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This Month in History: The Free African Society

I visited the African American Museum again last week, and I found myself asking the question “where is the Church’s place in our ongoing civil rights movement?” I am a Christian, and what I realized is that the church was unapologetic about fighting for freedom after slavery, and throughout the civil rights movement. Churches were the places where people organized, and used faith to bring the message of freedom and equality to the masses. We have to get back to that point. We can no longer apologize for using our faith to fight for freedom. The two go hand in hand, it’s relevant. I found this article on the Free African Society of Philadelphia, which was founded on January 28th, 1787. Check out the article below!

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After Richard Allen secured his freedom, he was a circuit preacher and attended meetings in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. When Allen came to the Philadelphia in 1786, he was approached by the minister of St. George’s United Methodist Church to preach to the small number of African Americans who attended. It was here that Allen met Absalom Jones, a former worshiper at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. The two men, along with other black community leaders, talked about forming their own religious society. However, since they came from many different backgrounds and religions, they instead formed the Free African Society in 1787. 

Among the first organizations of its kind in America, the Free African Society’s main goal was to provide aid to newly freed blacks so that they could gather strength and develop leaders in the community. The Society soon became too large to meet in Richard Allen’s house and its meetings moved to the Quaker African School House. In 1789, the Society more closely aligned itself with the Quaker faith and its meetings began to mimick Quaker services. That prompted Allen, who was a Methodist, and many who were loyal to him to leave the organization.

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