Catholicism and the African American

I’ve always had friends in New Orleans. Ever since I could remember. 98 percent of them were Catholics. I had never delved much into the association of African Americans in Louisiana and the Catholic Faith. Most African Americans I knew subscribed to Baptist, American Methodist, Pentecostal, so on and so forth. So what was up with my population of Friends in Louisiana subscribing to what I’ve always believed was a Faith mostly Europeans and Hispanic cultures believed in. But what I did not realize was the French had much to do with the culture that is now present in New Orleans

The French were involved in the Atlantic Slave Trade Centuries before a Yankee ever made it there. When the French formed the Colony of Louisiana the Colony default religion was Roman Catholicism. They slaves, free people of color, creoles, and all other Non Europeans were converted.There was not Freedom of Religion in the Louisiana Territory, only ONE Religion Roman Catholicism. It remained this way until the Napoleon’s sale of the Louisiana Territory to the US in 1803. Otherwise known as the Louisiana Purchase. After this was done, France’s cultural influence was so engrained into the Fabric of what Louisiana was; Roman Catholicism remained the religion of the ancestors of the Slaves, Free Colored People, and Creoles of the area. 

Xavier University the US’s only Roman Catholic HBCU has operated from the beginning of its time as a Catholic Institution for the African Americans. While the University welcomes all races AND religions, it was started as a Secondary Educational institution for the African American Catholic prevalent in Louisiana. The school is also has one of two Pharmacy Schools in Louisiana, And at the top of the list of graduation African American Undergrad Med Students. 

Some people are still surprised by the African American Catholic. Some people wonder why Catholicism and not any other religion. What is most obvious is that some of our religious beliefs were given to us by Europeans whether you claim Catholic or Baptist.


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