Lecture 3: Religion and the African American Experience: Oppression and Liberation-Times of Hardship and Resistance

For centuries, spirituality and faith have largely influenced multiple aspects of the African American culture in the US. Across cultures, religion and spirituality has been clearly identified as a protective or support factor in navigating a plethora of challenging life circumstances including death, trauma, violence, illness, or other hardships. This discussion takes a historical and deeper look into the role that religion plays in lives of African Americans, and explores how spirituality and religion may serve to help youth of color in dealing with adversity, resistance, and anger.  

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will learn a historical review of how, and in what way, religion and spirituality was influential in the lives of the African slave communities in the United States before the Civil War. 

  2. Participants will learn that although most African slaves were converted to Christianity, approximately 10% of slaves arrived in the US as Muslims, while others integrated African religious customs into their Christian practice.

  3. Participants will identify how religion has become an instrument of oppression, hope, resilience, and liberation.

  4. Participants will explore the spiritual, religious, and psychological implications for youth of color, especially in times of hardship and resistance.


Lisa Fortuna, MD, MPH
Chief of Psychiatry and Vice-Chair at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital/UCSF 
Co Chair, AACAP’s Religion and Spirituality Committee

Jonathan Shepherd, MD
Chief Medical Director at Hope Health Systems, Inc.
President, Black Mental Health Alliance

Richard F. Camino-Gaztambide, MD, MA
Psychiatry Residency Program Director at Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University
Co Chair, AACAP’s Religion and Spirituality Committee

AACAP Disclaimer Statement

The contents of AACAP's site, such as text, graphics, images, and all other content are for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. AACAP has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided on this website. However, the information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind.

AACAP does not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained on this website. AACAP does not endorse or recommend any commercial products or services. In addition, private parties may not use them for advertising or product endorsement purposes. © 2020 by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry