Honors College Theses

Publication Date



English (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Joe Pellegrino


The images found throughout African American religious songs are timeless, yet they reflect the realities of their particular historical and cultural contexts, explaining those circumstances from the view of the African American community. Despite the differences in sound, there is a strong sense of continuity between each era, as compositions from slave songs to rap use certain passages from scripture to emphasize the themes of freedom, hope, and perseverance. From the spiritual to the gospel to contemporary religious rap, both history and hope have been lifted up and transformed in the voices of oppressed and enduring African Americans.