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“Heralding Africa’s Redemption”: history professor working on book

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“Heralding Africa’s Redemption”: history professor working on book

Photo courtesy of Calvin.edu.

Photo courtesy of Calvin.edu.

Photo courtesy of Calvin.edu.

Photo courtesy of Calvin.edu.

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Professor Eric Washington of the history department is currently working on a book about African-American Baptist missions from 1820 to 1920, taking in different parts of Africa, including Liberia, Southern Africa and Central Africa. The book is tentatively titled “Heralding Africa’s Redemption.”

“The basic argument of the book is that African-American Baptists had a dual focus on missions in Africa,” Washington said. “It was both to spread the gospel … but also, they believed that they were specially marked for the task because they had survived enslavement … and that God had specifically freed them to go back to Africa to spread the gospel.”

Washington is undertaking this project as an extension of his doctoral work. He cited his upbringing as an African-American Baptist as his source of inspiration, as well as his unawareness of the connection and the vision African-American Baptists had for the African continent.

“I’m not saying [the African-American Baptist vision of Africa] was wrong or right, but still, my Baptists had Africa on their minds, and they believed themselves to be African people,” Washington stated. “Even though they were born on this side of the Atlantic, they saw themselves in solidarity with their African brothers and sisters. So that intrigued me.”

Writing this book has required plenty of research. Washington has visited nine historical archives across the country, some of which he visited several times, for his research for this book as well as his previous dissertation. These archives include the Library of Congress, the Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives, the Historical Archives at Spelman College and the Yale Divinity School Reading Room.

Washington hopes to be done drafting the book by the end of the spring semester, but he is fairly certain he will be done at some point during the summer of 2019.

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