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2013 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III

Faith, Not Color

“Faith, Not Color,” explores the published historical literature surrounding African Americans and Christianity between 1900 and 1921. This paper examines articles from three different types of journals: those with a primarily religious focus, those focused on African American history and those focused on the general history of the United States of America. JSTOR houses the articles cited in this paper, making them easily available examples of early-20th century literature on this under-examined topic. The authors, of Caucasian and African American descent, vary in their specific denominational affiliation, but not in their Christian beliefs. Because of the time period under investigation, most of the Christian denominations under discussion fall into Protestant and Evangelical families, while Catholicism appears infrequently. In this exploration, a striking relationship emerges in the literature. Wilson-era racism does not tinge this literature to any large degree. Instead, this paper argues that the discussions of African Americans varied primarily as a function of religious affiliation rather than their skin color. This topic offers a window into the academic perspective on race and religion in the early 20th century, and offers another window into the period's beliefs about African American inferiority. While religion constituted the criteria for determining African American inferiority, the articles still cast African Americans as generally inferior and used typical descriptors when discussing African Americans of either the wrong Christian denomination or of non-Christian faith.

Presenter: Ann Stachowski (SUNY Brockport) --
Topic: History I - Panel
Location: 214 Hartwell
Time: 11:15 am (Session II)