African American Religious History

A Documentary Witness

African American Religious History

The C. Eric Lincoln Series on the Black Experience

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Book Pages: 608 Illustrations: Published: January 2000

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, History > U.S. History, Religious Studies

This widely-heralded collection of remarkable documents offers a view of African American religious history from Africa and early America through Reconstruction to the rise of black nationalism, civil rights, and black theology of today. The documents—many of them rare, out-of-print, or difficult to find—include personal narratives, sermons, letters, protest pamphlets, early denominational histories, journalistic accounts, and theological statements. In this volume Olaudah Equiano describes Ibo religion. Lemuel Haynes gives a black Puritan’s farewell. Nat Turner confesses. Jarena Lee becomes a female preacher among the African Methodists. Frederick Douglass discusses Christianity and slavery. Isaac Lane preaches among the freedmen. Nannie Helen Burroughs reports on the work of Baptist women. African Methodist bishops deliberate on the Great Migration. Bishop C. H. Mason tells of the Pentecostal experience. Mahalia Jackson recalls the glory of singing at the 1963 March on Washington. Martin Luther King, Jr. writes from the Birmingham jail.
Originally published in 1985, this expanded second edition includes new sources on women, African missions, and the Great Migration. Milton C. Sernett provides a general introduction as well as historical context and comment for each document.



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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Milton C. Sernett is Professor of African-American studies at Syracuse University. He is the author of several books, including Bound for the Promised Land, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface to the Second Edition ix

Introduction 1

I. From Africa Through Early America

1. Traditional Ibo Religion and Culture / Olaudah Equiano 13

2. African Religions in Colonial Jamaica / Bryan Edwards 20

3. Slave Conversion on the Carolina Frontier / Francis Le Jau 25

4. "Address to the Negroes in the State of New York" / Jupiter Hammon 34

5. Letters from Pioneer Black Baptists / George Liele and Andrew Bryan 44

6. A Black Puritan's Farewell / Lemuel Haynes 52

II. Slave Religions in the Antebellum South

7. Plantation Churches: Visible and Invisible / Peter Randolph 63

8. "Proud of the 'Ole Time' Religion" / Sister Kelly 69

9. Conjuration and Witchcraft / Henry Bibb 76

10. "Great Moral Dilemma" / James W.C. Pennington 81

11. Religion and Slave Insurrection / Nat Turner 89

12. Slaveholding Religion and the Christianity of Christ / Frederick Douglass 102

13. Slave Songs and Spirituals / Thomas Wentworth Higginson 112

III. Black Churches North of Slavery and the Freedom Struggle

14. "Life Experience and Gospel Labors" / Richard Allen 139

15. Rise of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church / Christopher Rush 155

16. A Female Preacher among the African Methodists / Jarena Lee 164

17. African Baptists Celebrate Emancipation in New York State / Nathaniel Paul 185

18. "Our Wretchedness in Consequence of the Preachers of Religion" / David Walker 193

19. "Mrs. Stewart's Farewell Address to Her Friends in the City of Boston" / Maria Stewart 202

20. "To the Citizens of New York" / Peter Williams 211

21. Black Churches in New York City, 1840 / Charles B. Ray 218

22. Protesting the "Negro Pew" / Jeremiah Asher 224

23. "I Will Not Live a Slave" / Jermain W. Loguen 228

24. "Welcome to the Ransomed" / Daniel Alexander Payne 232

IV. Freedom's Time of Trial: 1865-World War I

25. From Slave to Preacher among the Freedmen / Isaac lane 245

26. "The Colored Methodist Episcopal Church" / Lucius H. Holsey 252

27. Black Religion in the Post-Reconstruction South / William Wells Brown 256

28. "Education in the A.M.E. Church" / Daniel Alexander Payne 261

29. The Travail of a Female Colored Evangelist / Amanda Smith 270

30. "The Regeneration of Africa" / Alexander Crummell 282

31. Emigration to Africa / Henry McNeal Turner 289

32. The First African American Catholic Congress, 1889 / African American Catholics 296

33. 1899 Presidential Address to the National Baptist Convention / Elias C. Morris 301

34. Bishop C.H. Mason, Church of God in Christ / Elsie W. Mason 314

35. "Of the Faith of the Fathers" / W.E.B. Dubois 325

36. "The Race Problem in a Christian State, 1906" / Reverdy C. Ransom 337

37. "What Induced Me to Build a School in the Rural District" / Rosa Young 347

V. From the Great Migration to World war II

38. Address on the Great Migration / African Methodist Episcopal Council of Bishops 359

39. "Dear Mary" and "My dear Sister" / Letters on the Second Exodus 364

40. Social Work at Olivet Baptist Church / S. Mattie Fisher and Mrs. Jessie Mapp 368

41. Effects of Urbanization on Religious Life / Lacy Kirk Williams 372

42. Report of the Work of Baptist Women / Nannie H. Burroughs 376

43. Address to the Suehn Industrial Mission, Liberia / Jasper C. Caston 403

A Letter from the "Foreign Field" / Lula E. Cooper 410

44. "Things of the Spirit" / Carter G. Woodson 415

45. "The Genius of the Negro Church" / Benjamin E. Mays and Joseph W. Nicholson 423

46. "The Churches of Bronzeville" / St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Clayton 435

VI. Twentieth-Century Religious Alternatives

47. Garvey Tells His Own Story / Marcus Garvey 453

48. "Organized Religion and the Cults" / Miles Mark Fischer 464

49. Black Judaism in Harlem / Rabbi Matthew 473

50. "The Realness of God, to you-wards..." / Father Divine 478

51. Elder Lucy Smith / Herbert Morrisohn Smith 487

52. "Self-Government in the New World" / Wallace D. Muhammad 499

VII. CIvil Rights, Black Theology, and Beyond

53. "National Baptist Philosophy of Civil Rights" / Joseph H. Jackson 511

54. "Letter from Birmingham Jail--April 16, 1963" / Martin Luther King, Jr. 519

55. Singing of Good Tidings and Freedom /Mahalia Jackson 536

56. "The Anatomy of Segregation and Ground of Hope" / Howard Thurman 548

57. "Black Power" Statement, July 31, 1966, and "Black Theology" Statement, June 13, 1969 555

58. "Black Theology and the Black Church: Where Do We Go From Here?" / James H. Cone 567

59. "The Black Churches: A New Agenda" / Lawrence N. Jones 580

Index 589
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2449-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2426-3
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