The broader evolution of African-American culture has been brilliantly explored by Lawrence Levine in his Black Culture and Black Consciousness. He sees in music and dance, song and story, rich evidence of the separate, independent life slaves lived alongside their existence of dependence upon their owners. Slave music was a distinct cultural form, created and constantly recreated through a blending of individual and communal expression. The sense of the oneness of things was reinforced by a firm belief, inherited from Africa, in a universe filled with spirits and luck who could be invoked, or for that matter provoked. Belief in magic and luck were valuable supports in a way of life as unpredictable and uncontrollable as that of the slave. Some were obviously tales with a moral, reinforcing religious beliefs and preaching the virtues of kindness, humility, family loyalty, and obedience to parents, and sometimes submissive or at least resignation, in the relation with the master.

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