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Mary T. Henry

bishop, civil rights leader, and educator, was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to Rev. Eugene Avery Adams and Charity Nash Adams. He and his three siblings, Avery, Charity, and Lucy Rose, were raised in a spiritual and intellectually stimulating home. His father, an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister and social activist, in the 1920s organized the first African American bank in Columbia and the first modern statewide civil rights organization in South Carolina. None of these activities went unnoticed by young John and they helped to define his later focus and commitments. Adams was educated in the segregated Columbia school system and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. His undergraduate work was completed at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he earned an AB degree in History in 1947 After studying at Boston University School of Theology he received a bachelor of ...

Article

(b Philadelphia, PA, Feb 14, 1760; d Philadelphia, March 26, 1831). American tunebook compiler. A former slave, he founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia in 1794 and was elected its first bishop on the incorporation of the church in 1816. He compiled a hymnbook of 54 hymns, A Collection of Spiritual Songs and Hymns, for use by his congregation, the Bethel AME Church, in 1801. Later that year an enlarged version was published as A Collection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs. It was the first hymnbook published by an African American for use by African Americans, and many of the hymns later became sources for black spirituals. With Daniel Coker and James Champion, Allen also compiled the first official hymnbook of the AME Church in 1818.

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John Saillant

Born a slave in the household of a prominent Philadelphian, Richard Allen was sold to a Delaware farmer who allowed him and his brother to work as day laborers to purchase their freedom. In Delaware, Allen also encountered exhorters of the Methodist Society, then still affiliated with the Church of England. The antislavery position of the Methodists attracted him, while their inspiration led him to teach himself to read and write and to feel a spiritual awakening, described at the out set of his autobiography, The Life, Experience and Gospel Labors of the Rt. Rev. Richard Allen (1833; rpt. 1960). His 1786 return to Philadelphia introduced him to Absalom Jones an African American preacher some years his senior and to African Americans who were hungry for social and religious leadership in their home city The Methodist emphasis on inner faith and weekly meetings of the faithful ...

Article

Aaron Myers

Born a slave in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Allen grew up during the American Revolution (1775–1783), an era characterized by the advocacy of individual rights, the growth of denominational Christianity, and the inception of the antislavery movement. Around 1768 Allen's owner, a Philadelphia lawyer named Benjamin Chew, sold him, his three siblings, and his parents to Stokely Sturgis, a plantation owner in Delaware.

With the permission of Sturgis, Allen began to attend Methodist meetings, and around 1777 he converted to Methodism. In the second half of the eighteenth century, Methodism proliferated in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. This Christian denomination emphasized a simple set of virtues that included honesty, modesty, and sobriety. Following Allen's conversion, in 1780 Sturgis agreed to let Allen hire himself out in order to earn money to purchase his freedom for $2 000 In addition to doing manual labor Allen began to preach ...

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Frederick V. Mills

AmericanMethodist preacher and founder of the African Methodist Episcopal church, was born into slavery to parents who were the property of Benjamin Chew of Philadelphia. He and his parents and three additional children were sold in 1777 to Stokely Sturgis, who lived near Dover, Delaware. There he attended Methodist preaching events and experienced a spiritual awakening. Allen, his older brother, and a sister were retained by Sturgis, but his parents and younger siblings were sold. Through the ministry of Freeborn Garretson, a Methodist itinerant preacher, Sturgis was converted to Methodism and became convinced that slavery was wrong. Subsequently, Allen and his brother were permitted to work to purchase their freedom, which they did in 1780.For the next six years Allen worked as a wagon driver woodcutter and bricklayer while serving as a Methodist preacher to both blacks and whites in towns and rural areas in Maryland ...

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Scott A. Miltenberger

Richard Allen was born a slave into Philadelphia's noted Chew family, whose patriarch Benjamin Chew was a prominent lawyer and served as Pennsylvania's chief justice from 1774 to 1777. In 1767 the family sold Richard to Stokeley Sturgis, a farmer in Kent County, Delaware. There Richard met a Methodist circuit rider, an encounter that transformed his life.

Unlike all other Protestant groups at the time, the Methodists made no distinctions based on color; moreover, they opposed slavery. Sometime around 1780, after attending a revival held by an itinerant Methodist preacher, Richard had a profound religious conversion. He began to attend Methodist prayer meetings, learned to read and write, and eventually presided over the local meetings. Soon after, inspired by a sermon given at his home by the charismatic Methodist preacher Freeborn Garrettson Sturgis became convinced that slaveholding was wrong He drafted a gradual manumission contract with ...

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Kathryn Lofton

prominent African Methodist Episcopal (AME) bishop and political counselor. Hamel Hartford Brookins spent the latter half of the twentieth century attempting to integrate American politics and spur international black economic development. Born the son of sharecroppers in Yazoo, Mississippi, Brookins found early institutional success and spiritual support from the AME Church through his education in Ohio at Wilberforce University and Payne Theological Seminary. While attending graduate school in Wichita, Kansas, Brookins led an interracial ministerial alliance that defused the violence following the Supreme Court's school-desegregation mandate in 1954 with Brown v. Board of Education. This mediating prowess led to Brookins's appointment to the First AME Church of Los Angeles, where he remained for more than ten years.

