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James Chrismer

evangelist and African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister, was born a freewoman near Havre de Grace, Harford County, Maryland. One of seven children of William and Harriet Lego Cole, she was descended from a family that included a Native American maternal great-grandmother married to an Englishman, a maternal grandfather born in Guinea, and a paternal grandmother reputedly freed from slavery by a Baltimore court after enduring an unwarranted and savage beating while pregnant. In October 1845, when she was sixteen years of age, Harriet married William Baker, ten years her senior and a slave on the Edward Gallop plantation in Michaelsville, a nearby Maryland hamlet.

In 1847 when the couple learned of Gallop s plan to sell William to a slave dealer in Georgia they fled north with their infant daughter After a forty eight mile flight along the western bank of the Susquehanna River they crossed ...

Article

W. Caleb McDaniel

shoemaker, clergyman, and abolitionist, was born in Chatham, Connecticut, to Sarah Gerry and Cesar Beman, a manumitted slave and Revolutionary War veteran who may have chosen his surname to indicate his freedom to “be a man.” By 1809 Jehiel had moved to Colchester, Connecticut, and married Fanny Condol, with whom he fathered seven children, including the noted abolitionist Amos G. Beman. Jehiel worked in Colchester as a shoemaker and Methodist exhorter until 1830, when he moved to Middletown, Connecticut, to pastor the city's Cross Street African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church. On 11 August of that same year Jehiel's first wife died, and he married Nancy Scott on 17 October. In 1832 he left Cross Street after being appointed an itinerant missionary by the annual AMEZ conference, but he remained in Middletown as a preacher, shoemaker, and reformer until 1838 at ...

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

William C. Hine

Richard Harvey Cain was born to free parents in Greenbriar County, Virginia (now West Virginia). In 1831 his family moved to Gallipolis, Ohio. Cain was educated at local schools and worked on an Ohio River steamboat before being licensed to preach in the Methodist Episcopal church in 1844. Complaining of racial discrimination in the church, he resigned and joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Assigned a pulpit in Muscatine, Iowa, he was ordained a deacon in 1859. He returned to Ohio and in 1860 attended Wilberforce University. From 1861 to 1865 he served as pastor at Bridge Street Church in Brooklyn, New York, and was elevated to elder in 1862. He participated in the 1864 national black convention in Syracuse, New York, which advocated abolition, equality before the law, and universal manhood suffrage. He married Laura (maiden name unknown), and they adopted a daughter.

In ...

Article

William C. Hine

clergyman and politician, was born to free parents in Greenbriar County, Virginia (now West Virginia). In 1831 his family moved to Gallipolis, Ohio. Cain was educated at local schools and worked on an Ohio River steamboat before being licensed to preach in the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1844. Complaining of racial discrimination in the church, he resigned and joined the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Assigned a pulpit in Muscatine, Iowa, he was ordained a deacon in 1859. He returned to Ohio and in 1860 attended Wilberforce University. From 1861 to 1865 he served as pastor at Bridge Street Church in Brooklyn, New York, and was elevated to elder in 1862. He participated in the 1864 national black convention in Syracuse, New York, that advocated abolition, equality before the law, and universal manhood suffrage. Cain married Laura (maiden name unknown), and they adopted a daughter.

In 1865 ...

Article

David Michel

minister and activist, was born to Archibald J. Carey Sr., a Methodist minister, and Elizabeth Davis Carey in Chicago, Illinois. He attended Doolittle Elementary School and graduated from Wendell Phillips High School in 1925. As a youth Carey exhibited strong speaking skills and won the Chicago Daily News Oratorical Contest in 1924. In his adolescent years he was much influenced by his father, a staunch Republican politician, who took him to a private meeting with President Theodore Roosevelt.

After high school the young Carey pursued his education at the local Lewis Institute, where he earned a BS in 1928. He married Hazel Harper Carey, with whom he had one daughter, Carolyn. In 1929 he was ordained by his father who had become a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal AME Church The following year Carey was assigned to the Woodlawn AME Church in ...

Article

Barbara A. White

African Methodist Episcopal (AME) elder and leader in the African American community on Nantucket, was born on the plantation of David Ricketts on the outskirts of Alexandria, Virginia, where he was called George. The names of his parents are unknown.

