“An Ante-bellum Sermon”:
A Resource for an African
David T. Shannon
According to current folklore, a young boy was once told about the many conquests of hunters over the lion. This story intrigued the little boy; he was puzzled and inquired: “If the lion is supposed to be the king of the jungle, why is it that the hunter always wins?” The father responded: “The hunter will always win until the lion writes his own story!” The same may be said about African Americans, who have also been victimized by having their story told by others. As long as this tendency persists the real story of African Americans will not have been told. Fortunately, this is now changing. African American scholars have researched slave testimonies to insure that the nobility of their people and culture is acknowledged, recognized, and celebrated. John W. Blassingame, noted researcher on the slave narrative, states, “If scholars want to know the hearts and secret thoughts of Blacks they must study the testimony of Blacks.”1 As I hope to show, the African American slave sermon can be one such testimony.2
1. John W. Blassingame, Slave Testimony (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Press, 1977), Ixv.
2. This study is informed by the perceptions of Keneth Kinnamon and others who
argue that African American literature from its earliest time to the present has been