In simple terms, The Great Awakening was a period of religious revival that swept the American colonies in the mid-eighteenth century, beginning in 1740. This time period was a prerequisite for the birthing of the Negro spiritual.

 

While most documentation of the Great Awakening leaves out the African American history, as pictured in the image above, enslaved people had a vital part of these revivals and their own conversion to Christianity. As a result of the revival movements, many Americans abandoned the hierarchical religion of their ancestors for a more egalitarian, or equal, God who offered more immediate salvation. Fearing the Christian message of spiritual equality, slave owners initially resisted evangelicals preaching to those enslaved, but as the revival movement spread, a few even came to consider it their Christian duty to teach their slaves about the Bible. Unwelcomed to commune with their white counterparts, slaves often worshipped in secret in defiance of laws that prohibited their assembly without white supervision, 
Nnenna Nchege

Nnenna Nchege

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