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PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
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Martin Marty said of the first edition of this documentary witness, published
nearly fifteen years ago, that it helped establish the canon of African American
religious studies. This and similar accolades warmed the heart, but perhaps
the most enduring words of encouragement have come from the many stu-
dents with whom I have shared the original edition of the anthology. Students
have told me that the readings gave them a surety, a historical warrant, as it
were, to speak of their own faith and religious background. Some have gone
back to their families and home congregations with a renewed appreciation of
the religious legacy bequeathed to them by their parents and grandparents.
Others, some of whom acknowledge no traditional Christian identity or who
have embraced the tenets of alternative religious cultures (for example, Islam),
tell me of the rewards they obtained from finding in the collection you are
about to read a better picture of the diverse contributions peoples of African
descent have made to the pluralistic religious landscape of America.
The first edition of the anthology has been used in varied venues. Univer-
sity and college professors, notably those in departments of African American
studies, variously named, history, and religion, have employed the anthology
as a text. One professor told me that he taught a course on African American
history with the documentary source book as his principal text, a choice I'm
not sure even I would have made, but one that underscores Carter G. Wood-
son's thesis that a thorough examination of the religious history of black
Americans is tantamount to studying African American history. On perhaps a
dozen occasions since the publication of Afro-American Religious History: A
Documentary Witness in
1985,
pastors of predominantly African American
churches have told me that they purchased the volume for their own libraries
and were attempting to employ it in educational forums within their con-
gregations. Further afield, a Japanese professor of American studies when a
Fulbright scholar at Syracuse University took several volumes home with her,
and I have learned that the anthology is also in use in Denmark, Italy, Ger-
many, England, and other European countries. African scholars visiting Syr-
acuse also tell me that the
1985
edition is in use in their home institutions.
Given the generally positive reception to the first edition of this anthology, I
have struggled with how to improve it without adding inordinately to its length
and, ultimately, cost. This second edition includes more documentary witnesses
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