How are religious themes used in the African American struggle for human rights in the U.S.
p THE USE OF RELIGIOUS THEMES IN THE AFRICAN AMERICAN
STRUGGLE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES , 1865-1914 In the wake of the Civil War in the United States black people found themselves ’93free ’94 in the sense that they were no longer held in slavery , but clearly denied equal rights . As the Reconstruction Era settled into its failure to provide black people with effective relief from racism , African-Americans looked for ways to bolster their claims to a right to an equal life . In many cases they turned to religious [banner_entry_middle]
justification for their claims . Over the succeeding decades , the complaints of black people were to remain relatively constant in the face of the overt racism into which the nation settled While the racism remained constant , however , the response of African-Americans gradually shifted , and a part of that evolution was the decline in the importance of religious themes in the statements of blacks challenging racism
Part of the importance of religion reflects the fact that the ministry had been one of the areas in which African-American were freer to acquire learning skills . A minister was expected to be a man of learning , while white generally feared learning in the black population as a whole . Ministers were also expected to be persuasive leaders in their communities . For many reasons , it was only natural that in the decades immediately after emancipation , the ministry provided many of the foremost figures in the struggle for equality . As learning and avenues for leadership became more widespread , there was a comparative decline in the importance of overtly religious training in leadership in the African-American community . The additional fact that white churches were often overt in their racism further weakened the power of religion as a moving force in the movement for equality
Speaking in response to his expulsion form the Georgia legislature on the grounds of his race , Henry MacNeal Turner drew on his extensive religious background to call for black Christian nationalism . His speech is filled with allusions to the Bible : ’93back to the day when God breathed the breath of life into Adam ’94 ’93an offense committed by the God of Heaven Religious Themes in the African American Struggle for Human Rights , 1865-1914 Page Himself ’94 ’93there is not a Cherubim that sit around God ’92s eternal Throne ’94 ’93while the sun shall continue to climb the hills of heaven ’94 ’93it is a thrust at the Bile – ’96 a thrust at the God of the Universe ’94 ’93it is simply calling the Great Jehovah a fool ’94 ’93a land where Bibles are read and Gospel truths are spoken (Turner 132-34
[R]emember that there is a just God in Heaven , whose All-Seeing Eye beholds alike the acts of the oppressor and the oppressed , and who despite the machinations of the wicked , never fails to vindicate the cause of Justice , and the sanctity of His own handiwork (Turner 134 T . Thomas Fortune had no background in the… [banner_entry_footer]
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