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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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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

Kate Tuttle

In 1990 the South African government reversed its long ban on various black organizations, such as the African National Congress (ANC), the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), and the South African Communist Party (SACP). It also freed Nelson Mandela, the ANC leader who had been imprisoned since 1962, and began negotiations that eventually replaced white minority rule with electoral democracy and equal rights for all South Africans. As dramatic as these events were, they represented not a sudden reversal but rather the results of a long, complicated history of many individuals and groups that fought against South Africa's official policy of Apartheid. Apartheid—the name comes from the Dutch word expressing “apartness”—refers to the vast web of laws and regulations which restricted the rights and opportunities of South Africa's black majority, as well as its “nonwhite” minorities. It was imposed in the years after the National Party first came ...

Article

Jeffrey Green

Civil servant and author born in British Guiana (now Guyana). He became postmaster at Victoria‐Belfield in the 1890s, where he organized a black self‐help group with social and agricultural ambitions. He transferred to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) Post Office in 1902. With his wife, Caroline, and five children he settled in Acton, west London. Three more children were born, but five (and their mother) were dead by 1919, and in 1920, in London, he married Edith Goring (who was born in Barbados and had taught in the Gold Coast, 1906–20).

Barbour‐James'sAgricultural and Industrial Possibilities of the Gold Coast was published in London in 1911. In 1917 he retired from the colonial postal service, and he worked with the African Progress Union from 1918 (his friend Kwamina Tandoh was president from 1924 to 1927 accompanied South African delegates to meet the Prime Minister ...

Article

Jonathan Morley and Cassandra Adjei

City with historic links to the slave trade. The first guns to be exported to Africa in 1698 were manufactured in Birmingham, renowned for its metalworking; this triggered a growth in the city's industries, and by 1766, 100,000 guns a year were shipped, as well as other tools of the slave trade: manacles, chains, branding irons, thumbscrews, pincers, muzzles, and instruments for prising open the mouths of recalcitrant slaves to make them eat. Cheaply made flintlock muskets, the guns were often dangerous to their users, and contributed to the militarization of the continent: it has been estimated that 20 million went to Africa by 1907.

The city's Lunar Society (a group of freethinkers and radicals) included members who were vehement abolitionists. Thomas Day, from Lichfield, was co‐author with Joseph Bicknell of the poem The Dying Negro (1773 a famous tract that spoke of a ...

Article

Boston  

Carolyn Wedin

Boston has long described itself as “The Cradle of Liberty.” But in the late nineteenth century and into the twentieth, pressures of national events, immigration, and the migration of African Americans from the rural South forced Boston to make adjustments to no longer being America's most important urban center and to deal with becoming less a cradle than a hotbed of racial and ethnic conflict.

Before 1895, most of Boston's black population lived in the West End, the area now called the North Slope of Beacon Hill. The first arrivals in 1638 were slaves, by the end of the Revolutionary War outnumbered by free blacks. The first federal census in 1790 showed Massachusetts as the only state with no slaves. After 1895, large numbers of African Americans began moving to the South End. By 1900, 30 percent of the black population lived there, and by 1914 ...

Article

Bristol  

Madge Dresser

City in the south‐west of England whose importance to black history is firmly established by its long‐term involvement in the transatlantic slave economy, by its subsequent links to the North American anti‐slavery movement, and by the developments affecting its relatively small black population since the 1960s.

1.Bristol and the ...

Article

Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) was the most well-known African American of the nineteenth century. His legacy as an antislavery and human rights activist persists well into the twenty-first century. During his lifetime, Douglass embodied the famed self-made man. Beginning his life at the very bottom of American society, Douglass became a celebrated abolitionist and humanitarian, a somewhat less successful bank president, and a Republican politician. Although his antebellum era activities are the most well known, after 1865 Douglass held office as marshal and later recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia. In 1889 he became the second African American appointed as U.S. minister to Haiti. Because he was an eloquent writer and orator, he gained much public attention during his lifetime and provided subsequent generations with a chance to better know and understand him.

Born on a Talbot County, Maryland, plantation in February 1818 Douglass spent his ...

