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Toni Anderson, Music Historian, on
The American Missionary Association (AMA)

Toni Anderson Talk about the founding of Fisk, who the AMA were, and then the Christian mission that they saw themselves involved in.

Anderson : Fisk University was founded by the American Missionary Association, a group that had organized in rebellion, in a sense, because they felt like other Christian organizations that were doing freedmen’s education and relief were not as dedicated to the causes as they wanted them to be. For example, they often accepted money from southern plantation owners. And they felt that that tainted the whole purpose for being. So the AMA (the American Missionary Association) wanted their organization to be pure, so to speak. So that’s why they formed.

And when they went south, right on the heels of the Union army, to open educational institutions for the blacks, they felt that this was the primary avenue through which African Americans and newly freed blacks could rise in society and better themselves. So education was their main purpose for going, but they coupled that. They had a second goal, and that was Christianity. They believed that two things would help the newly freed blacks: education and Christianity. And so throughout their entire existence, those ideals were coupled together.

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