Beyond Slavery pp 287-303 | Cite as

Enslaved Black Women: A Theology of Justice and Reparations

  • Dwight N. Hopkins
Chapter
Part of the Black Religion/Womanist Thought/Social Justice book series

Abstract

Many black women who had been enslaved in the United States never doubted that their God would do right where others had done wrong. They believed that God would not allow the great suffering of black women’s bodies and minds to go unanswered. Some type of restitution and reparations were in order. After the hell of the Civil War, Mrs. Lucy Delaney exclaimed, “Slavery! Cursed slavery! What crimes has it invoked! And, oh! What retribution has a righteous God visited upon these traders in human flesh!”1

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Lucy Delaney, “From the Darkness Cometh the Light, or, Struggles for Freedom,” in Six Women’s Slave Narratives, ed. Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers (1857; reprint, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988) 14.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Maria W. Stewart, “Productions of Mrs. Maria W. Stewart Presented to the First African Baptist Church & Society of the City of Boston,” in Spiritual Narratives, ed. Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers (1835; reprint, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988) 17–21.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See Mary Frances Berry, My Face Is Black Is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations (New York: Knopf, 2005) 7, 212.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    For more on these and other arguments, see Christopher Hitchens, “Debt of Honor,” in Should America Pay? Slavery and the Raging Debate on Reparations, ed. Raymond A. Winbush (New York: HarperCollins, 2003) 172–179; and Molly Secours, “Riding the Reparations Bandwagon,” in Should America Pay? 286–298, 399.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
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  9. William St. Clari, The Door of No Return: The History of the Cape Coast Castle and the Atlantic Slave Trade (New York: BlueBridge, 2007)Google Scholar
  10. David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992)Google Scholar
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  12. see Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008).Google Scholar
  13. 10.
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  14. 11.
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  17. 14.
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  19. 18.
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    Quoted in Darlene Clark Hine and Kathleen Thompson, A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America (New York: Broadway, 1998) 98.Google Scholar
  21. 22.
    Quoted in Dorothy Sterling, ed. We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Norton, 1984) 25.Google Scholar
  22. 24.
    Quoted in Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, Family from Slavery to the Present (New York: Vintage, 1986) 34.Google Scholar
  23. 25.
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  24. 26.
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  25. 27.
    Pamela Bridgewater, “Ain’t I a Slave: Slavery, Reproductive Abuses and Reparations,” UCLA Women’s Law Journal 14 (2005).Google Scholar
  26. 28.
    Quotes are from Dorothy Sterling, ed. We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Norton, 1984) 10, 43, respectively.Google Scholar
  27. 29.
    Quoted in Darlene Clark Hine and Kathleen Thompson, A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America (New York: Broadway, 1998) 98.Google Scholar
  28. 32.
    Deborah Gray White, Ar’n’t I a Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South (New York: Norton, 1985) 29–32.Google Scholar
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    Meizhu Lui, “The Wealth Gap Gets Wider,” Op-Ed, Washington Post, March 23, 2009.Google Scholar
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    Thomas M. Shapiro, The Hidden Cost of Being African American (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004) 47–49.Google Scholar
  38. 41.
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  39. 43.
    Jay R. Mandle, “Continuity and Change: The Use of Black Labor After the Civil War,” Journal of Black Studies 21 (1991) 420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 45.
    Meizhu Lui et al., The Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide (New York: New, 2006) 11.Google Scholar
  41. 47.
    Ira Katznelson, When Affirmative Action Was White (New York: Norton, 2006) 113–124.Google Scholar
  42. 48.
    Shaila K. Dewan, “Black Farmers’ Refrain: Where’s All Our Money?” New York Times, August 1, 2004.Google Scholar
  43. 49.
    Melvin L. Oliver and Thomas M. Shapiro, Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality (New York: Routledge, 2006) 154–159.Google Scholar
  44. 50.
    For extended treatment of enslaved women’s theology, see Joan M. Martin, More Than Chains and Toil: A Christian Work Ethic of Enslaved Women (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2000)Google Scholar
  45. Dwight N. Hopkins and George C. L. Cummings, eds., Cut Loose Your Stammering Tongue: Black Theology in the Slave Narrative, 2nd ed. (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox, 2003)Google Scholar
  46. Dwight N. Hopkins, Down, Up, and Over: Slave Religion and Black Theology (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2000).Google Scholar
  47. 51.
    Quoted in Martin, More Than Chains, 82. See also Olive Gilbert, Narrative of Sojourner Truth (New York: Penguin, 1998) 30.Google Scholar
  48. 53.
    Martha Griffith Browne, Autobiography of a Female Slave (1857; reprint, New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969) 21f.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Bernadette J. Brooten 2010

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  • Dwight N. Hopkins

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