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African Methodist Episcopal Church
(AME) Founded at Philadelphia in 1816 by Richard Allen (1760-1831) and Absalom Jones(1746-1818); one of the first fully independent African American denominations in the United States. Fosters black identity, black empowerment, and the rejection of racism in white Methodist churches.
Afrocentrism/ Afrocentricity
Scholarly and academic movement developed chiefly by Molefi Asante and based on conceptualization of Africa as the first center of civilization and culture.
Proponents approach data from the standpoint of Africa as the centered subject and from the standpoint of the African as human agent (Ervin 7).
African American strategies to overcome racial and social classification by means of technology and futuristic mythology. (Zemsauer).
Pertinent especially to exslaves' narratives of bondage in antebellum and postbellum United States. An amanuensis was a person who produced written accounts of orally narrated stories of black life in slavery. Some amanuenses completely reconstructed the life story of a formerly enslaved person; most proclaimed the resulting narrative to be a faithful depiction of the black narrator's story. Readers should rightfully question both the validity of the story being told and the motivations of the amanuensis (Pierce 1081-82).
Novelist Leon Forrest describes angularity as "the way things have a spiraling effect. . . . The fact that one person develops a kind of talk in one way and then another in another way, orchestrates an angular involvement in talk and speech patterns" (qtd. in Byerman, "Interview" 441).
Anointing/ spirit possession
In sanctified churches, worshippers may describe themselves as feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit or experiencing divine or sacred power through the practice of praise and prayer, song and sermon (Darden).
Antebellum (era)
Typically refers to the years 1840-1865 in U.S. history.
Art and expressive media
Cultural and ethnic forms used to define and articulate African American identity, viz., writing, music, painting, sculpture, photography, sewing, quilt making, wood carving, basketry, yard decoration, metalworking, and jewelry making (Jaynes 56).
A revolutionary style of jazz developed primarily by African American musicians in the 1940s as a reaction to what many regarded as the confining structure of swing music, which was the dominant musical genre of the day. Often called the first "modern" jazz style, bebop featured fast tempos and complex rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic structures (Gold 96).
A book-length work, usually fiction, that traces the emotional or psychological maturation of a centralized character. In African American autobiography and fiction, the life of the protagonist is often shaped by initial experiences with racism, white supremacy, or other forces that seek to inhibit black self-actualization.
Black Aesthetic
Generally, a set of guiding principles and conventions for the creation of African American art. Particularly, a U.S.-based political and cultural movement developed in the 1960s for the creation and advancement of art forms rooted in African American experiences and counter to Eurocentric art forms.
Black Arts movement
A 1960s to 1970s artistic movement that foregrounded and insisted on the progressive social change activity of its proponents. Led by Larry Neal, among others, this literary and political movement advocated the precepts of Black Power.
Black body
The figure of the body of persons of African descent predominates in African American literature primarily because of national disruptions, physical enslavement, and other violences visited on Africans in the past. 
Black bottom
A dance that began in jook joints in Nashville, Tennessee, (Gates and McKay 1049).
Black Classicism
Traditionengaged by African American writers who elicit conventions and tropes, most commonly the epic hero, from ancient Greek literary classics. Related to such classics are African American tropes of lynching, dismemberment, and Dionysiac rites (Rankine 14, 152).
Black Nationalism
Ideology based on the beliefs that African Americans share a national identity and that persons of African descent are united not by geography or blood but by common experiences with and in antiblack institutions.
The Black Panthers
Militant socialist U.S. organization that advocated black individual and communal self-love as well as armed self-defense of U.S. ethnic and racial minorities, especially against the U.S. national government.
Black Power
Late 1960s revolutionary movement that promoted black self-determination through its call for African Americans to revolt against racialized discrimination and white supremacy with insurgence and violence.
Black Protest movement
Actions, acts, and expressive arts developed by blacks across the twentieth century to resist and object to segregation and racial discrimination; manifested as sit-ins, marches, boycotts, and so on.
