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Secular, Scarred and Sacred

Education and Religion Among the Black Community in Nineteenth-Century Canada

Jerome Teelucksingh

Secular, Scarred and Sacred: Education and Religion Among the Black Community in Nineteenth-Century Canada focuses on the paternal yet exclusionary role of Protestant Whites and their churches among refugee slaves and free Blacks in nineteenth-century Upper Canada—many of whom had migrated to Canada to escape the dreaded system of slavery in the United States. This book contends that White Protestant churches provided organizational, social and theological models among Black communities in Canada. Author Jerome Teelucksingh further explores how Black migrants seized the educational opportunities offered by churches and schools to both advance academically and pursue an ideal of virtuous citizenship that equipped them for new social challenges.

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Chapter 3: The Church’s Role in Education


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I will give them a good education, which I could not do in the southern portion of the United States. True they were not slaves there, but I could not have given them any education.1

During the nineteenth century, education was increasingly influential in the lives of Blacks. Armed with literacy and knowledge, the Blacks became responsible and respected leaders in their churches. Education was one of keys in unlocking the potential of Blacks and enabled them to successfully establish their own churches and thus be assimilated into Canadian society. Among Black communities the White Protestant churches were representative of the protective element of the Blacks. As a result of this emphasis on the importance of education by secular and religious institutions, the Blacks seemed keen on seeking an education. By offering a mixture of religious and secular education the Protestant church hoped to create morally and intellectually sound individuals. Indeed, education, particularly in the mission schools, where differences between the races were minimized, was a crucial socializing factor. Education through the church provided Blacks with a golden opportunity to improve as they brought themselves closer to the ideal of virtuous citizens and thus better equipped for new social challenges. ← 37 | 38 →

One of the main factors contributing to the church’s educational role was the denial of education among Blacks in the United States. The restrictions of slave masters made Blacks more...

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