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A Free Reading Passage on Vodun for AP U.S. History

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 27

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Vodun is a referenced topic in the Regions of the British Colonies topic in Period 2 of AP U.S. History. You could reference this example on your AP U.S. History test.


Vodun dance

Togolese dancing a traditional Vodun dance (196732298/Shutterstock)


Vodun, also known as Voodoo, is a religion with deep roots in West African spirituality that was brought to the Americas by enslaved Africans. It became a crucial element of cultural resilience and resistance for enslaved people, particularly in regions with large African populations such as Louisiana and the Caribbean.


Vodun is centered around the belief in a supreme creator, known as Bondye, and a pantheon of spirits called loa or lwa, who govern various aspects of life and nature. Followers of Vodun communicate with these spirits through rituals, offerings, dances, and music, seeking their guidance, protection, and intervention in daily life.


As enslaved Africans were forcibly transported to the New World, they carried their religious beliefs and practices with them. In colonial America, Vodun served as a means of preserving African heritage and fostering a sense of community among the enslaved. Despite the oppressive conditions of slavery, Vodun rituals provided spiritual solace and a way to cope with the harsh realities of life.


The practice of Vodun in colonial America often had to be conducted in secret due to the widespread fear and suppression of African religions by European colonists, who viewed them as pagan and threatening. Enslaved individuals would gather in hidden locations, such as secluded forests or remote clearings, to perform their rituals away from the prying eyes of slaveholders.


Vodun also demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt and incorporate elements of other religions, particularly Christianity. In regions like Louisiana, where Catholicism was predominant, Vodun practitioners began to syncretize their beliefs with Catholic saints, seeing parallels between the saints and their own loa. This blending of traditions allowed Vodun to survive and even thrive under the guise of Catholic worship.


The influence of Vodun extended beyond the spiritual realm. It played a crucial role in organizing resistance and rebellion against the brutal system of slavery. Enslaved people used Vodun ceremonies to plan uprisings, communicate covertly, and strengthen their resolve to resist oppression. One of the most famous examples of this is the Haitian Revolution, where Vodun was a unifying force that inspired and guided enslaved Africans in their successful struggle for independence from French colonial rule.

In addition to its role in resistance, Vodun also influenced various aspects of culture in colonial America, including music, dance, and folklore. Drumming, chanting, and dancing were integral parts of Vodun ceremonies and left a lasting impact on the cultural landscape of the Americas, contributing to the development of genres such as jazz, blues, and gospel music.


PRINTABLE READING PASSAGE ON VODUN

Would you prefer to share a printable passage with your students? Click the image below to grab it!



Vodun FREE Reading Passage


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The Regions of British Colonies

Period 2

AP U.S. History




Vodun



#Vodun #Voodoo

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 27

8

0

0

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