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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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I’m on my way to Canada, That cold and dreary land, The dire effects of Slavery, I can no longer stand.

Old Master! Don’t come after me– I’m going up to Canada, Where colored men are free.

(Poem printed in Voice of the Fugitive 15 January 1851)

The impact of Protestantism on the refugee Black communities in Canada during the nineteenth century records one of the most influential episodes in the history of Blacks in Canada. In the analysis of the relationship between Blacks and Christianity, the plethora of pamphlets, newspapers and reports were a valuable asset. This body of literature enabled a better appreciation of the Blacks’ response to education, leadership and assimilation. Annual reports of the Anti-Slavery Society, Elgin Association coupled with the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society gave a comprehensive account of the organizational and individual efforts to combat the evils of slavery. The pamphlets ← 1 | 2 → captured the reality of the conditions among Blacks and the newspapers of secular and religious nature were attempts to reconstruct their religious life. The biographies and memoirs published in the nineteenth century, served as cornerstones which complemented the secondary literature and proved the existence of a unique relationship between Blacks and Protestantism.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, biographies and memoirs provided vivid accounts of Blacks and their benefactors. For instance, the autobiographies and biographies of religious leaders such as Josiah Henson, William King and Richard Warren proved...

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