African American Spirituals

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African American spirituals grew from the experiences of those who were enslaved in the central African countries. When Africans where enslaved and brought back to the New World, they were torn away from their community and their culture. They also had their freedom taken away from them, and they were forbidden from practicing any religion other than Christianity. As they became more and more exposed to the bible, they started to see a parallel that reflected their own experience, for example, Jews and their own captivity in Babylon. The story of David and Goliath also showed them that they could overcome the situation that they were in, and this gave them a salvation for their own hardship.

In the 20th century, spirituals started to gain an audience who appreciated their background and their nationality. Blind Willie Johnson and other fantastic blues artists made spirituals the centre of their songs and their music, not to mention that artists such as Portia White and Marian Anderson have also incorporated spirituals into their own concert programs. Spirituals are also present in many different Aretha Franklin songs, and Sam Cook also integrates them into his own music as well. Just as African Americans expressed the aspiration of being free during the slave era, we too have started to incorporate their message so it lives on through this modern era. Many would say that they were an inspiration to us all, and that they also helped to start the Civil Rights movement as well. This movement continues to express the desires of the oppressed and it also helps voices to be heard, and this is just one example of how the spiritual movement has made an impact on our lives in this day and age and with such a vast history, there is still so much for us to learn.