Churches play a vital role in African American culture, and not just as houses of worship. They also stand at the center of the political, educational, and social lives of black Americans.
Clyde McQueen's interdenominational inventory of black churches surveys 375 churches organized between 1850 and 1886 and found in an area extending from present-day 1-35 east to Louisiana and from the Red River to the Gulf of Mexico, which were the regions of Texas where African Americans settled during the period studied.
Many of these churches were, ironically, organized by people who professed to be Christians yet deigned to own other human beings. A number of the pioneer black preachers were taught to read and write by slave owners. McQueen's research shows how these churches nonetheless became thriving centers of religion, independent civic and social life, and freedom.
McQueen provides for each congregation the year it was organized, the county and town where it is located, an address or directions for finding it, and any other history available. All of this is based on information McQueen gathered from interviews, church bulletins, special church programs, historical markers, and building cornerstones.
The catalog is enhanced by photographs of sixty-four of the churches surveyed, and an introduction by William E. Montgomery places McQueen's work in broader historical perspective.
Historians will find this first documented treatment of the formation of black churches in Texas an indispensable contribution to a little-known but important field of Texas and African American history. All readers can use the guide to visit places of historic interest around the state.