Project Title

Black Women’s Use of Christian Rhetoric from 1851 to 1916

Presentation Author(s) Information

Kayla Goode, Georgia College & State UniversityFollow

Faculty Mentor(s) Name(s)

Dr. Sidonia Serafini

Abstract

Throughout the racial uplift movement, African American women used a plethora of persuasion tactics to articulate their claims to their respective audiences. Of these tactics, the use of religious language was widely used by African American Women writers—including speakers, novelists, poets, and essayists. There were many benefits to discussing Christianity in advocating for racial justice. Doing so was used to defy assertions of scientific racism and biological determinism, both of which were connected to Christian beliefs of the time. These writers wrote of the empathy religion encourages and the illogic claims of racial superiority. Using this duality, writers repurposed religion for their own ends. Women writers used Christian ideals and references to encourage their audience to align their viewpoints with a positive regard of women’s and African American rights, and a negative regard of lynchings, racism, and women’s inequality. Learning from the successes of African American women in past publications can help us advocate for equity in the present and future. Using the Digital Humanities tool, Timeline JS from KnightLab, I created an interactive visual timeline that explores the use of Christian rhetoric by African American women writers and context of their lives, from the years 1851 to 1916. I chose a digital timeline format to reach a wider audience who may not have the same accesses I do as a student—I hope to eventually disseminate this timeline in order to achieve that. This timeline specifically gives a visual representation of publication dates and birth and death dates that a traditional essay does not. Rather than a lengthier essay, there are word constraints on a timeline—forcing every word to be intentional for its readability and conciseness.

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Black Women’s Use of Christian Rhetoric from 1851 to 1916

Throughout the racial uplift movement, African American women used a plethora of persuasion tactics to articulate their claims to their respective audiences. Of these tactics, the use of religious language was widely used by African American Women writers—including speakers, novelists, poets, and essayists. There were many benefits to discussing Christianity in advocating for racial justice. Doing so was used to defy assertions of scientific racism and biological determinism, both of which were connected to Christian beliefs of the time. These writers wrote of the empathy religion encourages and the illogic claims of racial superiority. Using this duality, writers repurposed religion for their own ends. Women writers used Christian ideals and references to encourage their audience to align their viewpoints with a positive regard of women’s and African American rights, and a negative regard of lynchings, racism, and women’s inequality. Learning from the successes of African American women in past publications can help us advocate for equity in the present and future. Using the Digital Humanities tool, Timeline JS from KnightLab, I created an interactive visual timeline that explores the use of Christian rhetoric by African American women writers and context of their lives, from the years 1851 to 1916. I chose a digital timeline format to reach a wider audience who may not have the same accesses I do as a student—I hope to eventually disseminate this timeline in order to achieve that. This timeline specifically gives a visual representation of publication dates and birth and death dates that a traditional essay does not. Rather than a lengthier essay, there are word constraints on a timeline—forcing every word to be intentional for its readability and conciseness.