Starting as early as 1619, negro spirituals were used to convey Christian values while also incorporating hardships of slavery amongst African Americans. The spirituals expressed that one day, whether in this life or the afterlife, that they would be set free from the chains of slavery. Many of these songs were referred to as “sorrow songs.”
Many of these songs have been passed down over the centuries and are very well known to us. A couple of these include Go Down Moses, Follow the drinking Gourd, and Wade in the Water which were associated with the Underground Railroad. It was believed that spirituals helped slaves to remember escape routes. Through these songs, African Americans showed their emotional and spiritual strength living through the years of being enslaved.
“The Origins and History of Spirituals.” Marin Theatre Company, www.marintheatre.org/productions/choir-boy/the-origins-and-history-of-spirituals.
Terrell, Ross. “From Slavery To Civil Rights: The Legacy Of Negro Spirituals In Georgia.” Georgia Public Broadcasting, www.gpb.org/news/2019/09/17/slavery-civil-rights-the-legacy-of-negro-spirituals-in-georgia.