Akilah Beasley

College Composition 106 WISE

February 21, 2010

Prospectus for

Slavery and Christianity: How Has the Conditions of slavery influenced Negros to Become and Continue to be Christians?

            Christianity was used as a mechanism to condition captured Africans who worked as slaves. Slaves were told that they would be saved by God if they obeyed their masters; if they continued to have faith, then one day they would be saved by the grace of God and permitted in to the pearly gates of heaven. Although this notion was used to brainwash the slaves, it gave the slaves the comfort they needed to survive the harsh conditions of slavery. Many slaves espoused this way of thinking; they often fantasized about the utopia that they would live in once they entered the pearly gates. Was this sense of comfort gilded, or was it really pure? Many people argue this point—this paper is going to outline all of the reasons why this sense of comfort is pure for those captured, worked, and freed slaves. The narrative of Annie L. Burton, Memories of Childhood’s Slavery will be the base of the researcher’s argument; it will be based off of her own personal religious conversion. The following book and journal sources will be used to prove the researcher’s point.


Carhahan, Burras M. Act of Justice: Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2007.

This source is going to pinpoint the reasons as well as the process in which it took to free the slaves. This is a pivotal moment in the history of slavery; maybe this day is a result of their faith in Jesus Christ. Carhahan’s text will help evaluate the conditions and religious customs of the newly freed African slaves. The researcher will also receive further insight on what it was like for freed slaves to finally get their independence and build new lives for themselves.

Andrews, William L. Six Women Slave Narratives. New York: Oxford University Press 1988.

This source is going to help the researcher analyze stories that are similar to Annie Burton’s story. They are many other slave narratives that highlight a religious conversion—those narratives are present in this book. This source will help evaluate the reasons for this type of conversion and compare them to each other. The researcher hopes to receive more information on the spiritual and emotional aspects of the religious conversion.

King, Wilma. The Stolen Childhood: Slave Youth in the 19th Century America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.

This source deals with slave life for the youth. The source highlights the impact that Christianity has had on the slaves from a child’s perspective. It also highlights the struggles of being a child slave and shows how religion was used as a way to comfort them.

Wilkie, Jane Riblett. “Urbanization and De-Urbanization of the Black Population before the Civil War.” Demography Vol. 13, No. 3 (1976): 311-328.

This source will help the researcher understand how living conditions were for the slaves before the Civil War. This source will give the paper more historical content which is important in explaining the time period and the conditions that the slaves faced. It will also highlight the transition from being a slave to a newly freed person who has to build an independent life as well as the mechanisms these newly freed slaves used for spiritual comfort.

Schwartz, Barry. “Collective Memory and History: How Abraham Lincoln Became a Symbol of Racial Equality.” The Sociological Quarterly Vol. 38, No. 3 (1997): 469-496.

This source displays historical background though out the paper and it will highlight the importance of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. It will also list the effects that it had on the world surrounding the newly freed slaves. This source will also explain the economical, social, and racial aspects of the time period.

Schiele, Jerome H.“Cultural Oppression and the High-Risk Status of African-Americans.”Journal of Black Studies Vol.35, No.6 (2005): 802-826.

This source explains the ways that slaves were oppressed, not only but the conditions of slavery but by certain laws that were pasted that were created to keep African-Americans beneath the rest of society. This source further displays how African-Americans were able to prosper against all odds. It is safe to say that their faith in God helped them to survive in the face of opposition.

Washington, Booker T. Religious Life of the Negro. Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia Library, 1995.

This source provides insight on how a very profound African-American scholar felt about the religious aspects of the African-American lifestyle. Booker T. Washington was a former slave like Annie L. Burton, they both remember slavery and Christianity from a similar perspective. This source will provide similar views from a different angle.

Johnson, Paul E. African-American Christianity: Essays in History. Berkeley University of California Press, 1994.

This source gives many different viewpoints of how Christianity has impacted the African-American race. There are many different outlooks of this aspect to digest; some say that religion was used to brain wash slaves others thought that slaves benefitted from it. This may or may not prove to be vital information but it will provide a pivotal moment in the reader’s paper; it would be food for thought either way. I would use it as a way to explain how religion was beneficial to the slaves—they even held on to this religion once slavery ended.

Burton, Annie L. Memories of Childhood’s Slavery Days. Boston: Ross Publishing Company, 1909.

This source provides the base of the research question. The research question will focus heavily on the religious conversion that took place in Burton’s life as well as the historic background that may have influenced the importance of this conversion. This narrative will be compared to other stories that are similar to it. This source will help find the answer—how has the conditions of slavery influenced the vast religious conversion to Christianity amongst Negros.

Campbell, A. The Christian Hymn Book. Cincinnati: H.S. Bosworth, 1866.

            This source is filled with hymns that Christians sing in their church services. Many of the lyrics in these hymns were sung by the slaves when they needed comfort as they worked diligently on the plantations. Many of these songs highlight their views of heaven and of God. This book highlights how important religion was to the slaves by studying the lyrics.