The Great Migration was the most significant event in black life
since emancipation and Reconstruction. Passionately Human, No
Less Divine analyzes the various ways black southerners
transformed African American religion in Chicago during their Great
Migration northward. A work of religious, urban, and social
history, it is the first book-length analysis of the new religious
practices and traditions in Chicago that were stimulated by
migration and urbanization.
The book illustrates how the migration launched a new sacred
order among blacks in the city that reflected aspects of both
Southern black religion and modern city life. This new sacred order
was also largely female as African American women constituted more
than 70 percent of the membership in most black Protestant
Ultimately, Wallace Best demonstrates how black southerners
imparted a folk religious sensibility to Chicago's black churches.
In doing so, they ironically recast conceptions of modern, urban
African American religion in terms that signified the rural past.
In the same way that working class cultural idioms such as jazz and
the blues emerged in the secular arena as a means to represent
black modernity, he says, African American religion in Chicago,
with its negotiation between the past, the present, rural and
urban, revealed African American religion in modern form.
Subjects: Religion, Sociology, History
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