Free blacks in the Antebellum period were quite outspoken about the injustice of slavery. Their ability to express themselves, however, was determined by whether they lived in the North or the South. Free Southern blacks continued to live under the shadow of slavery, unable to travel or assemble as freely as those in the North. It was also more difficult for them to organize and sustain churches. During the Antebellum period black churches, not just in the North, but throughout the nation, offered African Americans refuge from oppression and focused on the spiritual, secular, and political concerns of the black community. Following emancipation, the church continued to exist at the center of black community life. Free blacks merged their resources to build greater numbers of independent black churches which are symbols of African-American demands for independence.