Just an "OK" History

Originally Posted 12/3/2006

What makes a history book good, and what makes it excellent? This is something I was thinking about as I read The History of Black Catholics in the United States by Cyprian Davis. It is a good history that tells a through and detailed story of the history of black Catholics, but it is not excellent. The majority of Davis’ attention is spent on the role and actions of leadership with the back Catholics and the leadership in the Catholic church. It seemed that Davis was more concerned with the acceptance, or lack of, the evangelization, or lack of, and the integration, or lack of, of black Catholics with the larger Catholic movement in America. What I found missing was a story of the Catholics who joined and stayed with the Catholics. How did it feel to be isolated from White America due to race, and isolated from Black America due to religion? Did Black Catholics face the same kind of persecution and suspicion that white Catholics faced from Protestants? These are questions that Davis neglected to answer. It is good to tell the story of Black Catholics, but the surface has only been scratched by Davis. We have a good history book, why not an excellent one?