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Bailey to speak on Alabama’s ‘19th Century Black Churches’

Richard Bailey, Ph.D., a member of the Alabama Humanities Foundation’s Road Scholars Speakers Bureau, will present “Rock in a Weary Land: The Black Church in 19th Century Alabama” on February 16, at 12:00 p.m., at the Demopolis Public Library.

During days of slavery and freedom, the black church was the most significant institution in the black community. In the midst of slavery, blacks were allowed to worship in segregated galleries of white churches or to hold separate worship under white supervision. Still the antebellum church played a crucial role in black life. The black minister was the center point of the black church. His myriad roles included teacher, lawgiver, counselor, and psychologist and whatever else were needed in the black community. Thus, he was the most highly regarded personality in the black community. In essence, persons and institutions of affluence in nineteenth century Alabama owed a huge debt of gratitude of the influence of the black church. The presentation showcases the wide influence of the nineteenth-century black church in Alabama. Attendees will receive a bibliography, a list of church-related schools, a list showing denominational history, and photos of several historic black churches. To its credit, the black church also participated in politics and educational concerns. Indeed, it played a crucial role in the establishment of the Alabama Republican party and the establishment of black schools, with some of these schools later bearing the names of colleges or universities.

To read about more Road Scholar Speakers Bureau presentations, visit www.alabamahumanities.org.

Since returning to Montgomery, Dr. Bailey has been a consultant for the Center for Public Television at The University of Alabama, where he was a consultant for their productions on the Lincoln School of Marion and Reconstruction black officeholders. For the Division of Telecommunication and Educational Television at Auburn University, Bailey was an advisor for the Gee’s Bend story and the Horace King documentary. He was a consultant for the award-winning radio documentary, “Remembering Slavery,” produced by the Institute for Language and Culture at the University of Montevallo. In the mid-1980s, Gov. George C. Wallace appointed him twice to the De Soto Commission to reconstruct the path of the Spanish explorer through Alabama. Kiosks along select Alabama highways identify the route of De Soto.

Dr. Bailey received a joint fellowship to travel and study in Europe and African from Cleveland (Ohio) State University and the University of Massachusetts. Kansas State University awarded him the doctor of philosophy degree in American history. He speaks regularly at grade schools, colleges, and universities and has appeared on radio and television to discuss genealogy, Alabama and American history, and election returns.

Guests may bring a lunch or call the Demopolis Public Library at 334-289-1595 to reserve a $7 plate lunch. The Friends of the Library will provide drinks and dessert.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, February 7 issue of the Demopolis Times.)