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The Columbia Guide to Religion in American History$
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Paul Harvey and Edward Blum

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231140201

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231140201.001.0001

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Religion, Race, and African American Life

Religion, Race, and African American Life

Chapter:
(p.213) 10. Religion, Race, and African American Life
Source:
The Columbia Guide to Religion in American History
Author(s):

Edward J. Blum

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231140201.003.0011

This chapter examines the history of religious life among African Americans. In 1903, W. E. B. Du Bois laid the foundation for the evaluation of religion, race, and African American life with two works: The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches and The Negro Church. Du Bois focused on the forging of Africans into African Americans, the creation and vitality of slave religion, the importance of churches as pioneering black institutions, the effects of emancipation on the minds and psyches of African Americans, and the devastating consequences of racism, lynching, and discrimination. In the first half of the century, African American religious history focused primarily on whether black religion resisted or accommodated to structures of racial oppression. Most historians of African American religion addressed three main issues: slave religion, the conversion of a significant number of African Americans to Protestantism, and black religious institution-building. This chapter also discusses the influence of the Great Migration and Great Depression on the course of black religion, along with the role played by religion in the civil rights movement.

Keywords:   religious life, African Americans, W. E. B. Du Bois, religion, race, slave religion, racism, religious history, black religion, civil rights movement

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