Most black denominations could not afford to establish large schools during the first two decades after the Civil War. Several associations, conferences, and local churches did establish small, usually poorly equipped and short- lived schools. Since most black schools met in churches during their early years due to the lack of schoolhouses, local congregations sometimes pressured the public school teacher to teach that church's doctrines to the students. If the teacher bowed to this pressure, the other local church or churches frequently sought to establish their own schools. If the teacher resisted, the denomination that first complained sometimes established a school to compete with the public school. 1
Although white denominations dispersed their money in the same way, the situation was more serious in the black community, which had less money and which received increasingly less money from white educational officials. This denominational devisiveness caused most of the leaders of the Alabama black normal schools to try to keep their schools strictly nondenominational. Several primary and normal school leaders also studiously avoided denominational involvement to appeal more successfully to Northern philanthropists.
The influence of black denominations, however, was not entirely negative. Several black denominations did work strenuously to establish schools and colleges in Alabama. Because of their close ties with the white Methodist Episcopal Church, which had begun a black school during Reconstruction, the blacks in the Central Alabama Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church decided to support Rust Normal Institute in 1880 instead of beginning their own school. Similarly, the black Congregationalists joined with their white brothers in supporting the nominally nondenominational AMA schools.