What is the role of the black church within the African American community?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although it is possible to argue that the black church is not as important as it once was, the church still holds a very important place in the African American community.

The black church has been extremely important ever since the end of slavery.  After slavery, African Americans still had little control of any aspect of their lives and they had little ability to participate in many areas of social and political life.  The church was different.  This was an area that was completely controlled by African Americans.  Therefore, many of the most energetic and talented African Americans went into the church.  It was because of this that so many black leaders were church people.  The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. is of course the most famous of these.

The church continues to be important in the black community today.  In many cases, it is still the major social institution that reaches the largest number of people.  It can help to try to reduce some of the problems that plague poor black communities.

The church, then, plays many roles.  It has, of course, a religious and spiritual role.  But it also plays a role in creating a sense of community for African Americans and in trying to maintain and create social order in poor communities.