The Christianity of enslaved and free African Americans in the years immediately following the first Great Awakening through the end of the Civil War (roughly 1750-1850) evidences a complex cultural fusion and a complicated theological depth. There were many different aspects of the religious and spiritual practices of these African American Christians, including preaching, baptism, ecstatic spiritual experiences, evangelism, violent and non-violent forms of resistance to slavery, and, possibly the most prevalent of all, music and singing. The hundreds of thousands of African people unwillingly brought to America brought with them their African heritage, but the survival of their African cultural roots was severely tested in their new home. The majority of African people trafficked to America came from West African regions, and West African religion contained certain generalized characteristics that made it especially adaptable to Christian conversion. The greatest role of the White Christian context of the time was suppressing as far as possible the evangelization and discipleship of the African American people, apart from some brave missionaries, pastors, and circuit riders who desired to see the Black people evangelized and instructed in the faith. Early African American Christianity consisted of the founding of a few African American-led churches, an emphasis on conversion and baptism, meeting together in public or secretly, prayer and preaching, local and more widespread evangelism efforts, a reverence for the Bible and promotion of education, and passionate dancing and singing.

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