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Article

Richard Newman

George Alexander McGuire (1866–1934) was an Antiguan ordained in the Episcopal Church in the United States who responded enthusiastically to the Black Nationalism of Marcus Garvey. McGuire envisioned an autonomous black church in the Episcopal tradition as a dimension of the Garvey Movement, much as the Anglican Church served as an international aspect of the British Empire. In 1921 he founded the African Orthodox Church (AOC) in New York. It attracted primarily West Indians sympathetic to Anglicanism, but also some Episcopalians and Roman Catholics who saw little future for blacks in American churches.

Garvey himself never joined the AOC, and in fact warned against both religious divisiveness and competing loyalties to his Universal Negro Improvement Association McGuire vigorously promoted a racially identified faith creating nationalist liturgies and calling for the image of a black Christ Unable to secure consecration to the bishopric from recognized authorities ...

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John Burdick

The worship of Anastacia began in Brazil in the early 1970s The devotion to her centers upon a striking portrait of a young black woman with piercing blue eyes wearing a face iron an iron face mask that slaves were made to wear as a form of punishment Legend has it that Anastacia was tortured with the face iron when she refused to submit to the lust of her master Legend also has it that before she died she forgave her master and cured his child of a fatal disease Although the Catholic Church denounces the devotion to her as superstition at best and heresy at worst millions of Brazilians of all colors are deeply devoted to this woman whom they regard as possessing in death unparalleled supernatural powers Many of her devotees carry a small medallion of her image around their neck others keep a card with her ...

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Mirza Husayn Ali, an Iranian who believed that he was a messenger of God, founded the Baha’i faith in Persia in 1863. After seceding from the Bab sect of Islam, Husayn Ali took the name Baha Ullah. The Islamic government of the Ottoman Empire eventually imprisoned Baha Ullah for blasphemy, and during his time in prison he wrote the principal body of Baha’i scriptures.

Baha’i is centered on social and ethical reform and teaches the unity of humankind. The sexes are equal, and all racial, religious, and political prejudices are shunned. Private prayer, an annual fasting period, pilgrimage to various Baha’i holy sites, and monetary contributions are among the key rituals of the Baha’i faith. Baha’i is strongly pacifist and envisions world peace through its message of unity and equality. In Baha’i, God is an unknowable being, and immortality is assured. The faith eschews ceremonial leaders.

Baha i spread ...

Article

Bahia  

Aaron Myers

Of all the states in Brazil, Bahia has maintained the strongest ties with Africa and African culture. During the first two centuries of the colonial era, Bahia absorbed most of the slaves imported to Brazil. At this time, the slaves came to constitute a majority of Bahia's population and exerted a proportional effect on the developing character of the state. Today, Bahia's traditions and customs are living testimony to the enormous influence of Africans and their descendants.

Article

Alexander Bedward was born in Matilda's Corner, Saint Andrew Parish, in southeastern Jamaica. He grew up in August Town, on the Hope River in Saint Andrew. Nothing is known about his father, but his mother was supposedly a healer. Bedward could not write, and he read haltingly because of borderline literacy. Apart from the years 1883 to 1885, when he was a migrant laborer in Colón, a seaport on the Isthmus of Panama, Bedward worked until 1891 on the Mona sugar estate in Saint Andrew. He was a foreman, laborer, and cooper (a repairman of wooden casks or tubs) on the estate, from which he also leased land.

Article

Bilali  

Allan D. Austin

Muslim leader and plantation manager, was born in Africa, sold into slavery, and transported to the Bahamas and then to Sapelo Island, Georgia. His name is also given as Bilali Mahomet and Bul‐Ali. Almost nothing is known about Bilali's life in Africa, but his fellow Fula or Peul (originally Malian) friend, Salih Bilali, who was enslaved on the neighboring island of Saint Simons, said that Bilali came from the village of Timbo, in Futa Jallon (later Guinea). This was an important Muslim educational and political community and the homeland of another Fula, Ibrahima abd al‐Rahman, who was enslaved in Mississippi. Bilali's strict adherence to Muslim ways and the book he wrote in Arabic show that he paid attention to his teachers in Africa. In the Bahamas Bilali married at least one of his four known wives before being brought to Georgia around 1802 He had a ...

