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Black Culture Midterm Review

African American spirituals-religious songs created by slaves in America
Works Progress Administration (WPA)- New Deal agency that employs unskilled
workers to do public works projects
Sacred sense of time & space- The world was sacred rather than just churches
and other religious buildings. God could come at anytime and anywhere. Thats
partially why spirituals could be sung anytime.
Barracoon- Beginning of African American culture. Different ethnic groups mixed
together. Different sizes and type, on shore or off shore, phase could last for months
as they are waiting for full cargo
Voodoo- Distinct Religion, practiced in LA as early as the 1730s throughout
Mississippi river valley, not fully developed until 19th century, spiritual hierarchy
with the Christian god in the highest position, combined elements of Catholicism
with African religions, differed from standard Catholicism in its many lesser deities
and spirits (Blanc Danie, Papa Lebat, Grand Zombi), draws from Senegambia, Bight
of Benin, and West Central Africa
Culture- A groups way of life. The shared customs, practices, expressions, values,
and practices.
Always changing.
1741 Manhattan slave conspiracy- Part of Black Resistance in New York. Series
of fires throughout NY. Suspects were brought in.
Denmark Vesey- Used hoodoo to resist slavery
1712 Revolt- 25 blacks start fires, spread through city, killed 9 whites, all
convicted, could see culture through testimonies
Minkisi- sacred medicine used in the Congo
Melville J. Herskovits- White, Jewish Anthropologist that helped to mainstream
connections between black people in the US and Africa. Didnt exactly understand
his place in society being a 2nd generation jew. Went all over Africa studying until
making connections between movement and other pieces of culture. Wrote Myth of
the Negro Past.
Sandy JenkinsConjurer, Douglass v. Covey, People who were Christian were
incorporating the hoodoo practices into their beliefs, Educated people can believe in
hoodoo too, Conjurer /slave relationship
Nat Turner- Virginia Preacher, working in the fields when he got a sign from god
saying he should fight against the serpent being the white man. Took the solar
eclipse as a sign to rebel.
Minstrelsy-Americas first form of popular entertainment, developed in1820s,
black music and black society provided basis for the troupes, featured white

performer in black face derived from African American song and portraying African
Americans in mocking and degrading manner.
Illness narratives- Stories within the black community about a dispute or
problem resulting in someone getting sick. Broken into 4 parts: Conflict,
description of illness, search for a conjurer, and cure. Conflict usually about love,
sex, or economic resources.
Gabriel Prosser-Planned uprising but was foiled and hanged. Used hoodoo to
resist slavery
Richard Allen- Founded African Methodist Church in 1794
Bambara- Tribe from Senegambia, Patrilineal, reincarnation, Warrior-Cultivator
culture, Believed in one Supreme being (Bemba), Large Numbers enslaved in
General Training-Form of black celebration, Basically militias drilling, June, could
be incorporated in Election day, generally in the north
Hoodoo/Conjuring- The art of Harming, healing, or protecting an individual
through harnessing the spiritual forces. A way to get control in life when they have
so little control. A means of conflict resolution. Created a sense of community
separate from whites. Presence of Native American folk beliefs.
Akan- Tribe from the Gold Coast, Gold and Kola nut trade, numerous linguistic
subgroups, Agriculturally based, matrilineal, one supreme god but appeal to lesser
gods, skilled in weaving and wood carving, belief ancestors owner the land
Middle Passage- Middle leg of the triangular trade where slaves are taken to
America. 10 million Africans survived, 5% went to North America. Men were
separated from women and children, below deck. Women abused sexually. Ethnic
groups were separated, so they couldnt up rise and band together. Fed minimal
diets. Malnutrition. Unsanitary and tight packing. Voyage lasted up to 6 months
Igbo- Tribe from Bight of Biafra, associated with suicide, mostly patrilineal,
extended family, woman marriage, relative freedom to women
Senegambia- Region of Africa, accounted for 14.5% of slave trade to N. America
Seasoning Phase- Period of adjustment for Africans to their new life in America
Gold Coast- Region of Africa. Accounted for 13.1% of Slave trade to N. America
Olaudah Equiano- Born to Igbo tribe in 1745. Bought freedom in 1766. Aka
Gustavus Vassa. First slave to write autobiography. Prominent in movement to
abolish slave trade.
Ring shout- "Shouting" often took place during or after a Christian prayer meeting
or worship service. Men and women moved in a circle in a counterclockwise
direction, shuffling their feet, clapping, and often spontaneously singing or praying

