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“Tearing Down the Walls of Segregation”: Race, Conservatism, and Evangelical Rap


Evangelical rap may sound like an oxymoron, but it was one of the most important trends in evangelical America as the Christian right rose to new levels of power in the 1990s. The trio DC Talk sold millions of album and dominated the Christian charts from the early 1990s and into the early 2000s. This was more than pure entertainment. Popular culture, and especially popular culture targeted at teens, is an important venue for disseminating values and sustaining religious identities. The artists promoted by the Christian music industry have to reflect the ideas and values that parents and central evangelical institutions wish to teach their children. In the 1990s, racial reconciliation was one of the most important issues to evangelical America and DC Talk were poster boys for a multiracial and multicultural America. Therefore this article takes DC Talk as a starting point to discuss evangelical engagement with race issues in the 1990s. DC Talk wrapped up evangelical individualism and color-blind conservatism in hip-hop garb, trying to reinvent a group with a checkered past when it comes to race relations as the hope of a racially harmonious America.

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Steven Miller , Age of Evangelicalism: America's Born Again Years (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014)

Andrew Harttman , A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2015)

Heather Hendershot , Shaking the World for Jesus: Media and Conservative Evangelical Culture (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004)

Korie L. Edwards , The Elusive Dream: The Power of Race in Interracial Churches (New York: University of Oxford Press, 2008)

Omotayo O. Banjo and Kesha Morant Williams , “A House Divided? Christian Music in Black and White,” Journal of Media and Religion, 10, 3 (2011), 115–37

Jane Dailey , “Sex, Segregation, and the Sacred after Brown,” Journal of American History, 91, 1 (2006), 119–44

Curtis J. Evans , “White Evangelical Protestant Responses to the Civil Rights Movement,” Harvard Theological Review, 102, 2 (2009), 245–73

Randall J. Stephens , “‘It Has to Come from the Hearts of the People’: Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, Race, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act,” Journal of American Studies, 50, 3 (2016), 127

David King , “The New Internationalists: World Vision and the Revival of American Evangelical Humanitarianism, 1950–2010,” Religions, 3 (2012), 922–49

David R. Swartz , “Global Reflex: International Evangelicals, Human Rights, and the New Shape of American Social Engagement,” in Brian Steensland and Philip Goff , The New Evangelical Social Engagement (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 221–41

Korie L. Edwards , The Elusive Dream: The Power of Race in Interracial Churches (New York: University of Oxford Press, 2008)

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Journal of American Studies
  • ISSN: 0021-8758
  • EISSN: 1469-5154
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-american-studies
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