In the Reconstruction period, Black religion and politics intersected and fostered ideas about black interdependent independence in predominantly white churches. We see this form of black religious politics exemplified in the experiences and ideas of the Reverend George Freeman Bragg Jr., a Black Episcopal priest who was educated at the Branch Theological School (BTS) in Petersburg, Virginia. It was upon the foundation of Bragg's experiences at the BTS, established as a racially segregated alternative to the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary (in Alexandria, Virginia), and in the Readjuster Movement (a biracial political coalition that controlled Virginia's legislature from 1879-1885), that he wrote histories of Black people in the Episcopal Church, histories that extolled black leadership, the need for (white) economic support for but also autonomous action of black churches and black leaders, and the efficacy of the Episcopal Church as a political training ground for black church members. Bragg's case both demonstrates how broadening the definitions of black religion reconfigures studies of religion, reconstruction, and Blackness, and expands our notions of Black political critique as deriving from more than the familiar binaries of protest and accommodation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cultural Studies
- Religious studies