When Troubles Arise

Faith-Based Story Telling

Faith-based storytelling captures the strong religious culture among African Americans and spiritual expressions of faith and optimism through stories, religious song, and Bible verses.

Faith-Based Story Telling

Older African Americans in particular, have transmitted stories of “making it through” times of oppression and serious illness that incorporate their strong religious culture. Historically, stories communicated through religious songs that have memorized and transmitted orally was a strategy that has given African Americans deep meaning to their human existence.

Stories told through religious songs have also been a cultural strategy by which the African American slave communicated their fears to God and also a strategy to communicate encouragement to one another in their plight. The spirituals for example, permitted African slaves to maintain a positive sense of self (through a self-identity as a child of God), to cope with a life in servitude, and to express their belief in the promise of a future life that would be free of pain and suffering. The practice of storytelling to communicate a faith in God, to encourage one another, and to remain optimistic during adversity continues today.

Dr. Jill Hamilton

Jill Hamilton, R.N., Ph.D. FAAN is Professor, tenured, and Senior FacultyFellow of SDOH & Health Disparities at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and Affiliate Professor at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Hamilton earned her BSN, MSN, and PhD in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a BS in Accounting from North Carolina Central University, and postdoctoral training in the nursing care of older adults at the Oregon Health & Science University.