Article

Exeter  

Lucy MacKeith

City with a low black population, but a good example of the historical presence of Blacks in areas outside the major port cities, an indication of how omnipresent they were in Britain from the 17th century onwards.

Parish registers provide examples such as the burial on 4 February 1631 at St Mary Major of ‘Thomas, sonne of a Blackamore’; the baptisms on 16 February 1689 at St Stephen's of ‘Mary Negro, black’, on 9 April 1735 of ‘Charles English, negro’, and on 4 December 1778 of ‘Thomas Walker, a black boy’; and the burial on 8 May 1791 of ‘Robert Hill, black, a servant at the Devon and Exeter Hospital’.

A contemporary broadsheet in November 1668 gives details of ‘200 blacks brought from the plantations of the Netherlands in America’, part of the procession led by William of Orange on his way to claim the throne in London. On 22 ...

Article

Ula Y. Taylor

As both an analytical tool and a political paradigm, black feminisms—referred to here in the plural because there is no one feminism—are fluid and diverse, focusing in various ways on the convergence of race, gender, sexuality, class, spirituality, and culture. This diversity is often oversimplified in an effort to provide a single, coherent picture.

The primary expressions of black feminism in the United States are marked by three distinct periods or waves that are directly connected to, and grew out of, key movements in African American history: the abolitionist movement, which culminated with the suffragists’ securing passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920; the modern civil rights and black power movements, which peaked with the enforcement, during the 1970s, of Title VII and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the post Civil Rights era that helped to usher in the professionalization and institutionalization of ...

Article

Mary C. Carruth

Although Angelina Weld Grimké's writings appeared in many leading publications of the Harlem Renaissance, such as Alain Locke's The New Negro (1925), Countee Cullen's Caroling Dusk (1927), and Charles S. Johnson's Ebony and Topaz (1927), she was not a highly visible member of the literary movement, perhaps because of her retiring personality. The product of a biracial marriage, Grimké grew up in the progressive, aristocratic society of old Boston. Named for her white great-aunt, Angelina Grimké Weld, the famous abolitionist and advocate of women's rights, young Angelina was reared by her devoted but demanding father, Archibald Grimké, the son of Charleston aristocrat Henry Grimké, and his slave, Nancy Weston. Angelina's white mother, Sarah Stanley Grimké separated from her father in Angelina s early childhood presumably because of mental and physical illness Angelina s family background informed ...

Article

Haiti  

Charles Rosenberg

A nation on the western end of the island of Española (Hispaniola) in the Caribbean Sea, Haiti was formed from the territory of the French colony of Saint-Domingue and was the first independent republic in the Western Hemisphere ruled by an African-descended majority. Emerging from a complex series of wars in 1791–1804 that abolished slavery and then repulsed Napoleon's attempt to reinstate it, Haiti has been a beacon to African Americans and abolitionists from its foundation. Ties to the United States and to its struggle against slavery are reflected in the street names Avenue John Brown, Avenue Frederick Douglass, and Avenue Martin Luther King Jr. in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Brown's execution in 1859 was observed in Haiti with three days of national mourning and a solemn mass in the cathedral, at which President Fabre Geffrard spoke. Douglass served as U.S. minister resident and consul general to Haiti in 1889–1891 ...

Article

Jon-Christian Suggs

Between 1880 and the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1910, African Americans lived through a time of increasing oppression and disenfranchisement, a time that the black sociologist Rayford Logan called “the Nadir.” Nevertheless, African American literature regained some of its antebellum vitality during this time, moving gradually away from the autobiographical narrative and toward a wider range of literary and cultural production.

Article

Jean M. Borgatti

Massachusetts—predominantly white, with an African American population in 2006 of less than 7 percent—has a peculiar history of liberalism and racism. When the first federal census was enumerated in 1790, Massachusetts was the only member of the Union to record no slaves, having abolished the institution in 1788, seventy-five years earlier than the nation as a whole. Citizens both black and white were prominent in the abolitionist movement, and Massachusetts has no record of lynching.

