Author shares Lowcountry findings about African culture

Photo by University of Michigan


The Detroit Mercy community experienced a virtual talk Feb. 11 with author Jason Young, an associate professor of history.

Young talked about his book “Rituals of Resistance: African Atlantic Religion in the Kongo and the Lowcountry Region of Georgia and South Carolina in the Era of Slavery.”

The talk was an insightful experience filled with information on Young’s book and what inspired him to write it.

The story of how Young came to write this book has a lot to do with his background in the subject of history.

Upon approaching graduate school, Young explained he always wanted to pursue his passion for history, especially African American history.

This passion led to him taking a trip to a location that is rich with African American history.

Young went to the Lowcountry of Georgia and South Carolina, an area off the coast of the southeast Atlantic that spans roughly from Charleston to Savannah.

“When I got to Charleston it was a place that was thick with history,” Young said. “It’s a place where history is on you.”

The culture that is distinct to this area is the Gullah-Geechee culture.

It was the culture of the enslaved Africans who were brought to this region, he said.

Young described his growing fascination with this culture. He saw it in many aspects of the culture, from food to language.

After witnessing this, he wanted to get more involved and tell a story of this region’s people.

“The book really is my attempt to cross those waters, to tell a full and complete story about Africa, the people who were living there, the cultures that were operating and to kind of follow their line through to their progeny living in the Americas,” he said.

In his talk, Young shared many discoveries he made while researching.

For example, he said that Africans were already exposed to Catholicism prior to being captured and brought to the Americas.

The Kingdom of Kongo adopted Catholicism in 1491 after learning of it from European missionaries, Young said.

He also noted that many people forget that Africans interacted with Europe before slavery.

Centuries before being brought to the Americas, Africans had been in Europe already and operated at different levels of society, as depicted in some historical art.

Young noted that when enslaved Africans arrived in the Americas, the environment was primarily Protestant.

Given that some Africans were Catholic, many resisting being converted.

These are only a few examples of the enlightening history Young gave in his talk.

His book covers all of this and much more in greater detail.