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Black MagicReligion and the African American Conjuring Tradition$
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Yvonne Chireau

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780520209879

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520209879.001.0001

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“We All Believed in Hoodoo”

“We All Believed in Hoodoo”

Conjure and Black American Cultural Traditions

(p.121) CHAPTER 5 “We All Believed in Hoodoo”
Black Magic

Yvonne P. Chireau

University of California Press

This chapter explores some of the public impressions of Conjure in the decades between Emancipation and the first half of the twentieth century. After the slavery period, black supernatural traditions acquired vastly different meanings as they were exposed to forces of change both within and outside their communities of origin. In the 1870s, clergy and educators working among the freed former slaves in the South attacked conjuring practices. Ostensibly committed to the improvement of the lives of freed slaves after the Civil War, these cultural reformers, including blacks and whites from the northern states, called for the repudiation of Conjure and other slave traditions, identifying them with degradation, ignorance, and the demoralizing experience of bondage. The first generation of freed persons confronted the perspectives of another world. Some would eschew the styles of conduct they associated with the past and with enslavement. For others, the realignment of values and interests did not entail a wholesale rejection of the older traditions. As a standard of the older ways, Conjure would persist in black life for years beyond Emancipation. And in time, alternative traditions and styles of supernaturalism, magic, and spirituality would take root.

Keywords:   Conjure, Emancipation, supernaturalism, slavery, African American

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