Baptists and the American Civil War: October 4, 1865

Civil War Era Missouri Map

Civil War Era Missouri Map

This month the Missouri Equal Rights League is formed in the Eighth Street Colored Baptist Church of St. Louis. It is one of many state colored organizations established this year and designed to ensure that African Americans obtain voting rights and other legal freedoms. The establishment of good schools for black children is also a concern of the Missouri league.

Black churches often serve as community centers for African Americans, their autonomous nature, large membership and theological freedom convictions empowering black citizens to strive for the basic human rights that white citizens, across the South and, sometimes, in pockets of the North, do not wish to allow.

For three years the Missouri Equal Rights League works hard and in the face of great opposition to achieve its goals of black suffrage, education and equal rights in general.

However, white Missourians resist allowing blacks the right to vote. Although the 1867 Missouri legislature proposes opening suffrage to black citizens, white Missourians the following year defeat the legislation. Two more years pass before black Missourians gain the right to vote through the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Source: John Aaron Wright, Discovering African American St. Louis: A Guide to Historic Sites, St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press, 2002, p. 15 (link)