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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 December 2019

Dennis C. Dickerson
Affiliation:
Vanderbilt University, Tennessee
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Summary

In 1903 W. E. B. Du Bois, hardly a denominational partisan, described “the great African Methodist Church” as “the greatest Negro organization in the world.” Only the National Baptist Convention, recently organized in 1896, exceeded the half million membership that the African Methodist Episcopalians claimed. But the Baptists, an aggregation of autonomous state conventions and local congregations, lacked the hierarchal structure of this black Methodist body. The bishops, presiding elders, pastors, and many other officials of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church forged a cohesive infrastructure that proved to doubtful whites that African Americans were fully capable of effective self-governance. In addition to Du Bois’ praise for the institutional achievements of the AME Church, he was equally impressed with its longevity. Already a century old at the time of Du Bois’ comments, African Methodism had become a venerable religious body with bishops who were “among the most powerful Negro rulers in the world.” In 2004, Gayraud S. Wilmore, a Presbyterian and an African American religious intellectual, confirmed Du Bois’ descriptions of the AME Church and called it “America’s premier … predominantly black denomination.”1

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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  • Introduction
  • Dennis C. Dickerson, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee
  • Book: The African Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Online publication: 20 December 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781139017930.002
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  • Introduction
  • Dennis C. Dickerson, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee
  • Book: The African Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Online publication: 20 December 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781139017930.002
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Dennis C. Dickerson, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee
  • Book: The African Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Online publication: 20 December 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781139017930.002
Available formats
×