated James Brown and I learned all of his dance moves and I desired to be a singer. I entered high school in Memphis just after Dr. King was killed and Memphis music was on the rise. I made the decision to go to an integrated school where I auditioned and became a lead singer in an all White Band.
My experience in life in Memphis was unlike that of very few African Americans of my generation. Being what was called then a “Colored Singer” in an all White Band introduced me to a World and culture unlike that experience by African Americans in Memphis of my era. I learned what it like to be White in America. Our Band had dreams of greatness, but life’s time could not allow a Black man to be associated with White youth. Half of the parents objected to their children being in a band with a Black and our group dissolved. As a teenager only15 or 16 years old I turned to Bible and Black history to find answers as to why I was born Black.
My frustrations lead me to seek out how a God and a Jesus could allow racism and hatred. It was my quest into find answers that lead me to Buddhism. When I was a 16 year youth I joined the Black liberation movement. I wore the Big Fro, the Dashikis, and I was an inspired youth who lead the 1st 18 year old voter registration in Tennessee. I appeared on talk shows and I became a “Black Conscientious youth” who integrated with the hippie movement.
While a youth in college I joined a movement with an aide of Dr. Martin Luther King who convinced me to quit college to join the Black movement full time. I found the Black leader to be disingenuous where I left the movement and absorbed myself in Karate and Eastern philosophy.
In 1974 I joined a Buddhist organization called NSA or Nichiren Shoshu of America. It was NSA Buddhism and Buddhist leader Daisaku Ikeda that brought me back to mainstream America.
I cut my hair, got rid of the Dashikis and joined the Buddhist movement in America. Buddhism helped me to become a 5 time World Karate Kickboxing champion. Later I became a filmmaker, designer, world traveler. I have traveled to Africa many times. In 1995 I married a Kenyan wife. We divorced and I later in 2006 married an Ethiopian wife. My Kenyan wife gave me the most wonderful son who is 15 years old at the time of this posting.
My early road as an African American community activist led me to challenge our Japanese Buddhist teachers Asian Ethnocentric approach to propagating Buddhism in America. As a Buddhist pioneer in America this website is designed to introduce Nichiren Buddhist via an African centered paradigm. Let me site an explanation of what this means. We people of African decent have a wonderful "Buddhist History." We hold that this great history should be taught particularly to people of African decent to help many who are down trodden to gave a sense of "pride and self-repect just knowing that their ancestors have a wonderful Buddhist history. Moreover we are "Secular Buddhist" independent of the Asian Buddhist organizations. We introduce a Buddhism of inclusion where Black Buddhist history, culture and the African American voice and prospectives are realized. Welcome to our Proud Black Buddhist site. Everyone is free to contact us and share their thoughts and opinions. Thank you for stopping by.