Prophesying Daughters: Black Women Preachers and the Word, 1823-1913

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University of Missouri Press, May 12, 2003 - Religion - 160 pages
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In nineteenth-century America, many black women left their homes, their husbands, and their children to spread the Word of God. Descendants of slaves or former “slave girls” themselves, they traveled all over the country, even abroad, preaching to audiences composed of various races, denominations, sexes, and classes, offering their own interpretations of the Bible. When they were denied the pulpit because of their sex, they preached in tents, bush clearings, meeting halls, private homes, and other spaces. They dealt with domestic ideologies that positioned them as subservient in the home, and with racist ideologies that positioned them as naturally inferior to whites. They also faced legalities restricting blacks socially and physically and the socioeconomic reality of often being part of a large body of unskilled laborers.

Jarena Lee, Julia Foote, Maria Stewart, and Frances Gaudet were four women preachers who endured such hardships because of their religious convictions. Often quoting from the scripture, they insisted that they were indeed prophesying daughters whom God called upon to preach. Significantly, many of these women preachers wrote autobiographies in which they present images of assertive, progressive, pious women—steadfast and unmovable in their religious beliefs and bold in voicing their concerns about the moral standing of their race and society at large.

Chanta M. Haywood examines these autobiographies to provide new insight into the nature of prophesying, offering an alternative approach to literature with strong religious imagery. She analyzes how these four women employed rhetorical and political devices in their narratives, using religious discourse to deconstruct race, class, and gender issues of the nineteenth century.

By exploring how religious beliefs become an avenue for creating alternative ideologies, Prophesying Daughters will appeal to students and scholars of African American literature, women’s studies, and religious studies.

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Prophesying daughters: Black women preachers and the Word, 1823-1913

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Haywood (English, Florida A&M Univ.) here examines the autobiographies of four 19th-century black women preachers who were slaves or descendants of slaves in order to reveal the connection between ... Read full review


The Prophesying Daughters Biographical and Historical Background
The Act of Prophesying NineteenthCentury Black Women Preachers and Black Literary History
Prophetic Change Jarena Lees and Julia Footes Uses of Conversion Rhetoric in the Context of Reader Distrust
Prophetic Journeying The Trope of Travel in Black Women Preachers Narratives
Black Women Preachers and Biblical Interpretation
Prophetic Works Prophesying Daughters and Social ActivismThe Case of Frances Joseph Gaudet
Can I Get a Witness? The Implications of Prophesying for African American Literary Studies
Selected Bibliography

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About the author (2003)

Chanta M. Haywood currently serves as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Albany State University, where she is the chief fundraiser officer for the school. She completed her doctoral and master’s studies in American literature from the University of California at San Diego and her undergraduate education in English from Florida A&M University. A scholar, grant writer, reviewer, and administrator, Haywood has over 20 years of academic professional experience in three university systems (Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia), having worked in different capacities including graduate dean, associate provost for both academic affairs and research, vice president, and full professor. Dr. Haywood was appointed by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to serve on the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Board, which she chaired. Her current academic research interests include literature for children in the black press before the Civil War. She is interested in writing college preparation and success texts as well as inspirational books for children and adolescents.

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