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Richard Allen

February 27, 2012

Richard Allen was born a slave on Valentine’s Day in 1790 in Philadelphia, PA. He would go on to create the first independent bBlack denomination in the United States, the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.).

Early in his life, Allen joined the Methodist Society and went on to convert members of  his family and community. Allen and his brothers attended religious meetings so frequently that they raised the suspicions of the white neighbors, who were convinced that religion would cause the boys to “ruin” their master. The boys skillfully decided to devout more time to their master’s needs, so it could not be said that religion ruined slaves. Allen’s plan worked so well that his master organized for a white preacher to come speak at his home. The speaker proved to be so inspirational that Allen’s master began to resist the institution of slavery and encouraged him to purchase his freedom,which he did.

After purchasing freedom, Allen traveled throughout the East coast preaching to both Black and white congregations.  Eventually, Allen generated a following of 42 members, which was only growing. Allen founded the Free African Society in 1787 with Absalom Jones. The society servedas a non-denominational religious mutual aid society for the Black community of Philadelphia. Allen’s disagreement with the segregated religious services athis Methodist church pushed him to create the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1787. Located on 6th and Lombard Streets, it is the oldest church property that has been consistently owned by Blacks since its’ creation.

Brittany Greene, CAS

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