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Article

Kerima M. Lewis

The African American members of the First Baptist Church in New York City withdrew their membership in 1808 when they were subjected to racially segregated seating. With Ethiopian merchants they organized their own church, called “Abyssinian” after the merchants’ nation of origin. The church was located at 44 Anthony Street, and the Reverend Vanvelser was its first pastor. Abyssinian numbered three hundred members in 1827 when slavery ended in New York. The Reverends William Spellman, Robert D. Wynn, and Charles Satchell Morris served as pastors during the church's early history. By 1902 the church was a renowned place of worship with more than sixteen hundred members.

The appointment of the Reverend Adam Clayton Powell Sr. in 1908 ushered in a new era of the church's history. His pastorate was devoted to spiritual and financial development. In 1920 he acquired property in Harlem and then oversaw the building ...

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Scott Alves Barton

Evidence of African, African American influence in food and foodways begins in the seventeenth century in the New York colony’s Dutch and British “Meal Market” that operated from 1655 to 1762 on Wall Street and the East River where enslaved Africans were also sold. Men, women, and children worked as market vendors of prepared foods like hot corn, fresh produce, oysters, fish, livestock, and as dairymen and -women selling cheeses, butter, and milk in local markets. In addition, the African Burial Ground’s archaeology of colonial privies identifies products such as Brazil nuts, coconut, and watermelon that were not native to New York or Europe. Colonizers may have imported some these goods, but the enslaved would have known how to process or raise them (Cheek and Roberts, 2009; Berlin 1996; Burrows and Wallace 1999 At the same time West African women cooking in elite white colonial and ...

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In 1786, Richard Allen, an African American Methodist, began serving as a lay preacher at St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church, a Philadelphia congregation where both whites and blacks worshiped. Allen was a former slave from Delaware who had joined the Evangelical Wesleyan movement because of its work against slavery and he eventually became a licensed Methodist preacher. The efforts of Allen—along with those of Absalom Jones, another African American lay preacher—brought a large influx of blacks to the church, and a balcony was constructed to accommodate the growing congregation. In November 1787 (some sources indicate a date of 1792 Allen Jones and other black worshipers were directed toward the newly built seating gallery but unknowingly sat in the lower section During a prayer a white trustee told Jones to move immediately to the balcony When Jones asked to finish the prayer he was refused Jones Allen ...

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Sylvia Frey and Thomas E. Carney

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, from its founding in the mid-eighteenth century through1895. The first article provides a discussion of its relationship with its parent church and reasons for its breakaway while the second article also includes discussion of the ...

Article

Since Methodism first emerged in colonial America, it has consistently attracted African American adherents. According to religious scholar Alfred J. Raboteau, “the direct appeal, dramatic preaching, and plain doctrine of the Methodists, their conscious identification with the ‘simpler sort,’ and especially their antislavery beliefs” drew blacks to the church. Indeed, African Americans had been members of New York City's John Street Methodist Church since its founding in 1768. By 1793 black membership increased to 40 percent of John Street's congregation.

Still, African Americans within the John Street Church—and within American Methodism in general—were treated as second-class citizens. They were denied ordination, forced to sit in segregated pews, and limited in their access to the Methodist itinerant clergy and the Communion table. Frustrated by such treatment, two black John Street members, Peter Williams, and William Miller, founded the African Chapel in 1796 The chapel was later ...

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Frank Towers

African Union Methodism originated in 1813 in Wilmington, Delaware, as one of several independent black Protestant denominations established in the early Republic in reaction to the racism of white-dominated churches. The pioneers of African Union Methodism first met as members of Wilmington's Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church, established in 1789. Its namesake was Francis Asbury, a leader in the spread of Methodism in late-eighteenth-century America. Asbury, an Englishman, opposed slavery and sought out African American converts. Half of Asbury's congregation would eventually comprise blacks; they were encouraged by both Asbury himself, who occasionally preached in Wilmington, and by Harry Hosier, a popular African American preacher who also ministered to Delaware Methodists.

Despite the church s gracious admission of African American members white Methodists at Asbury Church still discriminated against blacks in church affairs By the 1790s white Methodists in general had backed away from their earlier support for emancipation ...

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Kerima M. Lewis

The long and illustrious history of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church dates back to the eighteenth century. The founder Richard Allen, a former slave who had been able to purchase his freedom and was an ordained Methodist minister, was assigned to Saint George's Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, where he was allowed to preach to blacks. When in November 1787 several black church members, including Absalom Jones, were pulled from their knees while praying, all the black worshippers left Saint George's to form a church of their own. The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was established in Philadelphia in 1793 and opened in July 1794. In 1816 Richard Allen united black Methodist congregations from the greater Philadelphia area founding the African Methodist Episcopal Church he was elected the first bishop during the new church s first General Conference The Book of Discipline Articles of Religion ...

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Kerima M. Lewis

The African Methodist Episcopal Church Review (AME Church Review) has the distinction of being the oldest magazine owned and published by African Americans. The denomination's first periodical, the African Methodist Episcopal Church Magazine, appeared in September 1841. The General Conference that met in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1884 changed the name of this periodical to the AME Church Review. The AME Church saw a need for a scholarly magazine to complement its Christian Recorder, which had been published as a weekly newspaper since 1852. Headquarters for the magazine was set up in Philadelphia, and Bishop Benjamin Tucker Tanner was appointed the first editor-manager.

As a quarterly magazine the Review was not limited to the news and business of the AME Church but provided thought-provoking, intellectual, and scholarly articles. The first issue of the AME Church Review appeared in July 1884 with the lead ...

