"Face Zion Forward": First Writers of the Black Atlantic, 1785-1798

Overview

At the close of the Revolutionary War, more than 3,000 black Loyalists, many liberated from slavery by enlisting in the British army, made exodus in 1783 from New York to Nova Scotia in search of land and freedom. Almost half of the emigrants settled an independent black community at Birchtown, Nova Scotia, where, despite extraordinarily harsh conditions, they established their own churches and schools, and cultivated a shared sense of themselves as a chosen people. A majority of the population emigrated once ...

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Overview

At the close of the Revolutionary War, more than 3,000 black Loyalists, many liberated from slavery by enlisting in the British army, made exodus in 1783 from New York to Nova Scotia in search of land and freedom. Almost half of the emigrants settled an independent black community at Birchtown, Nova Scotia, where, despite extraordinarily harsh conditions, they established their own churches and schools, and cultivated a shared sense of themselves as a chosen people. A majority of the population emigrated once again in 1791, this time setting sail for Sierra Leone to fulfill what they perceived to be their prophetic destiny. This circuit of gathering, exodus, and diaspora was grounded in a unique black Atlantic theology focused on redemption and Zion that was conceptualized and shaped by the charismatic black evangelists of diverse Protestant faiths who converged in the Nova Scotia settlements.

"Face Zion Forward" now brings together the remarkable writings of these early authors of the black Atlantic. This collection of memoirs, sermons, and speeches, many of which are based on the Birchtown experience, documents how John Marrant, David George, Boston King, and Prince Hall envisioned the role of Africa and African American communities in black liberation. The volume demonstrates that these men were both collaborators and contestants in the construction of modern post-slavery black identities, and shows how the frameworks of Christian theology and Freemasonry influenced ideas about emancipation and communal independence. The centerpiece of the work is The Journal of John Marrant, published here in its entirety for the first time since 1790. Marrant's missionary diary not only illuminates the intricacies of eighteenth-century African American Christianity, but also presents a richly detailed account of everyday life in Birchtown.

"Face Zion Forward" provides an informed reconstruction of the major ideological and theological conversations that occurred among North American blacks after the American Revolution and illustrates the disparate and complex underpinnings of the modern black Atlantic. In addition, the work presents invaluable insights into African American literary traditions and the development of Ethiopianist and black nationalist discourses.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555535391
  • Publisher: Northeastern University Press
  • Publication date: 10/17/2002
  • Series: Northeastern Library of Black Literature
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Joanna Brooks is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin. John Saillant is Associate Professor of English and History at Western Michigan University. Richard Yarborough editor of the Northeastern Library of Black Literature, is Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
A Note on the Texts
JOHN MARRANT
A Narrative of the Lord’s wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, a Black, (Now Going to Preach the Gospel in Nova-Scotia) Born in New-York, in North- America. Taken Down from His Own Relation, Arranged, Corrected, and Published by the Rev. Mr. Aldridge. The Fourth Edition, Enlarged by Mr. Marrant, and Printed (with Permission) for His Sole Benefit, with Notes Explanatory (1785)
JOHN MARRANT
A Sermon Preached on the 24th Day of June 1789, Being the Festival of St. John the Baptist, at the Request of the Right Worshipful the Grand Master Prince Hall, and the Rest of the Brethren of the African Lodge of the Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons in Boston (1789)
JOHN MARRANT
A Journal of the Rev. John Marrant, from August the 18th, 1785, to the 16th of March, 1790 (1790)
JOHN MARRANT
A Funeral Sermon Preached by the Desire of the Deceased, John Lock; The Text Chosen by Himself, from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians, Chap. i., Ver. 21. And Was Preached According to Promise, before His Father and Mother, Brothers and Sisters, and All the Inhabitants round the Neighbouring Village, By the Rev. John Marrant (1790)
DAVID GEORGE
An Account of the Life of Mr. David George, from Sierra Leone in Africa; Given by Himself in a Conversation with Brother Rippon of London, and Brother Pearce of Birmingham (1793)
PRINCE HALL
A Charge Delivered to the Brethren of the African Lodge on the 25th of June, 1792. At the Hall of Brother William Smith, in Charlestown. By the Right Worshipful Master Prince Hall (1792)
PRINCE HALL
A Charge, Delivered to the African Lodge, June 24, 1797, at Menotomy. By the Right Worshipful Prince Hall (1797)
BOSTON KING
Memoirs of the Life of Boston King, a Black Preacher. Written by Himself, during His Residence at Kingswood-School (1798)
Notes

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