Black Amish Communities: A Look at the History and Culture of African American Amish Groups
Black Amish Communities are a group of traditionalist Christian communities known for their simple living, plain dress, and resistance to modern technology. While the Amish are typically associated with European ancestry, there is a lesser-known subgroup of Amish that identifies as African American. These communities, often referred to as “Black Amish,” have a unique and fascinating history.
History of Black Amish Communities
The first known African American Amish person was a man named Moses Shirley, who was born into slavery in Virginia in 1791. Shirley was converted to the Amish faith by an Amish bishop named Jacob Shenk and later moved to Ohio, where he was ordained as a minister in the Amish church. Shirley went on to become a well-respected member of the Amish community, and his descendants continue to be a part of the Black Amish community to this day.
However, the integration of African Americans into Amish communities was not always welcomed. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, many Amish churches adopted a formal policy of segregation, which prohibited African Americans from joining their communities. This policy was motivated in part by a desire to protect Amish people from the racism and discrimination that was prevalent in society at the time.
Despite these barriers, some African Americans were able to join Amish communities through marriage or by being accepted as converts. In the mid-1900s, the Amish began to reexamine their segregation policies, and many communities began to welcome African Americans into their churches. Today, there are several Black Amish communities located in states including Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.
Culture of Black Amish Communities
Black Amish communities follow the same basic principles as other Amish communities, including a commitment to simple living, non-conformity, and separation from the outside world. However, Black Amish communities also have their own unique cultural practices and traditions.
One distinctive aspect of Black Amish culture is the use of African American English, or “AAE,” as a primary language. AAE is a dialect of English spoken by many African Americans, and it is used by Black Amish communities as a way to preserve their cultural identity.
Another important aspect of Black Amish culture is music. Many Black Amish communities have a strong tradition of singing, and they often use music as a way to praise God and express their faith. In addition to traditional hymns, Black Amish communities also have their own style of gospel music, which combines elements of both Amish and African American cultural traditions.
Challenges Faced by Black Amish Communities
Like other Amish communities, Black Amish communities face challenges related to their separation from modern society. They often struggle to balance their commitment to traditional values with the demands of the outside world. In addition, Black Amish communities have faced and continue to face discrimination and prejudice from both the Amish community and wider society.
One of the most significant challenges faced by Black Amish communities is the lack of educational opportunities. Many Amish communities do not have formal schools, and children are typically taught at home by their parents or in small, community-based schools. This can be particularly difficult for Black Amish children, who may not have access to the same resources and educational opportunities as their white counterparts.
Black Amish communities are a unique and fascinating part of Amish culture. While they share many of the same values and traditions as other Amish communities, they also have their own unique cultural practices and challenges. As the Amish continue to adapt to the changing world around them, it will be important to understand and appreciate the unique aspects of the Black Amish community. One of the most important aspects of the Black Amish community is their commitment to education.
While the Amish generally do not pursue higher education, the Black Amish have embraced the importance of education and have made it a priority. They have established their own schools and have worked to ensure that their children receive a quality education. This commitment to education has enabled the Black Amish to become successful in a variety of fields, including business, medicine, and law. The Black Amish also have a strong sense of community and family.
They are very close–knit and supportive of one another, and they often work together to help each other out. This sense of community is an important part of the Black Amish culture and is something that is often overlooked by outsiders. Finally, the Black Amish have a strong commitment to their faith. They are deeply religious and take their faith seriously. They attend church regularly and are very involved in their local church communities. This commitment to faith is an important part of the Black Amish culture and is something that is often overlooked by outsiders.