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Kerima M. Lewis

When Methodism arrived in New York State in 1766, it welcomed blacks into its Christian fellowship. As the Methodist Church expanded it became increasingly discriminatory toward African Americans. After years of ill treatment, in 1796 the 155 black members of the John Street Methodist Episcopal Church in New York City formed a separate church. Although incorporated in 1821 under the name African Methodist Episcopal Church in America, the church was never affiliated with the denomination of the same name organized in 1816 by Richard Allen in Philadelphia. Zion was the name of the New York denomination's first chapel, built in 1801. The AME Zion Church adhered to the doctrines of the Methodist Episcopal Church and adopted an episcopal form of government.

The AME Zion denomination grew as churches were added in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Their affiliation with the Methodist Episcopal Church ended when James Varick ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Initially called the American Society for Colonizing the Free People of Color in the United States, the American Colonization Society (ACS) was formed by a group of Presbyterian ministers. The organization's chief objective was to encourage free blacks (and later manumitted slaves) to emigrate to West Africa.

To its audience of free blacks, the organization depicted emigration as an opportunity for African Americans to introduce education and Christianity to their African brethren. In contrast, to Southern whites reading its official newsletter, the African Repository (1825–1909), the ACS portrayed black emigration as a solution to the growing prevalence of free blacks, a population that many Southern whites feared would disrupt the system of slavery. As the ACS grew, the prominence of its members and supporters also grew. Among them were Presidents Abraham Lincoln, James Madison, and James Monroe and United States Supreme Court Justice Bushrod Washington ...

Article

Douglas R. Egerton and Judith Mulcahy

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the American Colonization Society from its establishment in1817 through 1895. The first article discusses reactions and controversy related to the society until1830, while the second article includes discussion of debates within the free black community and attacks on ...

Article

L. Diane Barnes

Founded in December 1816, the American Colonization Society (ACS) was the first national organization to take on the problem of slavery in the United States. The ACS proposed an expatriation scheme to rid the nation of slavery and of free African Americans. The prominent founders Charles Fenton Mercer, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and others secured federal funding and in 1822 founded the colony of Liberia on Africa's west coast as the destination for America's blacks.

Even before the founding of the ACS, the colonization of African Americans was an issue that divided both whites and blacks. Some African Americans supported colonization, arguing that free blacks would never be fully included in the white-dominated society of the United States. Others argued just as forcibly that blacks were entitled to full rights as American citizens and should remain to fight on behalf of their race.

The ACS drew ...

Article

Kate Tuttle

The roots of Americo-Liberian society can be traced to modern Liberia's settlement by free American blacks. From their arrival on the coast of West Africa in 1821, the settlers and their sponsors at the American Colonization Society (ACS), a white abolitionist group, had a complex relationship with the people who were already living there. The settlers brought with them American social, political, and economic values (as expressed in the first constitution of the Commonwealth, later the Republic, of Liberia). They were also strongly influenced by the ACS's ties to the Christian missionary movement. The motives of both white abolitionists and African American colonizers were challenged by critics such as the nineteenth-century African American writer Martin Delany, who charged that the ACS, in “deporting” free blacks, was helping to sustain the practice of Slavery in the United States Furthermore these critics noted the black settlers were establishing a ...

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Anthony Pinn

Atheism by definition is a philosophy or life strategy that denies the existence of God (or gods) and instead relies on human reason to address life issues. Lacking the same level of certainty, agnosticism holds open the question of God's existence (as well as other religious beliefs) based on the assumption that there is no way to know for certain.

Although a large percentage of African Americans are committed to theism in some form, both atheism and agnosticism have had a long presence in African American communities. Atheism and agnosticism within African American communities have been presented and debated in numerous arenas, all of which reflect the cultural worlds in and by means of which African Americans live. These cultural worlds include: religion, the arts, and politics.

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Darlene Clark Hine

Anna Julia Cooper, in what is considered the first black feminist text, A Voice from the South (1892), declared, “As our Caucasian barristers are not to blame if they cannot quite put themselves in the dark man’s place, neither should the dark man be wholly expected fully and adequately to reproduce the exact Voice of the black Woman.” African American women have written autobiographies since the 1700s. Today, the many forms of autobiography—memoirs, essays, notes, diaries, advice, and self-help—constitute one of the most important genres in black writing.

Some of the most exciting and dynamic work written at the beginning of the twenty first century focused attention on the social history of black women These autobiographical writings both outside and within the academy occupied in a sense the frontier sites of public discourse concerning certain private life issues and social policies that were important to the reconstruction ...

Article

Casey-Leininger Charles F.

Avondale is a neighborhood of the city of Cincinnati located northeast of the city's central business district. The 2010 US Census reported that Avondale had a population of 12,466 of which 89 percent identified as African American only, 7 percent identified as white only, and the remainder reported some other race or combination of races. Between about 1945 and 1965 the neighborhood was the scene of a massive population shift that saw its middle- and upper middle-class white population replaced by middle- and lower-income African Americans. During this period the neighborhood also became an important center of the city's African American cultural and political life.

Today Avondale is one of the poorest and most distressed neighborhoods in the city. Its poverty rate, calculated from the US Census Bureau's 2005–2009 American Community Survey ACS was 37 5 percent and 44 percent of its working age population had no employment In ...

Article

Jill Dupont

When the movie Barbershop hit theaters in 2002, it offered audiences and critics a rare glimpse into the lives and conversations of ordinary black men and women. Though the movie was not a documentary, the tenor of the discussions it projected, as well as the topics debated, offered a realistic portrait of what some scholars have considered to be the everyday talk of African Americans. Indeed, one particular character's garrulous rant about the foibles of revered figures such as the activists Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jesse Jackson led to vigorous protests from the minister and activist Al Sharpton and Jackson himself, though others argued that if one were not free to speak his mind in a barbershop, where could he speak freely?

Barbershops have a long history in African American communities as businesses and spaces where black men have gathered to speak openly both ...