By: Neema Griffin & Nia Legrand

The Beginning

There was resistance at first with enslaved Africans converting to christianity because it was forced upon them from the slave owners, they fought to maintain their African religious identity, there were language barriers,etc. (89)

 

Enslaved Africans began to convert to Christianity around 1740 during the Great Awakening. The Great Awakening was a period of religious revival that swept the American colonies in the mid-eighteenth century.

 

Enslaved Africans truly began to convert to Christianity in large numbers around the late 1800s. This is because slaves have been called to Christianity conversations that emphasized their personal experience. 

A lot of Africanized Christianity has to do with culture. The black church serves a special role in the community because it was a place that African American people could go and be acknowledged as people. 

Black people were able to take the foundation of christianity and reform it to be in their own image.

“The spiritual was designed to meet the very special needs, religious and cultural, of disenfranchised people who refused to be defeated or destroyed by the experience of protracted human bondage.”


The spiritual represented freedom and was a way for enslaved Africans to express themselves and their identity being so far away from home.

Component of worship unique to Africanized Christianity

Spirituals

  • “Spirituals were not hymns, as they were frequently referred to by observers.”
  • Spirituals have qualities of structures from West and Central Africa including:
    • call-response
    • a pattern of musical organization
    • demonstrative behaviors ( hand clapping, body movement)
    • “unbridaled displays of religious ecstasy” 

*these qualities are specific to African American inspired christianity. (page 88)

  • “The spiritual was designed to meet the very special needs, religious and cultural, of disenfranchised people who refused to be defeated or destroyed by the experience of protracted human bondage.”
  • The spiritual represented freedom and was a way for enslaved Africans to express themselves and their identity being so far away from home.

Present

To this day, we still see the special relationship that African Americans have to the “black church.” 

 

Negro Spirituals have become a part of American Choral music literature as well as standard hymns for different religions.