Cover image for African American religious history : a documentary witness
African American religious history : a documentary witness
Sernett, Milton C., 1942-
Second edition.
Publication Information:
Durham, NC : Duke University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 595 pages ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Rev. ed. of: Afro-American religious history.
Reading Level:
1280 Lexile.
Added Uniform Title:
Afro-American religious history.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BR563.N4 A359 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
BR563.N4 A359 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ
BR563.N4 A359 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



This widely-heralded collection of remarkable documents offers a view of African American religious history from Africa and early America through Reconstruction to the rise of black nationalism, civil rights, and black theology of today. The documents--many of them rare, out-of-print, or difficult to find--include personal narratives, sermons, letters, protest pamphlets, early denominational histories, journalistic accounts, and theological statements. In this volume Olaudah Equiano describes Ibo religion. Lemuel Haynes gives a black Puritan's farewell. Nat Turner confesses. Jarena Lee becomes a female preacher among the African Methodists. Frederick Douglass discusses Christianity and slavery. Isaac Lane preaches among the freedmen. Nannie Helen Burroughs reports on the work of Baptist women. African Methodist bishops deliberate on the Great Migration. Bishop C. H. Mason tells of the Pentecostal experience. Mahalia Jackson recalls the glory of singing at the 1963 March on Washington. Martin Luther King, Jr. writes from the Birmingham jail.
Originally published in 1985, this expanded second edition includes new sources on women, African missions, and the Great Migration. Milton C. Sernett provides a general introduction as well as historical context and comment for each document.

Author Notes

Milton C. Sernett is Professor of African-American studies at Syracuse University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This book remains one of the premier choices for a collection of documentary histories on African American religion. This second edition is greatly improved over the first (nearly 15 years old) with the addition of ten new documentary selections, mostly the voices of black women. Half of the new pieces have been added to the section "From the Great Migration to World War II," underscoring the importance of huge changes brought about in black church life by massive rural-to-urban migrations among African Americans. This trend was explored by Sernett in an earlier study: Bound for the Promised Land: African American Religion and the Great Migration (CH, Feb'98). Another new area of expansion concerns foreign missionary work in Africa, including essays on the Suehn Industrial Mission of Liberia, by Jasper C. Caston and Lula E. Cooper. While one may quibble about the choice of some selections--such as Wallace D. Muhammad's "Self-Government in the New World" instead of Elijah Muhammad on the Nation of Islam, or the exclusion of a selection on black womanist theology--this is an excellent documentary collection on African American religion. Highly recommended for all levels of undergraduates, graduate students, and specialists in the field. L. H. Mamiya; Vassar College

Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition
I From Africa Through Early America
1 Traditional Ibo Religion and CultureOlaudah Equiano
2 African Religions in Colonial JamaicaBryan Edwards
3 Slave Conversion on the Carolina FrontierFrancis Le Jau
4 "Address to the Negroes in the State of New York"Jupiter Hammon
5 Letters from Pioneer Black BaptistsGeorge Liele and Andrew Bryan
6 A Black Puritan's FarewellLemuel Haynes
II Slave Religions in the Antebellum South
7 Plantation Churches: Visible and InvisiblePeter Randolph
8 "Proud of the 'Ole Time' Religion"Sister Kelly
9 Conjuration and WitchcraftHenry Bibb
10 "Great Moral Dilemma"James W.C. Pennington
11 Religion and Slave InsurrectionNat Turner
12 Slaveholding Religion and the Christianity of ChristFrederick Douglass
13 Slave Songs and SpiritualsThomas Wentworth Higginson
III Black Churches North of Slavery and the Freedom Struggle
14 "Life Experience and Gospel Labors"Richard Allen
15 Rise of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion ChurchChristopher Rush
16 A Female Preacher among the African MethodistsJarena Lee
17 African Baptists Celebrate Emancipation in New York StateNathaniel Paul
18 "Our Wretchedness in Consequence of the Preachers of Religion"David Walker
19 "Mrs. Stewart's Farewell Address to Her Friends in the City of Boston"Maria Stewart
20 "To the Citizens of New York"Peter Williams
21 Black Churches in New York City, 1840Charles B. Ray
22 Protesting the "Negro Pew"Jeremiah Asher
23 "I Will Not Live a Slave"Jermain W. Loguen
24 "Welcome to the Ransomed"Daniel Alexander Payne
IV Freedom's Time of Trial: 1865-World War I
25 From Slave to Preacher among the FreedmenIsaac lane
26 "The Colored Methodist Episcopal Church"Lucius H. Holsey
27 Black Religion in the Post-Reconstruction SouthWilliam Wells Brown
28 "Education in the A.M.E. Church"Daniel Alexander Payne
29 The Travail of a Female Colored EvangelistAmanda Smith
30 "The Regeneration of Africa"Alexander Crummell
31 Emigration to AfricaHenry McNeal Turner
32 The First African American Catholic Congress, 1889African American Catholics
33 1899 Presidential Address to the National Baptist ConventionElias C. Morris
34 Bishop C.H. Mason, Church of God in ChristElsie W. Mason
35 "Of the Faith of the Fathers"W.E.B. Dubois
36 "The Race Problem in a Christian State, 1906"Reverdy C. Ransom
37 "What Induced Me to Build a School in the Rural District"Rosa Young
V From the Great Migration to World war II
38 Address on the Great Migration African Methodist Episcopal Council of Bishops
39 "Dear Mary" and "My dear Sister"Letters on the Second Exodus
40 Social Work at Olivet Baptist ChurchS. Mattie Fisher and Mrs. Jessie Mapp
41 Effects of Urbanization on Religious LifeLacy Kirk Williams
42 Report of the Work of Baptist WomenNannie H. Burroughs
43 Address to the Suehn Industrial Mission, LiberiaJasper C. Caston
A Letter from the "Foreign Field"Lula E. Cooper
44 "Things of the Spirit"Carter G. Woodson
45 "The Genius of the Negro Church"Benjamin E. Mays and Joseph W. Nicholson
46 "The Churches of Bronzeville"St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Clayton
VI Twentieth-Century Religious Alternatives
47 Garvey Tells His Own StoryMarcus Garvey
48 "Organized Religion and the Cults"Miles Mark Fischer
49 Black Judaism in HarlemRabbi Matthew
50 "The Realness of God, to you-wards..."Father Divine
51 Elder Lucy SmithHerbert Morrisohn Smith
52 "Self-Government in the New World"Wallace D. Muhammad
VII CIvil Rights, Black Theology, and Beyond
53 "National Baptist Philosophy of Civil Rights"Joseph H. Jackson
54 "Letter from Birmingham Jail--April 16, 1963"Martin Luther King, Jr.
55 Singing of Good Tidings and FreedomMahalia Jackson
56 "The Anatomy of Segregation and Ground of Hope"Howard Thurman
57 "Black Power" Statement, July 31, 1966, and "Black Theology" Statement, June 13, 1969
58 "Black Theology and the Black Church: Where Do We Go From Here?"James H. Cone
59 "The Black Churches: A New Agenda"Lawrence N. Jones