Abolitionist movement which began between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War was a great mobilization of efforts of black people to abolish the slavery both in the United States and in other countries that had it as a law. This movement was actively supported by black preachers and churches. The slavery was a practice in relation to black people beginning from 1619 and was practices in every state of the United States. The results of abolitionist movement became evident when in 1808 legal slavery was abolished by amendments to American Constitution but until the end of Civil War the slavery still persisted as the major servitude practice in the United States. The process of slavery abolition was significantly fostered by various Northern Abolitionist Societies such as American Antislavery Society found in 1833. Various black religious leaders such as James Pennington, Sojourner Truth and others actively engaged in the abolitionist movement (McMickle 2002). Such publications as The North Star and Freedom’s Journal effectively promoted the cause of slavery abolition. In 1859 John Brown of Kansas tried with a group of 21 people to capture the arsenal with arms to give them to slaves and make insurrection (D’Anjou 1996). But he was captured and hanged. The cause of freedom for black people was accomplished only in 1865.
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- The abolitionist movement deeply affected and shaped religious experience. There were two main reasons for this. First of all, black religious leaders played a great role in the abolitionist movement and deeply tied the cause of liberation from slavery with biblical motives of man’s dignity, freedom and Christian motives of liberation. The second reason lies in the fact that Christianity for oppressed people was the only way to escape daily neglect for their human rights and their suffering.
- Religious experience of the abolitionist movement is evident in the today’s Black community which presents the main voice of Afro-American people in the United States. The movement which heavily relied on religious faith transgresses historic boundaries and becomes deeply embedded in human consciousness tying life of people in this world with faith for the better future.
Beginning from 1770 such American leaders started to foster the idea of freeing black people from slavery and sending them to Africa and other countries from which they originated. This endeavor was called colonization. Many black leaders opposed it but some as Lott Carey, Daniel Coker and others supported it. John Russworm as a proponent of colonization movement claimed that black people even after the abolition of slavery would not be regarded as equal in American society and thus must be colonized. Colonization was also linked with the issue of Christianization because it was considered that free black people could undertake the tasks of evangelization of African continent. In 1858 the African Civilization Society with the goal of spreading Christianity in all continents where black people were dispersed.
Such leaders like Frederick Douglas, however, opposed colonization because they regarded America as their native land (Staudenraus, 1961). The issue of colonization after the abolishment of slavery stayed on the societal agenda even until 1939 when Senator Theodore Bilbo proposed a colonization of all black people to Africa.
- Of course, this movement deeply affected and influenced African American Religious Experience because this issue became one of the main contradictions in Black community. The positive influence of colonization is that it helped create new religious leaders promoting the cause of Christianity to the world.
- Nowadays colonization continues in a new dimension. Black religious communities have activities in many countries promoting religion, human dignity and faith in many regions of the world and have supporters in other cultures and religions. Thus, modern ‘colonization’ has positive implications for the promotion of religious mindset to people of various cultures and traditions.
Staudenraus, P. J. The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961.
McMickle, M. A. An Encyclopedia of African American Christian Heritage. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 2002.
D’Anjou, L. Social Movements and Cultural Change: The First Abolition Campaign Revisited. New York: Aldine De Gruyter, 1996.