"Get the Learnin' but don't lose the Burnin'": The Socio-Cultural and Religious Politics of Education in a Black Pentecostal College Open Access

Tucker, Anjulet (2009)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/kk91fk94v?locale=en
Published

Abstract


"Get the Learnin' but don't lose the Burnin'": The Socio-Cultural and
Religious Politics of Education in a Black Pentecostal College

By
Anjulet Tucker
B.A., Emory University, 2000
M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School, 2002
Advisor: Steven M. Tipton, Ph.D.

An Abstract of
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Emory
University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Graduate Division of Religion
Ethics and Society
2009

Abstract

"Get the Learnin' but don't lose the Burnin'": The Socio-Cultural and Religious Politics of Education in a Black Pentecostal College

By Anjulet Tucker

In 1917 the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), the oldest and largest black Pentecostal denomination in the United States, established Saints Literary and Industrial School (later renamed Saints Junior College) in rural Lexington, Mississippi. The school served as the denomination's main educational initiative for over fifty years and was responsible for educating some of COGIC's most well known leaders. Despite its regional reputation for academic excellence, the college closed in 1983.

Studies documenting the black church's support of educational institutions have ignored COGIC's engagement with education, choosing to focus instead on Black Baptist and Methodist denominations and their contributions. Seeking to disrupt common perceptions that black Pentecostals are anti-intellectual, this study argues that Saints provides an important glimpse into black Pentecostal intellectual culture. The study argues that early leaders and laypersons in the Church of God in Christ created a learning environment where academic, spiritual and moral development was paramount. Furthermore it suggests that the demise of Saints should not be attributed to an adoption of an anti-intellectual ethic but rather to a host of forces internal and external to the denomination.

Research methods include interviews with former students, teachers and administrators from Saints, interviews with COGIC leaders, analyses of denominational and other historical documents, and observation of COGIC National Conferences. The findings suggest the need for more complicated analyses of black Pentecostal groups' educational values. Additionally it strongly encourages scholars of religion and American education to challenge allegations of black Pentecostal anti-intellectualism.


Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter

1. INTRODUCTION 1

2. MAPPING BLACK PENTECOSTAL EDUCATION NETWORKS 22

Racial Dimensions of Pentecostal Education 25

Early 20th century white Pentecostal schools 30

The Education of Black Pentecostal Clergy 36

Pentecostals' Encounters in Black Colleges 42

Schools of Their Own 45

African-American Churches and Schools in America

Before the 20th century 49

Survival of the Fittest 54

Black Boarding Schools in Mississippi 55

Conclusions 58

3. "WALK IN DIGNITY, TALK IN DIGNITY, LIVE IN DIGNITY" 60

Origins 61

Financing Saints 64

Gendered Networks 68

Regimen 73 Academics 77

Religious Life 79

Leisure 84

Choosing Saints 85

Class 87 Diversity 90

"Institutional Caring" 91

The Decline of Black Boarding Schools 96

Conclusions 99

4. CHARISMA AND CONTINUITY 102

Women's Leadership and Education in COGIC 102

Transfer of Power 115

"Bound for ASU" 118

"The Saints Shall Stand by God's Man" 124

The "Charismatic Tendency" in Black Churches 127

Conclusions 131

5. ASSESSING THE ROLE OF SAINTS IN THE TRANSFORMATION

OF COGIC FROM "SECT" TO "CHURCH" 133

Church-Sect Theory as an Interpretative Lens 133

COGIC's Transformation 139

Saints' Contributions in Light of COGIC's sect-church 149

Transformation The Resurrection of Saints 150

6. CONCLUSIONS 158

An Appraisal of the Saints Model 158

Directions for Further Research 161

Social Location 167

Future Direction of COGIC Educational Institutions 170

APPENDIX 173

Clarification of Methodology and Interview Design 174

Interview Questionnaire 177

Selected Timeline of Significant Events Impacting the Rise,

Development and Demise of Saints Industrial

and Literary School 181

WORKS CITED 186

About this thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
School
Department
Degree
Submission
Language
  • English
Research field
Keyword
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files