During his time in Los Angeles Brookins cultivated his pastoral skills while developing his political interests establishing First AME as the symbolic center of black Los Angeles From the multimillion dollar church ...

Article

Stephen D. Glazier

John Mifflin Brown was born in Cantwell's Bridge, New Castle County, in Delaware. Little is known of his family or early childhood. He lived in Cantwell's Bridge until he was ten. He then moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where he lived for two years with the family of William A. Seals, a Quaker. At Cantwell's Bridge, he attended a predominantly white private school. His older sister encouraged him to move to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he lived with and worked for attorney Henry Chester, who tutored him and provided him with limited religious training. Brown attended St. Thomas Colored Protestant Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.

In January 1836 Brown became a member of Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia and began private studies under Rev. John M. Gloucester to prepare for the ministry. He also studied barbering and worked as a barber in Poughkeepsie, New York, and in New York ...

Article

Stephen D. Glazier

African Methodist Episcopal (AME) bishop, was born in Cantwell's Bridge, New Castle County, Delaware. Little is known of his family or early childhood. He lived in Cantwell's Bridge until he was ten. He then moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where he lived for two years with the family of William A. Seals, a Quaker. At Cantwell's Bridge, he attended a predominantly white private school. His older sister encouraged him to move to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he lived with and worked for the attorney Henry Chester, who tutored him and provided him with limited religious training. Brown attended St. Thomas Colored Protestant Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.

In January 1836 Brown became a member of Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia and began private studies under the Reverend John M. Gloucester to prepare for the ministry He also studied barbering and worked as a barber in Poughkeepsie New York and New ...

Article

Will Gravely

Morris Brown was born of mixed parentage in Charleston, South Carolina, where he spent his early and middle years. Apparently self-educated, he worked as a bootmaker and shoe repairman; he married Maria (maiden name unknown), with whom he had six children. Associated with the city's community of free people of color, Brown earned a reputation for assisting slaves to purchase their freedom and for teaching and advising both free and enslaved Africans in the region.

Soon after his religious conversion and joining the Methodist Episcopal (ME) church, Brown was licensed to preach. In that role he had greater access to the slave population as well as to groups of free African Americans. As their numbers grew, both generally and within the African church in Charleston, Brown emerged as their leader. In 1816 in a dispute over a burial ground many African church members withdrew from their connection with ...

Article

Will Gravely

African Methodist Episcopal minister and bishop, was born of mixed parentage in Charleston, South Carolina, where he spent his early and middle years. Apparently self-educated, he worked as a boot maker and shoe repairman; he married Maria (maiden name unknown), with whom he had six children. Associated with the city's community of free people of color, Brown earned a reputation for assisting slaves in purchasing their freedom and for teaching and advising both free and enslaved African Americans in the region.

Soon after his religious conversion and his joining of the Methodist Episcopal (ME) Church, Brown was licensed to preach. In that role he had greater access to the slave population as well as to groups of free African Americans. As the number of blacks grew, both generally and within the African church in Charleston, Brown emerged as their leader. As a result of an 1816 dispute over a ...

Article

Douglas R. Egerton

the second bishop of the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Philadelphia. Morris (or Maurice) Brown was born free in Charleston, South Carolina, to a black woman and a father of Scots ancestry. Brown never learned how to read, but as a young man he was trained as a bookmaker. According to Henry Highland Garnet, Brown was “tall and portly, his complexion was yellow, his forehead lofty.” As a young man Brown married a bondwoman named Bella, with whom he had five children; because she was enslaved, all of his children were born slaves as well. After years of laboring and saving, in August 1810 Brown bought his wife, three daughters, and two sons from Hannah Lesense for £650. Having purchased his family, Brown continued to use his earnings to liberate other Charleston slaves, for which he later served twelve months in the city's workhouse.

In ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

president of Allen University, thirty‐seventh bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, was born in Winnsboro, South Carolina, the son of Henry Chappelle and Patsy McCrory Chappelle. Contemporary sources state that he was born enslaved, as were 98 percent of African Americans in South Carolina on the eve of the Civil War. There remains a possibility that he was free, since his recently widowed mother reported in the 1900 census that she was born in November 1827, and had been married fifty‐four years. Chappelle's maternal grandparents were Samuel and Fanny McCrory. Such stability of family name and marriage bonds may mean that his parents, or one of his parents had known freedom.

Chappelle attended the Fairfield Normal Institute at Winnsboro a school funded by northern Presbyterians staffed by northern educators considered white He experienced a Christian conversion at the age of nineteen making a life long ...

Article

Mary F. Corey

Daniel Coker was born a slave in Frederick County, Maryland, the son of Susan Coker, a white indentured servant, and Edward Wright, a black slave belonging to the same plantation owner whose name is unknown. Daniel Coker was educated with his master's son, who refused to go to school without his slave. When Coker was in his early teens he escaped to New York City where he joined the Methodist Church and was ordained as a lay minister.

