Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Black Churches in Texas: A Guide to Historzc Congregations. By Clyde McQueen.
Introduction by William E. Montgomery. (College Station: Texas A&M
University Press, 2000. Pp. xxv+253. Illustrations, tables, notes, bibliogra-
phy, index. ISBN 0-89096-902-7. $39.95, cloth.)
Given the present knowledge of those who study Texas, the South, and the
African American community, this reviewer believes it is almost redundant to
mention the importance of the church to the black community, for it was and is
central to the African American experience. There, blacks found respite during
the slave days. There, they found relief in their days of second-class citizenship
that stretched from the Reconstruction era to the modern civil rights revolution.
There, they discovered leaders who helped them in the 1950s and 196os in their
struggle to achieve the human rights that all Americans deserve. There, they still
find hope for the future while celebrating the gains of the recent past.
Despite the importance of the black church, until McQueen penned the vol-
ume considered here, no one had produced a compendium of the historic
African American churches of the Lone Star State. Intending to fill a gap in our
historical knowledge about black Texans, McQueen clearly states his aim: "The
purpose of this study [is] to trace the origins and development of black churches
founded in Texas during the nineteenth century" (p. xiv). Also important,
William E. Montgomery's introduction places McQueen's study in the larger
context of our nation's black history.
McQueen breaks his study into five chapters that focus on five regions:
Central, East, Gulf, North, and South Texas. He begins each section with a short
history of each of the regions. Then, within each region, information on churches
is grouped by counties and then by towns, with the towns being in alphabetical
order and with the churches presented in the order of their founding dates. The
author then gives the address of each church, the year in which the congrega-
tion was organized, and additional information on the development of most of
the churches listed.
The author scatters many tables throughout his study, and they are most help-
ful. For example, one learns that Baptists comprised 68.5 percent of church
denominations while Methodists comprised 30.7 percent. The former was
strongest in East and North Texas, while the latter was strongest in Gulf Coast
counties. Other Protestant denominations and the Catholic Church had almost
no representation in the black community.
In the past, researchers have relied mostly on denominational records and
oral histories for their spotty knowledge of black churches. Ignored in the past
and perhaps shuffled from box to box and from attic to attic, records of many of
the churches are lost to us forever, but in his compendium, McQueen does his
best to preserve what is left. Further, his endnotes section is most detailed,
wherein he divulges all his sources. A good index rounds out the study.
Historians of the black experience in Texas will find much of value in Black
Churches in Texas.
Oklahoma State Unzverszty
James M. Smallwood
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed April 18, 2014.