Religious Studies | Black Religion: Slavery to Freedom
R300 | 3593 | Dixie


R300 Black Religion: Slavery to Freedom
(3 Cr.) TR 9:30-10:45 BH 209 (Dixie)

This course traces the development of African-American religious
institutions from the close of the Civil War to the present. We will
examine a wide range of organizations, including the National Baptist
Convention, the Nation of Islam, and the Nation of Gods and Earths (Five
Percenters). At various times in African-American history, religion has
been characterized as both an instrument for social change and an
impediment to black progress. We will use some current ideas in social
movement theory to thicken our understanding of the complex role of
religion in African-American history and culture.

The course begins by exploring the creation and development of independent
black denominations during Reconstruction and quickly moves to discussion
of the impact of Booker T. Washington's self-help philosophy on the
maturation of black religious organizations. From there we shall look at
the tension between black church culture in the rural South and its
counterpart in the urban North. This tension was exacerbated at the turn
of the 20th century by the spread of the Holiness and Pentecostal
movements in America, and steadily increased as black migrants traveled
"from Mississippi to Manhattan" in search of work. Other subjects to be
addressed over the course of the semester include: the many expressions of
Islam in the black community; the role of women in black religious
institutions; religion and the Civil Rights Movement; and the importance
of religious organizations in black economic development and social
service work. Finally we will look at how hip hop culture employs
religious ideas and spirituality to promote positivity and personal
growth.