Churches for African Americans during segregation was not just a place where people went to find God. In the African American churches it was a meeting place for the community to come together to figure out how to make the world a better place, it was a place for those to feel safe at, it was a place of power.
Many organizations, political leaders, and town meetings would be held in black churches. The focus of these meetings were most often over social issues. For many African American individuals who wanted to go into the religious field the whites were not pleased about working and learning with one another.
With power comes responsibility, and in the black community it was the preachers who sat on the high thrown. Many did great actions and contributions with their influence on the community. However, some used their leverage to keep the town clam for a price.
“Churches were the major centers of power in the black community. They still are, though not to the extent that they were then. So inevitably the churches were involved… There were all kinds of organizations and there were many many leaders; teachers, preachers, undertakers.”
– Commissioner Roy C. Brooks
“I still don’t see that resistance in Fort Worth like I did in Dallas. We had no John Wiley Price, I know you’ve heard of him, resist. It was more like these, I don’t know who they were, what they did was they got certain Baptist preachers to influence people and keep them calm. Como was going to have a riot once, and the first thing they did was go to the black preachers and they calmed them down and it didn’t happen. So if the Baptist preachers would have been like Baptist preachers in Montgomery it would have been a different thing. The leaders as it were called the mayor and all that would go to the black ministers and get them to control.”
– Marjorie Crenshaw
This is a photo of the Mount Pisgah Missonary Baptist Church today where interviewee Pastor Nehemiah Davis preaches. NAACP meetings were held in this building during segregation to come up with solutions to get schools better integrated.