Race Patriotism: Protest and Print Culture in the A.M.E. Church examines important nineteenth-century social issues through the lens of the AME Church and its publications. This book explores the ways in which leaders and laity constructed historical narratives around varied locations to sway public opinion of the day. Drawing on the official church newspaper, the Christian Recorder, and other denominational and rare major primary sources, Bailey goes beyond previously published works that focus solely on the founding era of the tradition or the eastern seaboard or post-bellum South to produce a work than breaks new historiographical ground by spanning the entirety of the nineteenth century and exploring new geographical terrain such as the American West.
Through careful analysis of AME print culture, Bailey demonstrates that far from focusing solely on the “politics of uplift” and seeking to instill bourgeois social values in black society as other studies have suggested, black authors, intellectuals, and editors used institutional histories and other writings for activist purposes and reframed protest in new ways in the postbellum period.
Adding significantly to the literature on the history of the book and reading in the nineteenth century, Bailey examines AME print culture as a key to understanding African American social reform recovering the voices of black religious leaders and writers to provide a more comprehensive and nuanced portrayal of the central debates and issues facing African Americans in the nineteenth century such as migration westward, selecting the appropriate referent for the race, Social Darwinism, and the viability of emigration to Africa. Scholars and students of religious studies, African American studies, American studies, history, and journalism will welcome this pioneering new study.
Julius H. Bailey is the author of Around the Family Altar: Domesticity in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1865–1900. He is an associate professor in the Religious Studies Department at the University of Redlands in Redlands, California.