Quinnipiac University

Professor writes book on role of African Methodist Episcopal Church in westward expansion and migration

January 11, 2022

Headshot of Christina Dickerson

Christina Dickerson, assistant professor of history at Quinnipiac, has written a book, “Black Indians and Freedmen: The African Methodist Episcopal Church and Indigenous Americans, 1816-1916.”

The book analyzes the role of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in westward expansion and migration. Formerly enslaved people founded the AME Church in 1816. Often seen as ethnically monolithic, the denomination in fact successfully pursued evangelism among diverse communities of indigenous peoples and Black Indians, according to Dickerson.

Dickerson tells the little-known story of the AME Church’s work in Indian territory, where African Methodists engaged with people from the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasawsand Seminoles) and Black Indians with various ethnic backgrounds.

“I am really proud of the book, and I hope it adds further nuance to our discussion of Black history and Native American history. We often study these histories separately,” Dickerson said. “There is a lot of overlap, though, and they are very much interconnected.”

Dickerson, who joined Quinnipiac in 2017, holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Spelman College in Atlanta and earned master’s and doctoral degrees in history at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Prior to Quinnipiac, she taught history at Cumberland County College in Vineland, New Jersey and at Gateway Community College in New Haven.

Dickerson teaches U.S. history, African American history, and Native American history at Quinnipiac and serves as the faculty adviser for Quinnipiac University’s Indigenous Student Union.

“Black Indians and Freedmen: The African Methodist Episcopal Church and Indigenous Americans, 1816-1916” was published by the University of Illinois Press.

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