We’re Marching to Zion: The African American Church and Civic Engagement in Los Angeles from 1900 to 1950

“… of faith communities, from other racial groups to explore how their own church facilitates parishioners’ civic engagement in their communities. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Lorn Foster Pomona College Contact Me

About this project grant for researchers

African Americans who moved to Los Angeles from the east, north, and south were effectively cut off from their families and their traditional homes. Blacks in Los Angeles were not migrants; they were immigrants. They had to create their own, new, church and civic experiences. My book will explore civic engagement and eight African American “First Churches” of their denominations in Los Angeles. Importantly, my research will make extensive use of two previously-unexplored primary sources of information:

1) The archival collections of the eight First Churches. No other scholar has ever had access to these archives.

2) 65 oral histories that I have gathered from elderly people who were members of the eight churches before 1950.

I believe that the secular, as well as religious, role of the African American church in Los Angeles was in many ways unique and, to quote W.E.B. DuBois, “deserves especial study.”