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Carter Godwin Woodson, 1875-1950
The History of the Negro Church
Washington, D. C.: The Associated Publishers, c1921.


In his classic The History of the Negro Church, Carter G. Woodson traces the influence of the black church in America from colonial times through the early years of the twentieth century. Beginning with early church movements in the North and efforts to minister to slaves in the South, the author describes the origins of religious instruction for a race that he characterizes as "neglected" among an unenlightened colonial population. Woodson describes the numerous sectarian movements that arose over the slave controversy, and details the establishment of the Colored Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal, and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Churches.

Following the Civil War, the church took on a new, more important role in the black community. Church organizations and benefactors both domestic and foreign helped establish schools and churches to educate the newly freed blacks. Woodson argues that the church served as a Chamber of Commerce, educational facility, and a social center. Additionally, the ministry was one of the highest stations to which a black leader could aspire; the visibility and education available to the clergy was notable in a community that was often denied opportunity. To emphasize this fact, Woodson includes numerous short biographies of church leaders who were instrumental in the development of various denominations or were significant members of the religious community.

Bryan Sinche

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