[Few] men ever worshipped freedom with half such unquestioning faith as did the American Negro for two centuries. […] Emancipation was the key to the promised land of sweeter beauty than ever stretched before the eyes of wearied Israelites. –W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk
The things evidently borrowed from the surrounding world undergo characteristic change when they enter the mouth of the slave. Especially is this true of Bible phrases. […] the wheels of Ezekiel are turned every way in the mystic dreaming of the slave, till he says: “There’s a little wheel a-turnin’ in-a-my heart. […] Through all the sorrow of the Sorrow Songs there breathes a hope—a faith in the ultimate justice of things. The minor cadences of despair change often to triumph and calm confidence.–W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk
W.E.B. DuBois was one of the Negro American intellectuals to articulate the religious and social life of the descendants of enslaved Africans in the early 20th century. Along with The Souls of Black Folk, he also published a study entitled, The Negro Church, as well as many essays dealing with race, and was the lone African-American founder of the NAACP.
For a summary of Du Bois’s religious thought, see Celucien Joseph’s 5 part series:
- How do we teach black history in the future? (thegrio.com)