Singing served multiple purposes for the Colored Conventions of the nineteenth century. First, it served as a transition between sessions, providing a moment of reprieve, reflection, and rejuvenation. Second, the genre and lyrics of the songs reiterated the themes and purpose of the conventions. Emotional, religious, and political in their content, these songs unified the participants in their purpose. Starting a session with song set the tone for the discussions to follow. Singing in the middle of a session served as a reprieve from very long meetings. Concluding a session with a song served as a benediction, inspiring participants to act upon resolutions that had been made during the proceedings. The content of the songs tell us about the emotional connection convention participants had to their values and goals.
Singing often preceded prayer in these conventions, and this underscores the role of what Frances Smith Foster calls Afro-Protestantism in Black political thought and activism at this time . The Convention minutes document a variety of musical activities, including solo and choral performance, as well as moments when all of the participants would sing together as an act of worship, celebration, or both. These moments of musical expression are connected by their grounding in Black Christian practices. Eddie Glaude asserts that African American religion is a “practice of freedom,” and that “religion becomes a site for self-creation and for communal advancement with political consequences” . Singing, one of the essential practices of African American religion generally, and Black Christianity specifically, is the emotional expression of freedom, identity-formation, and communal advancement, and the music-related activities noted in the Conventions clearly demonstrate this.
Navigate the tabs to the left to explore who sang during conventions, what types of songs were sung during conventions, when during a convention singing took place, and why singing took place. Finally, explore the legacy of music and activism left by the Colored Convention Movement.
 Foster, Frances Smith. “A Narrative of the Interesting Origins and (Somewhat) Surprising Developments of African-American Print Culture.” American Literary History, vol. 17, no. 4, 2005, pp. 714–740. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3567947.
 Glaude, Eddie S. An Uncommon Faith: A Pragmatic Approach to the Study of African American Religion. , 2018. Print. (p. 17).