Carter G. Woodson: History of the Negro Church: Ch.7 Religious Instruction Revived

Ah, let me get this over with. Most years I do Carter G. Woodson’s (father of Black History) Mis-Education of the Negro, his more popular book. Silly me decided, for the second year, tried to get through his History of Negro Church. I give up. This is not fun and it is the last of this year’s series. So I am going to get back to the stuff I love. I learned things, but it’s not an enjoyable read.

As many are aware it was illegal at some point in Southern States to teach slaves to read. Almost all Protestant denominations are biblically focused. Books, like the Bible, require the skill of reading.

Woodson beats up on the Episcopalians in the first part of the chapter because in his opinion they did a bad job of catechizing, and did not advocate for abolition. Woodson doesn’t mention, but I will, the Episcopalians have another book, the Book of Common Prayer. There’s a lot of reading.

Then he moves on to the Presbyterians. The frozen chosen were a tad better. They were interested in colonizing and missionary work using Black Americans. They established a training school, which later became the HBCU Lincoln University.  They also provided religious instruction verbally, which was a temporary fix.

Presbyterian pastors such as Rev. Josiah Law, who provided instruction to Georgian Blacks, discovered that some opposed even verbal instruction for fear that it would lead to desires for literary instruction.

Woodson seems to have liked the efforts of the Methodists and the Baptists. Some white Christians were enthusiastic in their faith and would teach their servants how to read the Bible. “General Coxe of Fluvanna County, Virginia, had all his slaves taught to read the Bible in spite of the law and public opinion to the contrary, and so did a farmer whom Frederick Law Olmsted visited in Mississippi.”