The Burden of Black Religion

Paperback | April 17, 2008

byCurtis J. Evans

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Religion has always been a focal element in the long and tortured history of American ideas about race. In The Burden of Black Religion, Curtis Evans traces ideas about African American religion from the antebellum period to the middle of the twentieth century. Central to the story, he argues, was the deep-rooted notion that blacks were somehow "naturally" religious. At first, this assumed natural impulse toward religion served as a signal trait of black people's humanity - potentially their unique contribution to American culture. Abolitionists seizedon this point, linking black religion to the black capacity for freedom. Soon, however, these first halting steps toward a multiracial democracy were reversed. As Americans began to value reason, rationality, and science over religious piety, the idea of an innate black religiosity was used to justify preserving the inequalities of the status quo. Later, social scientists - both black and white - sought to reverse the damage caused by these racist ideasand in the process proved that blacks were in fact fully capable of incorporation into white American culture. This important work reveals how interpretations of black religion played a crucial role in shaping broader views of African Americans and had real consequences in their lives. In the process, Evans offers an intellectual and cultural history of race in a crucial period of American history.

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Religion has always been a focal element in the long and tortured history of American ideas about race. In The Burden of Black Religion, Curtis Evans traces ideas about African American religion from the antebellum period to the middle of the twentieth century. Central to the story, he argues, was the deep-rooted notion that blacks w...

Curtis Evans is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Florida State University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.68 inPublished:April 17, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195329317

ISBN - 13:9780195329315

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"This important book offers a fresh and provocative take on the manner in which religion has been used to frame and shape the place and function of African Americans within the United States in particular as well as the creation of the nation in more general terms. The challenges this bookoffers are vital. I highly recommend it." --Anthony B. Pinn, Rice University, author of Terror and Triumph: The Nature of Black Religion