Empowered by his education and ordination, Coker returned to Maryland in 1801 to become the first African American teacher at the African Academy, a school founded by the Baltimore Abolition Society for the education of free blacks. He was the first black licensed minister in Baltimore and the spiritual leader of an independent prayer meeting formed by black Methodists dissatisfied with their position within the white Methodist church ...

Article

Mary F. Corey

a founder of the African Methodist Episcopal church, author, and educator, was born a slave in Frederick County, Maryland, the son of Susan Coker, a white indentured servant, and Edward Wright, a black slave belonging to the same plantation owner, whose name is unknown. Daniel Coker was educated with his master's son, who refused to go to school without his slave. When Coker was in his early teens he escaped to New York City where he joined the Methodist Church and was ordained as a lay minister.

Empowered by his education and ordination, Coker returned to Maryland in 1801 to become the first African American teacher at the African Academy a school founded by the Baltimore Abolition Society for the education of free blacks He was the first black licensed minister in Baltimore and the spiritual leader of an independent prayer meeting formed by black Methodists dissatisfied ...

Article

Debra Newman Ham

Daniel Coker was born Isaac Wright in 1780, probably in Frederick County, Maryland, to the enslaved African Edward Wright and the white indentured servant Susan Coker. Isaac's mother also had an older white son, named Daniel Coker, who refused to go away to school unless Isaac could accompany him. While with his half brother, Isaac received a rudimentary education and ran away to New York, where he assumed his brother's name.

The mixed-race Coker was active in the Methodist movement under the traveling bishop Francis Asbury. Coker became a minister in a Baltimore Methodist church that was modeled after the Reverend Richard Allen's church in Philadelphia and opened a school in about 1800 Despite the fact that early Methodists were encouraged to free their slaves welcome African American members and support abolition many white preachers trustees and churchgoers treated African American members of their congregation unjustly ...

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Donna L. Halper

clergyman, educator, and author, was born in Fredericktown, Maryland, or as he put it in his autobiography, “Frederick Town.” He was born on the eastern shore of Maryland, the birthplace of Frederick Douglass, but was freeborn, one of eight children of John Coppin, probably a farmer, and Jane Lilly, a homemaker. His father was a member of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. There were no schools where he could get an advanced education, so he was homeschooled by his mother, and tutored privately by Quakers in Wilmington, Delaware, who prepared him for a career in teaching. He then began teaching in Smyrna, Delaware, and occasionally served as a preacher. A personal tragedy, however, pushed him toward the ministry. In September 1875 he married Martha Grinnage a young schoolteacher from Wilmington Delaware and they soon had a son But the baby was only nine months old when ...

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Dorothy Drinkard-Hawkshawe

Levi Jenkins Coppin was born in Frederick, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore. His parents, Jane Lilly and John Coppin, were free people; therefore, he and his three brothers and three sisters were born free. Coppin's mother was a very religious woman who had a profound influence on his life. In addition to giving him religious training, she taught him to read and write. Although it was against a state law before the end of the Civil War (1861–1865 to educate blacks his mother held classes secretly in her home at night and on Sunday mornings before church Coppin assisted his mother in this task As a teenager he had a reputation for being able to read and write and boys went to him to have their love letters written For this service he charged ten cents a letter and according to Coppin they gladly paid Coppin ...

Article

Monte Hampton

preacher, shoemaker, and founder of the world's third oldest African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, was born in Charles City County, Virginia. Little is known of his parents, upbringing, or eventual marriage.

En route to Charleston in the 1780s Evans arrived in Fayetteville, North Carolina. According to William Capers, a Methodist bishop, Evans stayed in Fayetteville because “the people of his race in that town were wholly given to profanity and lewdness, never hearing preaching of any denomination, and living emphatically without hope and without God in the world.” Evans's initial efforts to instruct slaves in the vicinity of Fayetteville met with stout resistance from whites. Fearing that his preaching would incite sedition and insurrection, white officials jailed him. Eventually released, Evans continued his evangelistic efforts at clandestine meetings in the sand hills outside of town.

Evans's persistence paid off. By 1802 the public morals of the negroes ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

an evangelist and ordained elder of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion) Church, who conducted overflowing revival meetings during the 1930s and 1940s, is often credited with early introduction of gospel music into worship. He was born William Frederic Fisher in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Hiram and Mildred Fisher. His father was of German ancestry, possibly born in the District of Columbia, and his mother, of African descent, was born in Virginia.

Known as the boy preacher by age ten Fisher attended Philadelphia public schools then graduated from Livingston College in Salisbury North Carolina where he met and married Julia Freeland a fellow student from Charlotte North Carolina Fisher completed studies for the ministry at Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury The exact dates of his ordination as a deacon and then an elder of the AME Zion Church are no longer documented His first pastoral assignment was in ...