A rhetorical history of race relations in the early Pentecostal movement, 1906-1916.
Hjalmeby, Erik J.
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In the spring of 1906, a religious awakening, known as the Azusa Street Revival, began at a small prayer meeting in Los Angeles. With its emphasis on an experiential “baptism in the Holy Spirit” and the accompanying phenomenon of “speaking in tongues,” this awakening launched the Pentecostal movement, which now claims millions of adherents globally. Besides the emphasis on spirit-inspired utterances, the early stage of this revival was marked by a sense of interracial unity, unprecedented within American Christianity and unique for its time. This rhetorical history documents how this counter-cultural racial integration was nurtured rhetorically in the early revival and how the message of interracial unity was soon eclipsed by other priorities. I argue that the transcendent, spiritualized rhetoric of unity was effective on a local level, but lacked the tools necessary to integrate the movement on a national level in the midst of a segregated culture.