2016-06-30
African American Religious History: A Documentary Witness (second edition)
edited by Milton C. Sernett
Duke University Press, 595 pages

Readers who remember the first edition of "Afro-American Religious History" (1985) will wonder how Milton Sernett, Professor of African-American Studies at Syracuse University, could improve upon its rich assortment of documents, which took readers from slavery to the civil rights movement. But improved it he has: the new edition includes more writing by and about women, as well as new material on African missions and on Christians' response to the Great Migration, the World War I era exodus of thousands of African-Americans from the rural South to Northern cities.

Especially delightful is the letter from an unnamed black woman in Chicago writing to her sister back home about the huge revival she has just attended. Readers bored with the usual stories of the black church will enjoy the section on "Twentieth-Century Religious Alternatives," where Sernett offers glimpses of black Jews, the followers of Father Divine, and members of "black-led cults and sects." This update of an already essential read will be a necessary addition to the library of those interested in American religion.



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