Amazing Grace: The Black Church in White America
This seminar will explore the relationship between faith and freedom through the lens of the African American experience in the United States. The course is, in part, historical, as we find the origins of black religion within the experience of slavery. This seminar is also a personal and theological exploration of the sustaining faith of black people in a land where the Bible was used to justify slavery and continuing oppression. Through the oral tradition, black sacred music anchored the faith and sustained a strong sense of community among African Americans. They set the narrative of their struggle and their hope to music. We will study spirituals, call and response, meter hymns, congregational songs, freedom songs of the Civil Rights Movement, and traditional and contemporary gospel. We will also examine what has been called a "deep social conservatism" within the black church tradition. Is this true, or do moderate and progressive voices dwell there as well? As we combine historical sketches and biblical interpretation with the musical experiences of African Americans, we will learn by “doing” in this course. Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon says, “When we sing, we announce our existence.” Get ready to sing!