Racially segregated churches have existed in America since the country’s inception, and have lasted well into the post-slavery era and into the modern age. Before the American Civil War, churches in the U.S. were segregated both socially and legally.
By the 1830’s, many northern, white Christians had changed their views about slavery and felt that slavery contradicted many of the principles they had fought for during the American Revolutionary War.
After the 1870’s, more African Americans began forming their own churches, mainly because of unequal treatment in integrated churches. There were many examples of mistreatment of African Americans by white church leaders, including African Americans being asked to worship in segregated spaces and being served last during communion. A survey conducted of African American churchgoers in 1948 found many churches still remained quite segregated, although there were no longer overt rules mandating the separation of white and black parishioners. The survey found that 94% of African Americans were part of predominantly African American congregations.
At the beginning of the Civil Rights movement in the 1950’s, there was a push for integrated churches. However, due to white backlash against black progress, the majority of the efforts came to a stand still. Thankfully, during the Civil Rights movement, churches gave African American parishioners a place to unite on civil rights issues.
Mercury One was gifted this fan from a church parishioner in Nashville, TN, that was one of the few churches that persisted in integrated services during a time of great separation and strife in our nation’s history.
Source: Vischer, Robert K. “Racial Segregation in American Churches and Its Implications for School Vouchers.” Fla. L. Rev. 53 (2001): 193.
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