Historical Overview of African American Religion
Keywords: Christianity, African Americans, Black Church
AbstractOne of the central themes in the American history is the interaction between white and black cultures, both in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries of America. The religion perfectly reflects this interaction. As Campbell notes, African American religion has been extremely important both for American religious culture as a whole, and for the black community itself. When freedmen withdrew from white-dominated churches and formed their religious institutions, black churches, they quickly occupied a central position in African Americans’ lives. They became the chief social and cultural institutions which blacks made and operated for themselves, and therefore were necessary in promoting a sense of communal purpose. They provided the organizational structure for most activities of the community: economic, political, and educational as well as religious. This article overviews the processes out of which the black church formed as an independent institution, that served as a unifying, powerful and stimulating instrument for the African American community’s future advancements and struggle for equality.