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After Redemption: Jim Crow and the Transformation of African American Religion in the Delta, 1875-1915

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Overview

After Redemption fills in a missing chapter in the history of African American life after freedom. It takes on the widely overlooked period between the end of Reconstruction and World War I to examine the sacred world of ex-slaves and their descendants living in the region more densely settled than any other by blacks living in this era, the Mississippi and Arkansas Delta. Drawing on a rich range of local memoirs, newspaper accounts, photographs, early blues music, and recently unearthed Works Project Administration records, John Giggie challenges the conventional view that this era marked the low point in the modern evolution of African-American religion and culture. Set against a backdrop of escalating racial violence in a region more densely populated by African Americans than any other at the time, he illuminates how blacks adapted to the defining features of the post-Reconstruction South— including the growth of segregation, train travel, consumer capitalism, and fraternal orders—and in the process dramatically altered their spiritual ideas and institutions. Masterfully analyzing these disparate elements, Giggie's study situates the African-American experience in the broadest context of southern, religious, and American history and sheds new light on the complexity of black religion and its role in confronting Jim Crow.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A significant contribution to understanding the post-Civil War black community. Highly recommended."—T.F. Armstrong, CHOICE

"An impressive work of historical imagination."—Douglas Carl Abrams, The Journal of American History

"An intriguing interpretation.... After Redemption demostrates that black religion was not an unchanging monolith and that this era was vital for it shistorical development."—Christopher H. Owen, Arkansas Historical Quarterly

"John Giggie's After Redemption describes tragedy, resolve, and transformation among African Americans who, a century ago, defined their region, faith, and America simultaneously. Deeply researched and engagingly written, Giggie's portrait of the Delta provides a haunting portrait of possibilities lost amidst bigotry and hate and recovered through human bravery and amazing spiritual fortitude."—Jon Butler, Yale University

"John Giggie does a masterful job in shedding new light on the meaning and practice of religion among a people whose divine and supernatural visions combined to create a religious conviction that derived more from historical and contemporary experience than formal doctrine. He is especially adept in making spiritual connections between religion and the blues and in showing how an evolving, adaptive religious faith allowed Delta blacks to construct a world they could not always control but could always claim as their own."—James C. Cobb, author of Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity

"In lucid prose, Giggie sets forth a compelling case for a re-periodization of African American religious history."—Paul Harvey, author of Freedom's Coming: Religious Cultures and the Shaping of the South from the Civil War through the Civil Rights Era

"After Redemption offers a useful window into the diverse ways African Americans conceived of religion during the Jim Crow era. Giggie skillfully balances the methods that African Americans utilized within religion to renegotiate the terms of freedom, given the harsh realities of mob violence, segregation, and disenfranchisement. ...Giggie helps to define more broadly several aspects of African American religious life for this period." —Journal of African American History


"After Redemption is that volume that will shape the field for years to come. It stands alongside other groundbreaking works of southern religious history...that have made historians and religious studies scholars reevaluate the past." —Journal of Southern History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195304046
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/21/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

John M. Giggie is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Alabama. He is the co-editor of Faith in the Market: Religion and the Rise of Urban Commercial Culture.

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Table of Contents


Abbreviations     xiii
Prologue: Life and Death in the Delta     xv
Introduction: African American Religion in the Age of Segregation in the Delta     3
Train Travel and the Black: Religious Imagination     23
Fraternal Orders, Disfranchisement, and the Institutional Growth of Black Religion     59
The Intersecting Rhythms of Spiritual and Commercial Life     96
The Material Culture of Religion     137
The Making of the African American Holiness Movement     165
Epilogue: Delta Journeys     194
Notes     201
Selected Bibliography     253
Index     299
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