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Exodus and LiberationDeliverance Politics from John Calvin to Martin Luther King Jr.$
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John Coffey

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199334223

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199334223.001.0001

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“When Israel Was in Egyptland”

“When Israel Was in Egyptland”

Black Exodus Politics, 1808–1865

(p.145) 5 “When Israel Was in Egyptland”
Exodus and Liberation

John Coffey

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the “discursive crossovers” that occurred as African Americans adopted and adapted the tradition of Protestant deliverance politics for their own ends. The black identification with the children of Israel was peculiarly intense, enabling African Americans to forge a scriptural identity and question the biblically constructed identity of the United States. The Exodus story was used to justify and frame armed resistance, flight, and migration. While it appealed to black intellectuals like Frederick Douglass, it also sank deep roots in popular culture, expressed in the spirituals. When it finally came, emancipation was celebrated as a providential deliverance, a new Exodus, though many recognized that the trek to the Promised Land had only begun.

Keywords:   African Americans, race, slave revolts, migration, spirituals, emancipation

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