Pass It On Up: The Movement of Negro Spirituals through Black American History

The Origin of the Negro Spirituals:

       Negro Spirituals is a music genre made by the enslaved Africans in America during the 18th century.  These songs often mixed in elements of the Christian church and the storytelling of the slaves. Often used as a comfort for most, negro spirituals were sung as a way to tell the stories of the hardships these slaves endured. Negro spirituals would usually be spread through the plantations by word of mouth and later were transcribed. These songs have always represented strength and the fight for the freedom of the slaves, so it understandable why as descendants of these slaves we still use these songs for our fight for justice.

Use in Black Churches:

   One of the common places we can see the use of negro spirituals in today’s life is through the Black American Churches. Since Negro spirituals have a part of the origin in the Christian church, these songs are sometimes throughout of as the physical form of the slaves’ faith. The faith to make it through the hardships, the faith to make a better future for generations to come, the faith for their souls to rest and story to live on. These faiths were thought of to be rooted in the their new found God. As generations passed this became the common way to praise in the Black church. using these songs in as not only a way to praise, but to also keep telling the faith of our ancestors.

Negro Spirituals in the Civil Rights Movement:

      Since Negro Spirituals had such a big role in the churches and the churches had a role in the Civil Rights Movement, we can also see how these songs have influenced the fight for equality. As many Black Americans walked the streets or sat in protest, they would sing the Negro Spirituals. Songs like “Oh Freedom,” “Steal Way,” and “Ain’t Gonna Let No Body Turn Me ‘Round, ” were used not only for protest, but for solidarity between those who were fighting. The lyrics gave the same comfort and inspiration that it gave to those who first sang them. The songs were a little modernized so that it would specifically fit into the movement, but the overall message was still based in the faith.

Why It's all Important:

     As we see the passing of Negro Spirituals throughout Black American History, we should also look at how it can influence the now. At this time in life we, as Black Americans, are still fighting for the same equality as those who came before us. As we move on with our own movements, such as BLM, we should pay remembrance those who also fought before us and tell there stories through continuing to sing these Negro Spirituals. This is their history and what they have left behind for us to be used as a source of encouragement and strength through our present.

     In conclusion, Negro Spirituals are a huge part of the Black American experience and has prolonged throughout every major fight for justice in the Black community. As we progress through the fight for equality in the now, we must pay respect to the music of ancestors.


Terrell, Ross. “From Slavery To Civil Rights: The Legacy Of Negro Spirituals In Georgia.” Georgia  Public Broadcasting, georgia#:~:text=As%20the%20economy’s%20dependence%20on,carries%20on%20today%2C%20centuries%20later.

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