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Posted on May 19th, 2012, by

African American spirituals comprise an integral part of the African American culture. At the same time, African American spirituals represent a blend of Christian traditions and beliefs and traditional African beliefs and rituals as well as secrete expectations of African Americans who hoped for a better life in the US. African American spirituals were particularly popular in the 1920s 1930s and they emerged as antecedent to blues. Christian themes were central for African American spirituals. However, often they contained double meanings, where religious themes were closely intertwined with the struggle of African Americans against their oppression by the whites. For instance, many African American spirituals imply the liberation, which is traditionally perceived as a spiritual liberation and unity of Christians with God. In case of African American spirituals such liberation also implied the consistent change and shift from the status of oppressed minority to the devoted followers of Christian religion, who can count for God’s blessing and improvement of their life. In such a way, being Christian by their nature, African American spirituals often revealed problems African Americans faced in the regular life and, what is even more important, they mirrored the expectations of African Americans for the change of their position in the US society. African American spirituals became an integral of African American culture and they were quite different from traditional Christian spirituals. In such a way, African Americans used spirituals to develop their own culture and shape their common cultural identity based on the universal, Christian principles. In a way, African American spirituals laid the foundation to the growth of social consciousness of African Americans.

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