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After RedemptionJim Crow and the Transformation of African American Religion in the Delta, 1875-1915$
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John M. Giggie

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195304039

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304039.001.0001

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Train Travel and the Black Religious Imagination

Train Travel and the Black Religious Imagination

Chapter:
(p.23) 1 Train Travel and the Black Religious Imagination
Source:
After Redemption
Author(s):

John M. Giggie (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304039.003.0002

This chapter studies how Delta blacks confronted the rapid growth of the railroad as the one of the most important and visible engines of economic progress and racial segregation in the region. It shows how they integrated the sensory experience of traveling by rail into their spiritual lives and created new words, visions, songs, blues lyrics, and sermons based upon it; converted forsaken depots into houses of worship and waiting platforms into revival stages; and took advantage of train travel to organize regional gatherings of individual churches and spread news and gossip about leaders and movements. By popularizing railroad travel as a metaphor for African American freedom, Delta blacks eventually refigured its popular symbolism as a vehicle of racial restriction.

Keywords:   African Americans, Delta, religion, trains, railroad, segregation, blues

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