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The Burden of Black Religion$
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Curtis J. Evans

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195328189

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195328189.001.0001

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 The Drama of Black Life

 The Drama of Black Life

(p.177) 5 The Drama of Black Life
The Burden of Black Religion

Curtis J. Evans (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Debates about instrumentalism or using the black churches as instruments of social and political reform deepened even as black leaders began emphasizing the drama of black life and religion. Drama was turned to because of high hopes that black contributions in the realm of arts, literature, and cultural achievements would help address racial problems in a way that a social scientific approach could not. An aesthetic appreciation of black religion and an emphasis on dramatizing black life proceeded apace even as black leaders continued to engage in scathing critiques of actual black churches in the North and South. The Great Migration heightened expectations and fears about how black churches could more authentically represent what were seen as the unique cultural contributions of blacks to American society. In the end, drama did not substantially solve the problem of contintuing traditional and stereotypical images of black culture, especially in the realm of religion.

Keywords:   instrumentalism, black churches, social reform, drama, arts, literature, cultural achievements, black religion, Great Migration, stereotypical images

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