Music and Religion in African-American Slave Culture

Topics: Religion, Slavery in the United States, Slavery Pages: 1 (387 words) Published: December 19, 2013
The buying, selling, and trading of human beings for personal labor, slavery, is often thought to be singlehandedly the most atrocious thing that mankind as a whole has created. The horrors these innocent men, women, and children faced on a day to day basis was parallelled perhaps only by the soldiers fighting the war over their freedom. Though slavery was full of negatives, it also blossomed with positives as a means to cope. African-American slaves used several aspects of their native African culture to cope, two primary components being music and religion. Slaves worked under constant watch by their owners, constantly fearing punishment for a slip-up. Enslaved African-Americans obviously resented the way they were being treated, and devised ways to rebel against their owners right under their noses. Reaching back to their African roots, Slaves sang seemingly harmless songs to one another as they worked under the sweltering sun. Little did their owners know that the slaves had weaved intricate secret messages into their lyrical pieces, such as metaphors intended to ridicule their masters or to send signals to other slaves. Their music was a mix of tribal African rhythms and American religious music, as they relied heavily on their religion to cope from day to day. Even though their outlook was bleak, Slaves stayed positive in the face of sheer adversity through their faith. The most common faith among slaves was that of christianity, the christian doctrine being passed down from fathers to sons and so on. Initially, some slaves were not christian, and held fast to their old polytheistic beliefs from their home, Africa. Assimilation was inevitable however, and nearly all negro slaves were converted. Their native religion did not cease to exist, but rather lived on through a stylized take on christianity. They incorporated several aspects of the African religion with christianity, such as rituals and vocalization. Sometimes both religion and music...
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