Between 1500 and 1866, 12.5 million Africans were brought to the Western Hemisphere in the slave trade. Approximately 15% died in the Middle Passage, resulting in about 11 million surviving African slaves. Approximately 450,000 of those were brought to the American colonies or the United States, the vast majority being taken to the Caribbean, Central and South America.
(Henry Louis Gates, Jr., author, Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History 1500-2008, in a speech at the Atlanta History Center, Dec. 13, 2011, broadcast on C-SPAN2 BOOK TV, Jan. 29, 2012)
It is the contributions to music and worship of these 450,000 and their descendants that have so influenced Christian hymnody and song and remain the most influential factor in the worship music of today and where it’s going in the future. This is what I’m celebrating this month with daily postings.