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"The literature on the religious lives of Black Americans is filled with undocumented and often ahistorical generalizations. The aim of this study is to develop a model for studying the role of churches and religion among blacks in particular localities during various periods of American history. The author is convinced that until similar local studies are conducted in a number of specific localities in different regions and time periods historically valid interpretations of the place of religion and churches in black life will not emerge. It is acknowledged that fully valid comparative statements will have to draw on studies of the religious situation among other American racial and cultural groups within the same regions and time periods"--Introduction.