Article

Peter Hudson

Black Jewish organizations are not affiliated with the African Americans who either converted to Judaism or were born Jewish, and although they often identify with Beta Israel (also called Falashas), a group of Ethiopian Jews, they are a separate group. Also known as Black Hebrews, the term Black Jews refers to a range of often militant religious groups that, through combining the philosophies of Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism with idiosyncratic interpretations of Judaic history and teachings, identify themselves as God's chosen people.

Messianism figures prominently in their ideology members often follow a charismatic leader claiming divine inspiration and promising an eventual redemption from the material and spiritual poverty of the United States Motifs of freedom from bondage and slavery recur and the plight of African Americans is paralleled with the biblical story of Exodus They proclaim that African Americans were actually Hebrews before they were enslaved and robbed of ...

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The domain of black theology in Latin America and the Caribbean spans the five centuries of African presence in the Americas. It includes the numerous African and syncretic religious traditions in the region: Santería, Vodou, Candomblé, Umbanda, Shango, and many others. It encompasses Protestant Revivalism, which grew enormously in the British Caribbean during the nineteenth century, as well as more recent movements such as Rastafarianism.

This essay focuses more specifically on the development of racial consciousness within the movement known as liberation theology Since its inception in the 1960s among Catholics and Protestants in Latin America and the Caribbean liberation theology has come to subvert the religious dynamics in the region and has influenced its political movements It has also precipitated the first postemancipation debate on blackness within the religion claimed by the majority of Latin Americans This debate followed a history of deep practical ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Paul Bogle is a beloved figure in Jamaica. Although his legal status at the time of his birth is unclear, most scholars believe that he was born free in Stony Gut, Jamaica, in 1822. He operated a small independent farm there and became a lay preacher in the Native Baptist Church. His affiliation with this antislavery branch of the Baptist Church brought him into contact with British and Jamaican abolitionists, including activist George Gordon. Methodist and Baptist leaders, as well as leaders of other religious denominations, were active participants in the antislavery struggle. As a result, members of local black congregations like Bogle's were often exposed to antislavery debates, pamphlets, and sermons.

When slavery was abolished in 1834 blacks in Jamaica were promised freedom at the end of what turned out to be a four year period known as apprenticeship The apprenticeship policy forced slaves ...

Article

Trevor Hall

a free black Spanish family who lived in Seville in the early sixteenth century and migrated to the Spanish Caribbean in 1515 The family was composed of a mother father and two children whose first names are not recorded While Spanish documents recorded nothing about the father s profession the Bonilla family had enough money to pay the passage for four to sail to the Americas Most Spaniards who sailed to the Caribbean in the early sixteenth century also transported European manufactured goods food and even livestock all in high demand among Spanish colonists in the Americas Nothing is known of the Bonilla s transatlantic crossing however at that time most ships sailed from Seville to the Spanish Canary Islands and then navigated southwest to Hispaniola modern day Haiti and the Dominican Republic Despite the scarcity of information about this family the Bonillas were part of the broader migration ...

Article

Aaron Myers

Scholars distinguish three major types of Candomblé in Brazil, each of which is associated with different nações (literally “nations,” which refer to the African ethnic group origins of the Candomblé): the Gêgê-Nagô Candomblé, the Angola-Congo Candomblé, and the Candomblé de Caboclo. The first is based on Yoruba and Fon religious traditions and languages, while the others are based on diverse Bantu and Brazilian sources. There is a great deal of variation both between and within these three types of Candomblé, but all are strongly influenced by Yoruba beliefs and rituals. This article attempts to discuss the elements common to all three variants of Candomblé.

