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Secular, Scarred and Sacred

Education and Religion Among the Black Community in Nineteenth-Century Canada

Jerome Teelucksingh

Secular, Scarred and Sacred: Education and Religion Among the Black Community in Nineteenth-Century Canada focuses on the paternal yet exclusionary role of Protestant Whites and their churches among refugee slaves and free Blacks in nineteenth-century Upper Canada—many of whom had migrated to Canada to escape the dreaded system of slavery in the United States. This book contends that White Protestant churches provided organizational, social and theological models among Black communities in Canada. Author Jerome Teelucksingh further explores how Black migrants seized the educational opportunities offered by churches and schools to both advance academically and pursue an ideal of virtuous citizenship that equipped them for new social challenges.

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The presence of most Blacks in Canada was due to their escape from the drudgery of plantation life and oppressive discrimination practices in the United States. Indeed, slavery in the United States contained elements of its destruction. The harsh and brutality treatment of slaves aroused compassion and sympathy among Whites in the United States, Canada and Britain.

The abolition of slavery in the United States was not due solely to Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 and the Civil War. Instead, Canada and the Underground Railroad proved to be the weak links in the long chain of slavery. Regular utilization of the Underground Railroad undermined the stranglehold of slavery on the economy of the United States. The escape was a psychological victory over the oppressive system which preceded the physical liberation of the Blacks. If the Railroad had not existed and Canada decided to close its borders to the Black refugees, slavery would have certainly continued into the twentieth century.

The harrowing experiences during slavery had a powerful influence on the religious attitudes of Blacks in Canada. And this was often instrumental in invoking a desire to be empowered with educational and leadership skills. For most Blacks, the denial of religious and educational instruction in the United States was pivotal in understanding their attraction to religion in Canada. ← 123 | 124 → Blacks were acutely aware that religion was the key that opened the doors of limited social and occupational mobility. Education and the development of...

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