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Four Steeples over the City StreetsReligion and Society in New York's Early Republic Congregations$
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Kyle T. Bulthuis

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781479814275

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479814275.001.0001

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Gendering Race in the Church

Gendering Race in the Church

Black Male Benevolence, 1800–1820

(p.97) 5 Gendering Race in the Church
Four Steeples over the City Streets

Kyle T. Bulthuis

NYU Press

This chapter explains the intersections of gender with race in church life. In the larger society, slavery, poverty, and menial status meant that black men risked being labeled feminine and without power. Thus in the black churches men, not women, took primary place, mimicking the white church's example in an exaggerated form. Black women, however, remained numerous in the churches, and supported their leaders through the emergence of auxiliary benevolent societies and in quiet, obedient forms of piety, similar to most white women. Just as white women gained a place in the public sphere through benevolence, so did black men in public processions and benevolent societies. These black men used a universal language of unity, which mirrored colonial-era church language, but like those earlier forms masked the strongly middle-class and masculine identities of the actors.

Keywords:   race, church life, black men, gender, black churches, benevolent societies, unity, church language, masculine identities

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