There are conflicting accounts as to when Cooper fled Virginia. It is also unclear whether he fled with his wife, or whether he married a free woman in New Bedford, Massachusetts. (Little is known about his wife, Mary, other than her birth year of 1785.) All accounts do agree that he fled from Virginia with other fugitives on the packet ship Regulator, which hailed from New Bedford. Shortly after his arrival in New Bedford, George assumed the name Arthur Cooper and the following year, the Coopers' first child, Eliza Ann, was born. Sons Cyrus and Randolph were born in 1812 and 1814 respectively Randolph was probably ...

Article

Dickson D. Jr. Bruce

Born in Michigan, James D. Corrothers was raised in the predominantly white community of South Haven by his paternal grandfather, a man of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish ancestry. He moved to Muskegon at age fourteen, supporting himself and his grandfather. Shortly thereafter he moved to Indiana, then to Springfield, Ohio, working as a laborer. There, in his teens, he began his literary career, publishing a poem, “The Deserted School House”, in the local newspaper.

Corrothers's literary career received a boost when, at eighteen, he relocated to Chicago. Working in a white barber shop, he met journalist-reformer Henry Demarest Lloyd and showed him some poems. Lloyd arranged for their publication in the Chicago Tribune, getting Corrothers a custodial job in the Tribune offices Corrothers was soon asked to do an article on Chicago s African American elite He was chagrined when the story appeared rewritten by a white reporter ...

Article

William C. Fischer

journalist, poet, and clergyman, was born in Chain Lake Settlement, Cass County, Michigan, a colony first settled by fugitive slaves in the 1840s. His parents were James Richard Carruthers (the spelling was later changed by Corrothers), a black soldier in the Union army, and Maggie Churchman, of French and Madagascan descent, who died when Corrothers was born. Corrothers was legally adopted by his paternal grandfather, a pious and respected man of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish origins, who raised young Corrothers in relative poverty. They lived in several roughneck towns along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, where Corrothers attended school and became aware of racial hostility. When he was just a boy family members introduced him to a rich vein of African American folk tales that he would later draw upon for a number of his dialect sketches.

Working in his teens variously as a sawmill hand hotel menial coachman ...

Article

William C. Fischer

Corrothers, James David (02 July 1869–12 February 1917), journalist, poet, and clergyman, was born in Chain Lake Settlement, Cass County, Michigan, a colony first settled by fugitive slaves in the 1840s. His parents were James Richard Carruthers (spelling later changed by Corrothers), a black soldier in the Union army, and Maggie Churchman, of French and Madagascan descent, who died when Corrothers was born. Corrothers was legally adopted by his nonblack paternal grandfather, a pious and respected man of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish origins, who raised young Corrothers in relative poverty. They lived in several roughneck towns along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, where Corrothers attended school and became aware of racial hostility. In his boyhood family members introduced him to a rich vein of African-American folk tales that he would later draw upon for a number of his dialect sketches.

Working in his teens variously as a ...

Article

Alice Bernstein

minister, schoolteacher, and civil rights leader, was born in Manning, Clarendon County, South Carolina, the seventh of thirteen children of Tisbia Gamble DeLaine and Henry Charles DeLaine, a pastor at Liberty Hill African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

The family owned farmland, which they worked to keep food on the table, and the children walked miles to a rundown segregated school. When he was fourteen, while walking to school, DeLaine shoved a white boy who had accosted his sister. After this incident was reported to his school's principal, DeLaine ran away to escape punishment of twenty-five lashes, which a school authority was compelled to administer. He spent four years in Georgia and Michigan working as a laborer and attending night school, returning to Manning in 1916. DeLaine worked his way through college and in 1931 earned a BA from Allen University in Columbia South Caroliana where ...

Article

Eric Gardner

African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister, activist, and Freemason, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Robert and Hannah Dickson. Little is known of his youth. His Virginia-born parents died before he reached adulthood, though he was able to attend school for a time and learned barbering. Accounts of Dickson's early adulthood blend myth and revolutionary promise; the root of most such accounts appears to be anonymous reports included in late-nineteenth-century black Masonic and neo-Masonic ritual books that were either written or influenced heavily by Dickson. These reports claim that Dickson found work aboard a steamer in his late teens, traveled across the South, saw the horrors of slavery, and began raising a hidden army of slaves awaiting his call to revolt. The army supposedly grew as Dickson interacted with free blacks in the Midwest, which he reportedly traversed between 1844 and 1846 By the 1850s there were supposedly several ...

