No words to describe the horrific events that happened overnight in my hometown in a historic church, Emmanuel A.M.E. The mass shooting of (at least) nine people conducting a Wednesday prayer meeting, is the act of a cold and hateful predator.
This past week, I have written in my “Today In Charleston History” blog a series of postings about a delegation of black leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal church from Philadelphia who arrived in Charleston to conduct religious services. Charleston is too good of a city to endure such ugliness. Every citizen should be vigilant to assist law enforcement in their effort to hunt down and catch the evil animal who killed these people.
In lieu of my regular daily posting … I am re-posting the historical events of 1818 dealing with the A.M.E. Church.
June 7, 1818-Slavery. Religion.
Rev. Richard Allen and a delegation from Philadelphia arrived in Charleston at the invitation of Rev. Morris Brown to support the local A.M.E. (African Methodist Episcopal) Church. In 1794 Allen had founded the A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia, the first independent black denomination in the United States. In 1816 he was elected the first bishop of the A.M.E. Church.
June 9, 1818 – Religion-Slavery
Rev. Richard Allen conducted a service on Wednesday evening at the A.M.E. Church. The city guard was called out to break up the service. One hundred and forty black congregants were arrested – including Denmark Vesey, Peter Poyas, Monday Gell and Gullah Jack – and spent the night in jail. The next morning a judge lectured them on the particulars of the 1800 law that prohibited black religious meetings after dark with a black majority.
June 11, 1818 – Slavery. Religion.
“Black Priests” appeared before the City Council asking for permission to “allow them to hold their meetings in the way they wished.” The Council denied the request, claiming that the “Missionaries” of the Philadelphia AME church were “fire-brands of discord and destruction.”
They did, however, allow daylight meetings as long as a “single white person” was present to monitor the service.
June 15, 1818 – Slavery. Religion.
In direct defiance of the City Council, Rev. Richard Allen (of Philadelpha) conducted a Sunday service in a private home for a blacks-only congregation. The city guard once again disrupted the service. Allen and his Philadelphia delegation were arrested and sentenced to “one month’s imprisonment, or to give security and leave the state.”
Allen and his group returned to Philadelphia under the threat of his arrest, but black religious services continued to be conducted in private homes at night, often conducted by Denmark Vesey. Gullah Jack, however, was angered by what he called “the desecration of sacred ground” (the disruption of religious services), and claimed he “wanted to begin” to organize against the whites.