Praying Grounds: African American Faith Communities

A Documentary and Oral History

Praying Grounds graphic

A Project of the Initiative for the Study of Religion and Spirituality in the History of Africa and the Diaspora (RASHAD)

Message from the Founder and Director

"More than a century after the publication of The Souls of Black Folk...the church remains at the center of African American social life. However, like other aspects of social history, much of the history of religious institutions is “disappearing beneath our feet,” because not enough is being done to collect and preserve the primary evidence of the work of the church and to make this archival information available to established and budding 21st-century scholars. Praying Grounds: African American Faith Communities promises to help address this problem through the collection and preservation of archival material related to the history of these institutions in Greater Cleveland..." Dr. Regennia N. Williams (Read the entire essay)

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The Negro Church of Today... ...is the social center of Negro life in the United States . . . Various organizations meet here, --the church proper, the Sunday-School, two or three insurance societies, women's societies, secret societies, and mass meetings of various kinds. Entertainments, suppers, and lectures are held beside the five or six regular weekly religious services. Considerable sums of money are collected and expended here, employment is found for the idle, strangers are introduced, news is disseminated and charity distributed. At the same time this social, intellectual, and economic center is a religious center of great power.

— W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903