By 1855 the state had desegregated its schools by law, though segregation—particularly noticeable in education, with consequent ramifications for human and economic development—reemerged in the early twentieth century and persisted until the mid-1970s, especially in urban areas where the African American population is concentrated. Despite the racism underlying the economic and educational problems of the black community in Boston, Massachusetts was the first state to elect an African American, Edward Brooke by ...

Article

Lucy MacKeith

One of the many ports on Devon's two coasts through which black people passed in and out of all parts of the country. The city has long‐term connections with the history of people of African descent, most of the earlier connections being because of the transatlantic slave trade. The now famous print of the Brookes slave ship used in the abolition campaign was originally produced for the Plymouth Committee for Abolition. The initiator of the British slave trade, Sir John Hawkins, was born in Plymouth, where he has been long recognized as a significant figure. However, the part that Africans and their descendants played in the city's history, directly and indirectly, has not been sufficiently acknowledged.

Early records of the black presence in Plymouth include references to Sir James Bagg, who in 1628 ordered that his newly arrived negrowe should be handsomely clothed and the baptism ...

Article

Patricia Washington

The personal was political for black women in the United States well before the 1960s women’s movements. Activities that would normally be considered outside the realm of politics—such as learning to read and write, running boardinghouses for young women, or sitting at the front of the bus—were inherently political. From the antebellum era to the present day, efforts to obtain and maintain equal access to housing, employment, and education, as well as freedom from sexual and economic exploitation, have been expressly political endeavors for blacks living in the United States. Through it all, black women have developed and implemented distinctively female political strategies for racial survival, uplift, and equality.

Understanding black women s political activism in the United States requires understanding that politics is more than what happens within the institutional arena of formal governmental processes It requires expanding the definition of politics to include strategies and activities employed individually ...

Article

The black press did not become established until the early nineteenth century in Latin America and the Caribbean. This was due to the oppressive system of slavery and to extremely high illiteracy rates. Indeed, learning to read and write was a punishable offense under some slave codes. Even after abolition, blacks and mulattoes (persons of African and European descent) encountered numerous obstacles to opportunities that involved writing, such as exclusion from higher education. Many of the most celebrated early black poets and journalists were largely self-taught. Those who did publish before the nineteenth century—notably Rosa María Egipcíaca da Vera Cruz in Brazil and José Manuel Valdés in Peru—were exceptions to the rule.

Materials published by the black community during the nineteenth century included abolitionist pamphlets chapbooks newspapers and periodicals During most of the century romanticism was the predominant literary ethos and poetry was the genre of choice in newspapers ...

Article

Quakers  

Akil Houston

Because of their service to enslaved African men and women, Quakers were historically recognized in African American lore and legend as heralds for freedom. The Quakers were founded by George Fox in 1650; in 1652 the group was officially named the Religious Society of Friends. Quakers began to settle in Pennsylvania in the late seventeenth century. The concept of divine light as a beacon within the conscience of Quakers is the core of their commitment to peace, social justice, and human equality.

More than any other Christian denomination Quakers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries organized antislavery societies supported colonization served as conductors on the Underground Railroad and founded schools for quasi free and enslaved Africans Quaker attitudes toward abolition foreshadowed Quaker approaches to civil rights in the twentieth century Depending on geographic location and prevailing social climate Quakers favored passive protests for integration waiting for eventual social transformation ...

Article

Quakers  

Emma J. Lapsansky-Werner

The relationships between Quakerism, women’s rights, and African American women are complex. Since its beginnings in seventeenth-century England, the Religious Society of Friends has had a well-deserved reputation for treating women with equality and fairness. This Christian-based sect—whose early adherents came to be known as Quakers because they would often shake or quake when they felt the presence of God—quickly acquired what would become its signature characteristic: engaging the political controversies of the day with the goal of protecting human life and resisting injustice in whatever form these controversies might take. Speaking out against war and violence and protesting certain elements of social inequality are among the issues for which Friends, or Quakers, have become widely known.

Unlike that of many other Christian denominations the internal history of the Quakers was unmarred by witch hunts or persecutions against outspoken or influential women Indeed from the earliest years of its existence ...