African-American history month began as "Negro History Week" in 1926. Woodson settled on the second week in February because it fell between the birthdays of what he considered the two greatest Americans, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. From the start, there was a recognition that Black history was inseparably tied to American history.
In 1921, Woodson published a study entitled The History of the Negro Church (electronic version here). He outlined and explored the subject as follows:
I. --Early Missionaries and the Negro . . . . . 1
II. --The Dawn of the New Day . . . . . 23
III.-- Pioneer Negro Preachers . . . . . 40
IV. --The Independent Church Movement . . . . . 71
V.-- Early Development . . . . . 100
VI. --The Schism and the Subsequent Situation . . . . . 123
VII. --Religious Instruction Revived . . . . . 148
VIII. --Preachers of Versatile Genius . . . . . 167
IX.-- The Civil War and the Church . . . . . 185
X. -- Religious Education as a Preparation . . . . . 202
XI. --The Call of Politics . . . . 220
XII.-- The Conservative and Progressive . . . . . 247
XIII. --The Negro Church Socialized . . . . . 266
XIV. --The Recent Growth of the Negro Church . . . . . 286
XV. --The Negro Church of To-day . . . . . 300
Many African-American scholars took considered interest in the Black church, and found there tremendous resources for interpreting the African-American experience. Indeed, doomed is any attempt to understand the history and the ways of African Americans without understanding the predominantly Black church.
Off and on during the month of February, I hope to post some reflections on the history of the African-American church and the prospects for her future. These are reflections on God's glorious providence among a people within a people within in a people. For to discuss African-American Christianity is to focus on a Christian people belonging to the wider Christian family, and to reflect on a citizenry amongst a wider American commonwealth. The immersion and the emergence of African Americans in and from both milieus complicates and enriches the story of African Americans, Christians, and America. It's good for us to pause and reflect on the mysterious ways of God among His people. Thank you, Carter G. Woodson, for calling us to pause and reflect. May the Lord guide and make fruitful our meditations on His wondrous works of providence.