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Michael Pasquier

Roman Catholic nun and founder of a religious order, was born in New Orleans, the daughter of Marie Josephe Diaz, a free woman of color, and Jean Baptiste Delille-Sarpy a wealthy white aristocrat Legally categorized as a person of mixed race Delille attended a school for free children of color under the direction of Catholic sisters in New Orleans Her father did not support the family in any measurable fashion and her mother suffered from mental illness all of which required that Delille and her two surviving siblings support themselves at a young age As a teenager she began to identify less with the aristocratic society of free people of color and more with the religious lives of Catholic sisters She became a catechist to free people of color and a lay leader in Catholic confraternities Legal and social standards however limited the extent to which she was ...


Lisa Clayton Robinson

“And why should it be thought impossible, heterodox, or improper, for a woman to preach? seeing the Savior died for the woman as well as the man.” In this quotation from her autobiography, Jarena Lee explains the belief that led her to become one of the first African American women preachers. Lee was born into a free black family and was hired out as an indentured servant at the age of seven. She converted to Christianity at the age of twenty-one, and, after wrestling with spiritual doubts for several years, realized that she was serious about her faith and felt called by God to preach. But when Lee first asked to preach at Philadelphia's Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in 1809, the Rev. Richard Allen dissuaded her because of her gender.

She became a minister's wife instead, marrying the Rev. Joseph Lee in 1811 and giving birth ...


Jualynne E. Dodson

Jarena Lee was the first woman known to petition the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church for authority to preach. She was born in Cape May, New Jersey, and is recorded to have made a first request to preach in 1809 at Bethel African Methodist Church of Philadelphia. The denial of this request did not stop Lee from preaching, and neither did her family life.

She married Reverend Joseph Lee, an AME pastor, in 1811 and moved to Snow Hill, New Jersey. In the sixth year of marriage, Joseph Lee died, and Lee was left with two children and a commitment “to preach his gospel to the fallen sons and daughters of Adam’s race.”

Jarena Lee returned to Philadelphia and renewed her request to preach. Reverend Richard Allen who at Lee s first request could find no precedent in Methodist discipline for women preaching had become bishop of ...


Stacey Pamela Patton

the first woman known to have petitioned for and received the authority to preach in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Jarena Lee was born free in Cape May, New Jersey. At the age of seven she was sent to work as a domestic. In 1804 she went to hear a Presbyterian missionary preach and became so overwhelmed by her sinful nature that she was moved within days to contemplate suicide. She recounts in the narrative she wrote that the “unseen arm of God … saved me from self-murder.” Soon thereafter she became ill; after recovering she moved to Philadelphia, where she heard the preaching of the Reverend Richard Allen who later became the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church That day she embraced the church as her own and three weeks from that day my soul was gloriously converted to God under preaching For a few moments ...


Adrienne Israel

church leader and organizer, was born Lizzie Smith in Phillips County, Arkansas, one of five children of enslaved parents, Lizzie Jackson and Mose Smith. Her father died shortly after her birth, leaving her illiterate mother to raise their children alone. Nevertheless, after the Civil War all five attended school, and by age eight, Lizzie had learned to read. When Lizzie was fifteen her mother died, forcing her to quit school and work as a washerwoman to support herself. In 1880, while living in Helena, Arkansas, she married William Henry Holt and gave birth to a daughter, Ida Florence. When Holt died, she married William H. Woods, who also died soon after they were married. In 1892 Robinson settled in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where she joined a Baptist church and where she and Ida lived together and worked as laundresses until Ida married Archie Baker ...