Sparks from the Anvil of Oppression: Philadelphia's African Methodists and Southern Migrants, 1890-1940

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September 1993



While assuming the importance of churches within black communities, social historians generally have not studied them directly or have treated the black denominations as a single unit. Robert Gregg focuses on the African Methodist churches and churchgoers in Philadelphia during the Great Migration and the concurrent rise of black ghettos in the city to show the variety and richness of African American culture at this time. He examines the ways in which the influx of southern migrants affected relations and institutions within black communities, how opportunities for blacks changed within the city, and how increased ghettoization led to social divisions among African Americans. Black religious institutions have been charged with failure to welcome southern migrants and help them adjust to urban life. Citing the work of African Methodist intellectuals and ministers, Gregg describes the philosophy of "uplift" that was preached and practiced in A.M.E. churches, and which attempted to counter exclusiveness among church members. The church and many of its well-established members strove to create community; to provide support and outlets for cultural, economic, political, and religious expression; and to respond to migrants' and members' depressed living and work environments. The diversity within the migrant population and tensions arising from the consolidation of the ghettos, Gregg argues, undermined this philosophy of uplift. Differences in class and regional background thwarted attempts to create a unified black community in the face of racial oppression. African Methodist churches, like other institutions of the ghetto, became sites of struggle for the status and power that could not beattained outside the black community. Gregg contends that examining the migration, the ghettos, and the churches in black Philadelphia separately results in a distortion of all three. By synthesizing the interconnected developments, he reveals a new and less monolithic pic


Maps and Tables Acknowledgments
1. Introduction
Part I: Churches and Ghettos
2. "Drowned by a Torrent of Migration"
3. Evangelism and Social Service
Part II: "In the Pulpit and the Pew"
4. Uplifting "Backward Peoples"
5. "Pulpit Extension"
6. Service and Prestige
7. "Flaming Torches"
Part III: the "Great Migration"
8. Many Promised Lands"
9. The Earnest Pastor's heated Term
10. "Let this Be Your Home"
11. Conclusion Notes Index


"Gregg's work is nicely nuanced, convincingly supported, and attractively presented... His work will undoubtedly be useful to both social and religious historians in advancing their understanding of this pivotal period in American (and African-American) history." --Journal of American History "Building on the tradition of community studies, of E.P. Thompson, Kenneth Kusmer, and Joe William Trotter, Gregg brings an intricacy and sophistication to his analysis that is admirable." --Emma Lapsansky, Haverford College, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography "This is a valuable and insightful study. It challenges very effectively the argument that the established churches didn't help migrants and hence contributed to their 'failure to make good' in the North. The author deserves special praise for his assessment of what the Philadelphia churches actually did do, and the reasons for their failure to attract more of the newcomers. It adds much to our understanding of the nature of the Great Migration." --Julie Winch, History, University of Massachusetts "The hegira of southern blacks during and after World War I is a significant watershed in African American history. Gregg's study helps break new ground by stressing the religious and cultural impact of the exodus, though the weight of his presentation is on how northern religious institutions, specifically the African Methodist churches, responded to the challenge of the arrival of the arrival of the migrants. He has used a wide range of primary sources very effectively. His examination of the records pertaining to Mother Bethel is especially interesting." --Milton Sernett, Department of African American Studies, Syracuse University
EAN: 9781566390637
ISBN: 156639063X
Untertitel: New. Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: September 1993
Seitenanzahl: 272 Seiten
Format: gebunden
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