The Blues
A form of indigenous African American music originating from musical traditions maintained by enslaved Africans during the early modern slave trade. Contemporary blues forms were derived from rhythmic chanting of enslaved field workers, who developed a variety of forms of black expressivity with a focus in blues on painful emotions. The blues, like black sacred music traditions, have informed decades of African American ballads, sermons, and dance modes. The classic blues chorus is formed in a minor chord and distinguished by a stylized three-line stanza of repetition, sorrow, and signifyin(g). During the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes and other poets experimented with the adaptation of blues into poetry (see, e.g., Hughes's "The Weary Blues") [hyperlink to Hughes]. Such colloquialisms as "feeling blue" or "I gots the blues" intimate a range of feelings from melancholy and injustice to love and sexual pleasure.
Brown v. Board of Education
May 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned the 1893 U.S. Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson by declaring unconstitutional because fallacious the concept of "separate but equal" national institutions, including segregated public schools.
Bush or camp meetings
Secluded meetings in which enslaved black people secreted themselves from whites to share their frustrations, happiness, and sorrows as well as plans for escape, freedom, and self-actualization.
Call and response
Oral musical pattern of West African origin in which a leader sings or speaks and is followed by the response of a related group; the response may echo fragments of the leader's structure or words.
Civil Rights movement
1950s and 1960s sociopolitical movement that advocated nonviolent social change activism in the pursuit of legal recognition of human and civic rights for U.S. blacks.
Division or order of society according to socioeconomic status and degree of wealth or access to material resources.
To summon (a devil or spirit) by magical or supernatural power; the practice of witchcraft and root-working.
Corn ditty
One of the first musical forms to be promulgated by enslaved Africans; late 1700s colonial North American musical precursor to negro spirituals.
Cry or moan
Melancholic, guttural sound functioning as a lyric in African American sacred and secular musical traditions (Jones).
Cult of True Womanhood
Construct developed by literary critic Barbara Welter in 1961, to assert that nineteenth-century wealthy and middle-class Anglo-American women were expected to pursue and maintain a code of female conduct based on chastity, piety, submissiveness to patriarchal authority, and dependence on male superiority. "This same code of honor placed white women on a pedestal, while consigning black women to a life of bondage and sexual exploitation" (Moon 234).
Cultural code
Survival strategy passed down from generation to generation within black families; key to interpreting the signifyin(g), or double voicedness, of lyrics in black music from negro spirituals to gospel songs; e.g., when sung by enslaved peoples, the lyrics to "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot " sometimes constituted a cultural code that alerted listeners to local blacks' plans to escape bondage (Werner).
Cultural nationalism
Ideology adopted by formerly colonized groups to heal from cultural alienation from their cultural origins caused by colonization. Among African Americans, cultural nationalism promotes the return to African values and folkways culture after (in)voluntary immersion in white systems and institutions.
Cultural trauma
A dramatic loss of identity and meaning, a tear in the social fabric, affecting a group of people that has achieved some degree of cohesion (Eyerman 2).
Values, traditions, worldviews, social and political relationships created, shared, and transformed by a group of people bound together by a common history, geographic location, language, socioeconomic class, religion, or other shared identity (Nieto and Bode 171).
Reuniting of groups, classes, races, and so on from a condition of segregation; especially to abolish racial segregation in schools and other institutions.
"The African diaspora refers to the long-term historical process by which people of African descent have been scattered from their ancestral homelands to other parts of the world" (Kuryla, "Pan-Africanism" 630); the movement of Africans to diverse geographical locations beyond the borders of Africa. Most of the African diaspora is descended from people who were enslaved and shipped to the Americas during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The forced or voluntary removal of a people from their (real or imagined) homelands, resulting in a dialogic relationship between a past of rootedness and collectivity on the one hand, and on the other hand, a present of discontinuity and new constructs; the dispersion or displacement of the people as well as their ethnic customs, cultural folkways, and other sources of national identity.
Double consciousness
Concept developed by W. E. B. Du Bois in his essay "Strivings of the Negro People," first published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1897. Later, in his influential 1903 study The Souls of Black Folk,Du Bois characterized this identity conflict as a "sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others," as an internal struggle in which a black person "ever feels his two-ness,–an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder" (Du Bois 694).
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