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God of the Blacks: David Walker on Theology and Resistance to Slavery

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Abstract:

This presentation focuses on the role of an activist theology in the resistance to the enslavement of Africans in the Americas, as advocated by David Walker in his “The Necessity Of A General Union Among Us” (1828) and Appeal To The Coloured Citizens Of The World (1829-1830). My research delineates the component parts of Walker’s perspective on the multifaceted importance of religion in the struggle for the abolition of slavery. For Walker resistance and religion were inseparable entities in a process that would lead to mental, physical and, spiritual redemption. He was an advocate for the human rights of Africans everywhere. He wanted everything that was being withheld and by whatever means necessary. The searing appeal quality in Walker’s writing calls for “The Coloured Citizens of the World” to assert their humanity, consciously resist the dehumanizing wickedness of slavery, and understand that “their” God sanctions such actions. Crucial to his perspective is the necessity of an informed combating of the racist labeling of Blacks as pagan subhuman mental inferiors, made by “God” to be slaves.

The freedom-seeking advocacy of Walker’s ideas is fully loaded with comparatives. He compares brands of Christianity: that practiced by slaveholders and their advocates with that of antislavery whites. Both of theirs is compared with the Christianity embraced and espoused by activist Blacks, whose churches typically bore the name “African.” He compares the slavery of the ancient world (Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Arab) with that of 19th century Euro-America. As well, Walker offers a comparative analysis on the human nature of Black and White people. He also compares 19th English century attitudes on slavery and the humanity of Blacks with those of America. The ideas and the literary techniques of David Walker (the first “militant” African American writer) are all the more important because of his prophetic voicing of
the shape of resistance to come in the 19th century fight against slavery, the coming Civil War, and in Black freedom struggles from his era onward.
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Association:
Name: Association for the Study of African American Life and History
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http://www.asalh.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p207534_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Peters, Melvin. "God of the Blacks: David Walker on Theology and Resistance to Slavery" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Atlanta Hilton, Charlotte, NC, <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p207534_index.html>

APA Citation:

Peters, M. T. "God of the Blacks: David Walker on Theology and Resistance to Slavery" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Atlanta Hilton, Charlotte, NC <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p207534_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: This presentation focuses on the role of an activist theology in the resistance to the enslavement of Africans in the Americas, as advocated by David Walker in his “The Necessity Of A General Union Among Us” (1828) and Appeal To The Coloured Citizens Of The World (1829-1830). My research delineates the component parts of Walker’s perspective on the multifaceted importance of religion in the struggle for the abolition of slavery. For Walker resistance and religion were inseparable entities in a process that would lead to mental, physical and, spiritual redemption. He was an advocate for the human rights of Africans everywhere. He wanted everything that was being withheld and by whatever means necessary. The searing appeal quality in Walker’s writing calls for “The Coloured Citizens of the World” to assert their humanity, consciously resist the dehumanizing wickedness of slavery, and understand that “their” God sanctions such actions. Crucial to his perspective is the necessity of an informed combating of the racist labeling of Blacks as pagan subhuman mental inferiors, made by “God” to be slaves.

The freedom-seeking advocacy of Walker’s ideas is fully loaded with comparatives. He compares brands of Christianity: that practiced by slaveholders and their advocates with that of antislavery whites. Both of theirs is compared with the Christianity embraced and espoused by activist Blacks, whose churches typically bore the name “African.” He compares the slavery of the ancient world (Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Arab) with that of 19th century Euro-America. As well, Walker offers a comparative analysis on the human nature of Black and White people. He also compares 19th English century attitudes on slavery and the humanity of Blacks with those of America. The ideas and the literary techniques of David Walker (the first “militant” African American writer) are all the more important because of his prophetic voicing of
the shape of resistance to come in the 19th century fight against slavery, the coming Civil War, and in Black freedom struggles from his era onward.

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