Should Black Christian Families Start their Own Communities?

Black Christian families are wanderers. 

We’re constantly searching for the right mix of peacefulness, wealth building, and good schools.

Even when we buy settle-down homes, many of us are still transferring our kids to different schools and daycares looking for the right fit. We bounce to different jobs looking for the right fit. We struggle to find church homes. 

We can’t live in counties where our businesses will be taxed to death and home costs will eat all your income. 

Some of us have tried to live in the hood to be a positive example, only to have our cars stolen and bullets come through our windows.  

We can’t live in liberal, anti-Christ communities where your kids will be victims of gun violence or be asked to pick their gender. 

We don’t want to live in conservative, anti-Black communities, where teaching Black history is offensive or our kids will be hunted down like escaped slaves.  

Black families have been searching for the right community since emancipation

Back in 1996, Chris Rock did a stand-up routine about Black people versus Ni….

I won’t link to it because there’s too much profanity.

Even though Chris Rock is a comedian, history backs him up. There have always been two distinct mindsets among Black American descendants of slaves. 

John Berry Meachum, who freed himself and his family from slavery, calls this out in 1846 as our country was approaching emancipation. Meachum warned that there are two types or Black people coming into freedom. 

John and Mary Meachum, Christ-followers, abolitionists, and freedom riders

Read John Berry Meachum’s Advice for Blacks Coming Out Of Slavery

John Berry Meachum and his wife Mary were devout Christians and abolitionists. They were born into slavery, but John purchased his family’s freedom at 21 years old. John and Mary started a school for Blacks in their church. When Missouri outlawed education for Blacks, they moved their school to a boat outside of state lines. As an entrepreneur and pastor, John Meachum purchased and freed other enslaved people. Before he died in 1854, Meachum wrote a pamphlet with clear instructions for Blacks coming out of slavery. Maybe now we’ll listen…

One is Mr. King Cure All. The other is Mr. Pull Down All:

  • Mr. King Cure All has a stable family, a business, integrity, he owns land and is a provider—and so are all his friends. 
  • Mr. Pull Down All is lazy and has nothing unless he steals it. He has a wife and children but doesn’t provide for them. He squanders everything he gets—and so do all his friends. 

Sociologist E Franklin Frazier noticed the same split when he studied census data on Black families back in the 1920s. As Black Americans were scattering across the country after emancipation, some pursued education, finding relatives, rebuilding their families, owning land, and serving in their churches. 

Others fell into every trap and vice available. They drifted from city to city, shacking up and breaking up with a new person each time. They were disconnected from their families and church communities. “Freed from every form of group control, he is the prey of vagrant impulses and lawless desires,” Franklin wrote in his book The Negro Family in Chicago, 1932.

These two mindsets formed two types of communities: peaceful ones and terrible ones. 

The successful families formed communities on the outskirts of Chicago away from the city. These communities had high rates of marriage, home ownership, literacy, and employment—the exact same factors that make any community successful today.

The drifters tended to gather in slums closer to the city’s downtown area. These communities sparked generations of broken families, juvenile delinquency, crime, and poverty. 

This split happened in Black destination cities all over the country between 1850 and 1930.

Tulsa wan’t the only Tulsa

This notion of like-minded Blacks self-segregating into their own towns isn’t new. 

We’ve heard about Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The narrative tends to focus on its tragic destruction by white supremacists and the US Government in 1921, but we don’t focus on how it started. A group of men got together to build a prosperous community for their families. 

The Hayti district in Durham, NC was one of several prosperous black communities that Blacks created after emancipation

The same happened with Hayti in Durham, NC. It was a thriving community. Booker T. Washington called it “a city of Negro enterprises” and a “shining examples of what a colored man may become.” But in the 1960s, the government concocted an “urban renewal” plan that bulldozed all the buildings, displaced 4000 families, destroyed 500 businesses, and never rebuilt anything. 

Photo caption: Between 1890-1940, Hayti was a district of Black-owned businesses, in Durham, NC. Courtesy of Durham County Library, NC Collection

In the early 1900s until about 1940, there were at least 100 other Black communities in the United States with a similar goal—let’s live together without them. 

Black Christian families are at a tipping point

We have to figure out where the heck we’re going to go. 

As our country moves toward a more blatant antichrist culture, we can’t continue to live in isolation from one another. We also can’t continue to integrate with people—Black or white—who are not committed to following Christ. We create what’s normal for our children by the communities we choose to live in. 

Latinos have done it. Gay couples have done it. Plenty of other groups have taken over a community and transformed it to reflect their values. 

Black families who are striving to follow Christ can do the same thing, even if it’s not in the United States. The first step is to learn from the historical events that shut down our efforts before. 

As my wife and I look for where our family might settle, we are thinking about our grandchildren and their wellbeing. We are looking for a community of believers that can help each other raise the next generation of Christ followers. 

And if there are no communities that fit, we need to build them—together. 

Scriptures about Christians living in community together

Psalm 133

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;

As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

Acts 2:38-47

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”  So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

1 Corinthians 1:10

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

Here is an example of a young real estate developer in Atlanta who has started a Black tiny home community.

And here’s another example of folks in Texas, who are not Black, but dared to start a tiny home community for themselves by themselves. 

We know there are some communities out there that are Christian friendly, family friendly, and business friendly. If you know of any communities that are good for Black, Christian families, please let us know in the comments:

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