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Rites of Lynching and Rights of Dance

Rites of Lynching and Rights of Dance

Historic, Anthropological, and Afro-Pentecostal Perspectives on Black Manhood after 1865

(p.95) 6 Rites of Lynching and Rights of Dance
Craig Scandrett-Leatherman
NYU Press

This chapter examines how Charles Harrison Mason (1866–1961), the founder of the largest Afro-Pentecostal church, the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), resisted the dehumanizing effects of lynching through dance and spirituality. It shows how the Afro-Pentecostal tradition, as signaled and initiated by COGIC, developed in part as a black ritual system of liberation in response to the white ritual system of lynching. It suggests that Mason attempted to ameliorate the emasculation of black men and the disempowerment of the black community by strategically developing rituals of revision that helped black men resist dehumanization while reinvigorating their identity and lives through their own rituals. The chapter demonstrates how Afro-Pentecostalism's conscientious objection and dance both expand the conversation about the rites of lynching and the rights of black manhood.

Keywords:   dance, spirituality, lynching, Charles Harrison Mason, Church of God in Christ, black men, rituals, dehumanization, Afro-Pentecostalism, black manhood

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