Article

Stephen W. Angell

Jordan Winston Early was born a slave in Franklin County, Virginia. His mother died when he was three years old, and he was raised by an elderly woman, known as Aunt Milly, who cared for the plantation's slave children while their mothers worked. She was a devout Christian, and Early later attributed the fact that he became a “useful and intelligent” man to her influence. Early attended many camp meetings in his boyhood, and he later recalled that he was religiously inclined from an early age. He loved nature and often hunted at night with a favorite uncle.

In 1826 Early moved with the Early family to St. Louis. In his new home, he frequently visited churches and listened closely to the white ministers' sermons. A sermon by a Methodist minister named Barger soon led to his conversion; “My conviction was deep and powerful,” related Early. In 1828 ...

Article

Stephen W. Angell

minister, was born a slave in Franklin County, Virginia. His mother died when he was three years old, and he was raised by an elderly woman known as Aunt Milly who cared for the plantation's slave children while their mothers worked. She was a devout Christian, and Early later attributed the fact that he became a “useful and intelligent” man to her influence. Early attended many camp meetings in his boyhood, and he later recalled that he was religiously inclined from an early age. He loved nature and often hunted at night with a favorite uncle.

In 1826 Early moved with the Early family to St. Louis. In his new home, he frequently visited churches and listened closely to the white ministers' sermons. A sermon by a Methodist minister named Barger soon led to his conversion; “My conviction was deep and powerful,” he related. In 1828 he was ...

Article

Donald Yacovone

minister, author, and abolitionist, was born in North Bridgewater (later Brockton), Massachusetts, to James, a successful businessman, and Sarah Dunbar Easton. Easton'sTreatise on the Intellectual Character, and Civil and Political Condition of the Colored People of the U. States (1837) was the nation's first systematic study of racism and stands with David Walker's Appeal (1829) as among the most important writings by African Americans during the early nineteenth century. The seven children of the Easton family blended African, American Indian, and white ancestry. Thus, the concept of “race,” as whites began to redefine it in the early nineteenth century, possessed little meaning to the Eastons. Indeed, one of Hosea Easton's brothers married into North Bridgewater's most distinguished white family.

James Easton had been a much respected businessman in the greater Boston area and a Revolutionary War veteran and viewed ...

Article

Laura Murphy

writer, sailor, soldier, teacher, and minister, was one of ten children born in North Carolina to Abel Ferebee, a slave and minister of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church, and Chloe (maiden name unknown), a slave. When London was young his mother was sold, apparently because of her unwillingness to submit to her master and her ability to beat him in a fight. She was sold to a speculator, who offered to sell her to her husband or his master, who had allowed Ferebee to hire himself out to a local farmer so that they both profited from his labor. When she was subsequently bought by one of the two men—it is unclear which—London and two of his siblings were allowed to move with her, though they all remained enslaved.

Once he was old enough to begin laboring London was immediately set to ...

Article

LaVerne Gray

minister, politician, educator, and writer. After serving as a U.S. representative from New York, Flake became the minister and leader of New York City's largest African American church, the Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral in Queens. He elevated the membership to over eighteen thousand and assisted the economic growth of the church through concentrated efforts in community development. In 2002 Flake became president of Wilberforce University, one the oldest historically black colleges, in Ohio. He worked in the private, educational, and government sectors while simultaneously serving in the church.

Floyd Harold Flake was born in Los Angeles, the third of thirteen children born to Robert Flake, a janitor, and Rosie Lee Flake a homemaker When Flake was still small the family relocated to Houston Texas Growing up Flake was resourceful and his parents stressed a strong work ethic He was always working delivering ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

minister, U.S. Congressman, educator, and business executive, was born in Los Angeles, California, the eighth of thirteen children of Robert Flake Sr., a janitor, and Rosie Lee Johnson. Shortly after Floyd's birth, the family moved into a two-bedroom home in Houston, Texas. The roots of many of Floyd's political beliefs can be traced to his southern upbringing: his family was poor, but proud; racism abounded, but faith and optimism ruled the Flake home.

Floyd s early education took place in segregated poorly equipped schools but his teachers were dedicated and took a stern interest in his academic development One teacher cared enough to make sure that Floyd spent much of his free time involved in youth programs at her African Methodist Episcopal AME Church After graduating from high school Flake entered Wilberforce University the nation s oldest private African American University in Ohio He ...