So What’s the Deal with Segregation Anyway?: Why There is a Black Church

July 13, 2010

One of my first posts was a response pertaining to Van Biema’s The Color of Faith where he covered integration in the megachurch, and rallied for future integration in the church in general. 

What Van Biema does not talk about is why certain races may need their own church.  One of my future professors gave me a talk about the history of the black church and the impact it has on him and his family.  For the African American, the black church is the only institution they founded on their own in the United States, and is thus a source of pride to them.  Reverend Richard Allen, in 1816, started the AME Church after he was pushed out of a white church for sitting in the front pew.  He started preaching at the blacksmith’s shop, later founding the AME Church and stressing the importance of education and literacy, as well as opening the church to people of all races,  African Americans and all others.

My professor told me that his children attend primarily Caucasian schools, and one of his concerns is that he does not want them to lose touch with the African American community, especially in a nation that increasingly teaches his children not to act like African Americans.  When his children eventually enter the real world, his desire is that they not only to be aware of their heritage but to also feel comfortable in the African American society.

I read an article in Baltimore written by an African American poli-sci professor in Johns Hopkins.  He wrote about the exhausting work of “navigating white spaces” where he had to be doubly concious of how he acted, talked, and how his children behaved out in public.  But when he was with other African Americans, he wrote that he could “breathe” and “be himself.”   

This is not to encourage in any way for different races to stay in their respective cubicles.  I just wanted to take the time to share that for some, their church and communities are a haven where they can belong without the pressure of having to act different to be accepted. 

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