West Central Africa- Region of Africa. Largest in slave trade. 26% went to N.
Negro Election Day- Black Community selects a king or governor. Usually directly
from African descent. Has a well-respected master.
Pinkster- Black celebration, occurred in NY and NJ, Emerged from Pentecost,
Important because they are taking a celebration and making it theirs
Antiphony-Element of Black Music. Basically Call and Response.
Sierra Leone-Region of Africa, accounted for 15.8% of slave trade
African Burial Ground- Burial Ground in Manhattan. Sankofa Symbol debate. Able
to find about about some African culture and Anglo-American.
White Derivation School- School of thought that Black spirituals were derived
from white spirituals. Easy to think that because both studied same bible and
worshipped together at times.
Bight of Benin- Region of Africa that was prominent in slave trade
Slave narrative- Large piece of African American popular literature. Slaves either
writing or dictating story of their enslavement and journey to America. Fred
Douglass, harriet Jacobs, William wells brown.
Work songs- Songs performed by blacks while working.
Bight of Biafra- Region of Africa. Accounted for 24.4% of slave trade.
Geneva Club- black club in NY, resisted slavery
woman marriage-Practiced by the igbo. Woman can pay dowry for woman and can
have her kids.
Hush harbors- Places where slaves gathered to practice religion in secret. Behind
the masters back, after dark.
Sorrow songs
Pervasive functionality-Element of African music brought over. The music is
functional in all aspects of their lives.
Improvisational communal consciousness
Great Awakening- One of the three periods of conversion to Christianity. Religious
Revival. Itinerant preachers and widespread camp meeting. Idea that those who felt
god inside them would be saved.
Dance/Bodily Movement- element of African music brought over to America.
Intimate connection between music and dance.
James Hewlett-Actor with African Grove,

Slave funeral/homegong- One of the three mechanisms for Christianity. Funeral

practice. Connected to transmigration, seen as the slave being free and in a better
place. All black people in area would attend which is like the African idea of
Water baptism-Rebirth or a new life for slaves, reminds them of Soul Transmigration.
William Brown- Head/Founded African Grove.
Group Nature- Element of African music brought over to America. Very much a
community thing, everyone involved. Voices coming together.
Staging European- Common feature of the African Grove, Black actors portraying
whiteness through white character. Sometimes could be seen as a role reversal for
blacks, able to satirize whites. Allowed them to do things not intended for blacks.
Shakespeare seen as for all, rather than just whites. Would change lines in major
play to make them more black, and comment on blacks place in society.
Historical/non-fictional tale- One type of folk tales that was common among blacks.
True stories usually about slavery, middle passage, and life back in Africa.
Improvisational character- Common aspect of African music that they brought over
in their spirituals. Would sort of wing it when singing and recreate songs as they
African Grove- Theater of William Brown in NY.
Brer Rabbit- usually the main character to Trickster tales. Overcame brer fox and
other more powerful animals through wit.
Parting Ways- Black Village in Plymouth, MA. Plato Turner, Quamony Quash, Cato
Howe, Prince Goodwin. Village structure similar to those in West Central Africa,
Houses would be setup in the middle of a tract of land. Won freedom in war. Used
African naming practices. Decorated graves with decorative glass.
Shotaway-Original piece performed by African Grove about Black caribs uprising
against British Navy
S. Welsh- Female Actress in African Grove. Would portray white men and women.
Played Lady Ann but showed her differently than Shakespeare. Showed varying
dimensions of a black women, not necessarily a tragic character.
Moral/didactic tale- teach a lesson, important as education to the children, not
working on the Sabbath, keeping promises, not talking too much, obeying parents,
how to survive
Trickster tale- weaker animal overcoming more powerful animal through wit and
smarts, instilling hope in the younger generations to overcome, trickster was both
hero and villain, animal tales could cover up stronger, harsher messages
Creation legend- how people and races came to be, Christian influenced, either
blacks are original and whites are degenerates or vice versa

1. Discuss and describe the roots of African American culture in West African
culture paying attention to the contributions of specific ethnic groups.
a. Akan, Igbo, Bambara.
2. Describe the transition of African ethnic groups into the development of an
African American community. When can we say that there is something we
can call African American? What factors contribute to this development? Are
there regional differences?
a. Transition started in the Baracoon. Mixing together of different culture
from Africa.
b. Factors include: Religion, Language, Masters philosophy, type of work,
c. There are regional differences. North v. South
3. Discuss the ways in which African American cultural practices reflect
attempts by the enslaved to resist the control of their masters and the
devastating effects of the institution of slavery. In what similar ways did free
African Americans cultural practices reflect an attempt to resist white
control?- Larger Idea of Community!
a. Hoodoo- Fredrick Douglass would go to conjurers and get special items
to avoid getting beaten-Nat Turner, Gullah Jack, Gabriel ProsserConjurers who use their power to organize followings of slaves for
rebellions- Gave control when they so little
b. Black Resistance in NY- Revolt of 1712, Blood Oaths-1741 slave
conspiracy, ring ceremonies- secretly gather, stand in a ring, pour
c. Familiarity through religion helped overcome strange circumstances.
Gave them faith and comfort. Aunt Rebecca-gaining social power and
allowed to challenge societies racist and misogynistic ideals. Ring
shout, water baptism, slave funerals
d. Songs
4. Describe the process by which an African American culture was created.a. Larger Idea- When forced to live with different people, ideologies and
practices will mix together over time. Culture is something that is
always changing.
b. First began when mixed in the Baracoon=African Ethnicities mixing
c. Continued on Respective plantations. Anglo American Culture begins to
d. Masters/Whites do not necessarily force culture upon them. Blacks
accept and make it their own. Africanize
i. Religion
5. Compare and contrast African American culture in the North and South.
a. North-Closer relationship with owners, knew English, Urban Culture,
Small slave holdings, smaller population in the North, Urban Jobshipbuilding, iron workers, distilling industry
b. South- Large Plantations, Larger numbers of slaves, Farming in both
but different crops,