The Black Church: A Place and Space for 19th-Century Black Political Activism

Thursday, January 4, 2018: 2:10 PM
Columbia 6 (Washington Hilton)
Denise Burgher, University of Delaware
The Colored Convention Project has revealed and centralized the seminal role of the Black church in Black political activism in the nineteenth century. Though the civil rights movement is strongly connected to the Black church and rightfully understood as a signal era of American religious history, the colored conventions movement and the its deep connections to the Black church has been largely forgotten. Heretofore historically unremembered, Black intellectual communities thrived and developed in and through the physical places and sacred spaces of the Black church. Though ostensibly a secular phenomenon, the colored convention movement evolved out of the organizational and ideological structures of the Black church in ways that do not mimic Black church practices, rituals and ideologies but complicate and extend them into the intellectual and civic realm. This paper will argue that the Black church, through the colored conventions movement was able to express a radical form of Black citizenship by engaging with the state and the Black nation in multiple ways which precede and inform the modern civil rights movement and contemporary struggles for social justice constituting a critically important aspect of American religious history.