The Influence Of Black Slave Culture On Early America

986 words - 4 pages

The Black slaves of colonial America brought their own culture from Africa tothe new land. Despite their persecution, the "slave culture" has contributedgreatly to the development of America's own music, dance, art, and clothing.MusicIt is understandable that when Africans were torn from their homes and families,lashed into submission , and forced into lifelong slave labor, they would be, onthe most part, resentful and angry. Various forms of expression, clandestineyet lucent, developed out of these feelings. One such form was music. NativeAfrican music consisted mainly of wind and string melodies punctuated by handclapping, xylophones, and drum beats. Along those lines, an early type ofslave music was the spiritual, which has its roots in Protestant hymns taught tothe slaves. Spirituals were "long thought to be the spontaneous creation ofAfrican-American slaves and the only original folk music of the U.S."Spirituals told tales of suffering and struggle, but these true meanings wereoften hidden. An example is in the song "Gospel Train" with the lyrics, "Get onboard, little children/There's room for many a-more/The gospel train's a-leavin'..." The "gospel train" of the song likely represented an escape method, suchas the Underground Railroad. Another type of music distinct to African slaveswas gospel. These songs originated in plantation fields as work songs, and werelater sung in churches of Black congregations. They were intended to enliven acrowd, and employed bright music and joyful lyrics. Gospel music contributed tothe development of musical genres historically considered "white", such as rock'n'roll and country and western.ReligionBefore Blacks came to America, they had their own highly developedreligious beliefs. Most cultures believed in one almighty God, and the ideas ofgood and evil. They also practiced "ancestor worship", believing that deadfamily members could influence aspects of their lives. A main differencebetween African and Christian religions, however, is that Africans did not findit necessary to convert all other cultures to their religion. Thus Africanswere rather resistant to the preaching of Christian ministers when they came toAmerica. The Christian ideas they did absorb, however, were indoctrinated intotheir lives with the addition of culture such as gospel music (see Music).Later, a minister of mainly of African-American congregations would usedistinctly "Black" preaching methods, as when "he begins to employ numerousstock phrases and ideas," and, "Midway in the message the preacher begins tochant his words rhythmically."Art17th-century Africans had art forms that would be considered advancedeven today. Most of their expression was religious in nature. But when theywere brought to the New World, "?slaves] could not do this because Protestantshad always frowned upon religious imagery in the church as being worldly. Thus,there was little opportunity for the slave to express his creativity in graphicand plastic art for the...

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