History of abolition and Civil Rights at Emmauel AME church

Update: Dylan Storm Roof Emmauel AME Church massacre suspect has been arrested in Shelby, North Carolina

Dylan Roof has been apprehended for the massacre of peaceful churchgoers at The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The church is the oldest Black church in the south. In its founding, the church was led by Morris Brown and Denmark Vesey, abolitionists who planned a slave revolt from the church.

The church has a history of determination and bouncing back after Vesey and others were executed for the alleged revolt and the church was burned to the ground in 1822. On Wednesday June 17, hate and discrimination have once again overshadowed the church’s history.

Forming the congregation in the 1790’s a body of free black slaves, left their white colleagues in 1816 because of conflicts over burial grounds.

With 1,400 Support of the minister Morris Brown they came under the banner of African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Being banned from preaching, the freed slaves did not have the rights to preach without white supervision. Many of the leaders broke this law and many members of the church were arrested and thrown into jail.

After news came that the church was a place where rebellion might take place, it was burned to the ground in 1822 as a slave revolt was uncovered. 313 so-called contributors were arrested by the authorities and 35 were executed. This included the architect of the church and carpenter, a free man that had bought himself out of slavery, Denmark Vesey.

The church was rebuilt only to be outlawed in 1834 by the state administration. This did not discourage the congregation as they continued to meet together right until the end of the Civil war. Only to be destroyed again by natural forces.

The church was built yet again and in the 1960s many black leaders convened there including Martin Luther King Jr.

The church now seats 2,500 and is the biggest of any African American church in Charleston. Being a Historic Place it is now been put on the national register since 1985.

It is a tragedy that a church leader and State Senator Clementa Pinckney, Elder James Johnson and the president of the Tri-County Civil rights organization were killed in this senseless act of violence.

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal has an antiquity of disaster, hate and discrimination which has never discouraged its members before, they will come together in solidarity to comfort one another in love and peace to overcome this tragedy as well.

-Natasha John-Baptiste

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