Large numbers of Yoruba slaves from Nigeria and Benin were brought to Brazil during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. They believed in one Supreme Being, known as Olorun or Olodumaré, and numerous intermediary spiritual beings, known as orixás which were in broad ...

Article

David Simonelli

“The Caribbean” refers to the island nations located in the Caribbean Sea that contain numerous African-derived populations who are often in the majority. Caribbean nations with significantly large Afro-Carib populations include the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Martinique, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, and Trinidad and Tobago. All of these islands have seen migrations of Afro-Carib populations to the United States, and their peoples have contributed significantly to African American culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Among Afro-Caribbeans, Jamaicans have had a disproportionately large influence on African American history, but the people of other nations have had their effect as well.

Most Caribbean island nations began the twentieth century in colonial servitude to European powers Great Britain in particular Those that did not Haiti the Dominican Republic and Cuba were subject to U S invasion and occupation under the provisions of ...

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For five centuries, throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, the relationship between the Catholic Church and people of African ancestry has been fraught with contradiction. The Church's complicity in slavery, its Eurocentric cosmology, and its bouts of inquisitorial zeal have rendered it an uninviting space for Afro-Latin identity. Yet the Church's need to attract converts, its overall tolerance of heterodoxy, and its public recognition of black saints, have over time made major contributions to Afro-Latin cultures. To this day this contradiction, far from being resolved, has inner potentialities that are yet to be fully realized.

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Because it is non-verbal, dance has often been perceived by Western observers as a relatively insignificant cultural medium, capable of communicating only abstract thought or emotion. In the African diaspora, however, bodily movement can be a form of prayer, or of protest. Sometimes it is both. In some cases, the brutal repression of verbal expressions of religious or political beliefs has necessitated this other, more discreet means of communication. Meaningful motion is an important and continuous aspect of diasporic culture, which assumes no necessary division between the mind and the body.

The worship of African deities in the Caribbean and Latin America continues to be performed through dance, and the choreographies of these religious ceremonies bear an uncanny resemblance to those of West African ceremonies. Vodou in Haiti, Santería in Cuba, and Candomblé in Brazil are all African diasporic religions in which dance is used to invoke ...

Article

Engenho Velho is one of the oldest terreiros, or temples, of the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé. Located in Brazil's northeastern state of Bahia it is thought to have been established by three freed African women in the 1830s However the temple may have existed long before that ...

Article

Rachel Antell

The East African nation of Ethiopia has been home to a Jewish community for many centuries. Outsiders sometimes call the Ethiopian Jews Falasha, which means “moved” or “gone into exile” in the ancient Ge'ez language that was a forerunner to the modern languages of north-central Ethiopia. Today’s Ethiopian Jewish community, however, considers the term derogatory and prefers to be called Beta Israel, Hebrew for “House of Israel.”

The origins of Judaism in Ethiopia remain a mystery, but it is likely that the community’s roots extend back for 2,500 years. Some Beta Israel believe that they are descendants of Menelik, who, according to legend, was the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba Others believe the Beta Israel to be the tribe of Dan one of the ten lost tribes of Israel mentioned in the Bible Still others trace the group s history to the biblical parting of ...

Article

Exú  

The deity known as Exú in Brazil is called Elegbara or Eleguá in Cuba and the United States, and Eshu in Nigeria. It belongs to different traditions in Cuba and Brazil. The trickster deity of the crossroads, in Cuba, Eleguá is regarded as temperamental, although helpfully benign if properly propitiated with candies, toys, and children's parties. He is brought into the home to stand guard behind the front door and is presented with offerings first before all the other orishas. In Brazil, Exú is regarded as extremely dangerous, and special propitiatory ceremonies are held several hours before major rituals to send him away so that he will not disrupt the ritual.

See also Candomblé; Religions, African, in Brazil; Religions, African, in Latin America and the Caribbean; Santería; Yoruba (religion).