Empowerment Ethics for a Liberated People: A Path to African American Social Transformation

By Cheryl J. Sanders | Go to book overview

1
Testimony

Conversion testimonies of Africans enslaved in America represent one of the earliest forms of autobiography to appear in African American literature, dating back to the second half of the eighteenth century. William L. Andrews has related this form of spiritual autobiography to the pursuit of personal freedom and spiritual empowerment:

The black spiritual autobiographer traced his or her freedom back
to the acquisition of some sort of saving knowledge and to an
awakening of awareness within. The recognition of one’s true
identity, unfettered by either the slavery of sin or the sin of slavery,
set in motion a process by which early black Christians, and later,
black slaves, attained spiritual as well as secular freedom.1

Christian slaves who spoke with eloquence of their conversion experiences often testified also against the evil of slavery. By the antebellum period the majority of religious slaves were either Baptist or Methodist, typically having been converted at revivals, camp meetings, and other such means that flourished as conversion-oriented evangelical Protestantism swept the South. There is abundant evidence that slaves shaped their own distinc-

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Empowerment Ethics for a Liberated People: A Path to African American Social Transformation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction - Ethics for a People "In Charge" 1
  • 1 - Testimony 10
  • 2 - Protest 26
  • 3 - Uplift 43
  • 4 - Cooperation 61
  • 5 - Achievement 80
  • 6 - Remoralization 95
  • 7 - Ministry 114
  • Notes 125
  • Index 136
  • A Note on the Cover Art 141
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