Religion & Spirituality

Seeking expression of religious freedom, as a fundamental principle of the emerging colonies and newly formed United States, has never been limited to its European founders. African bondsmen and bondswomen not only brought their varied ethnic and tribal belief systems with them and passed them on to subsequent generations, they recognized the importance of retaining that element of self-definition as essential to psychological survival.

The introduction of Judeo-Christian sects and philosophies, while done deliberately to “save the souls” and “civilize the savage instincts” served another grander purpose: Africans could be taught their station in American life through interpretation of biblical codes defining who was “master’ and who was “servant”. As fewer and fewer imported Africans arrived, Christian customs merged with indigenous forms of worship and the blended traditions became an important part of the survival tactics needed to withstand the day to day oppression.