|Birth: ||Feb. 1, 1834|
South Carolina, USA
|Death: ||May 8, 1915|
Minister, politician. He was one of the most influential African American leaders in the late-nineteenth century, a pioneering church organizer and missionary for the A.M.E. church in Georgia, later rising to the rank of bishop. He also was an outspoken defender of African American rights, prominent leader of back-to-Africa movements, and supporter of the American Colonization Society. He was raised by his mother and grandmother. It was his grandmother who instilled in him a sense of pride in his African heritage. From an early age he envisioned becoming a leader of his people. He later left the cotton fields and moved to the city and worked as a janitor in a law office. There he became exposed to books on philosophy, religion and the law; as a result, he was able to learn to read and write. While he was a teenager, he experienced a powerful religious conversion during a Methodist camp meeting and soon decided to pursue a career in the ministry. In 1853 the 19-year old became a traveling evangelist for the Methodist Episcopal Church-South. In 1858 he joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church and during the next five years served as a minister to three different congregations in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. In 1863, when the Union army began accepting African American enlistments, he raised the first black regiment of the Civil War and was commissioned as its chaplain by President Abraham Lincoln. He was also given a position in the Freedmen's Bureau in Macon, Georgia after the Civil War. During Reconstruction in Georgia, his two great objectives were to build the A.M.E. church and the Republican party in order to organize African American political power. He scoured the state traveling fifteen thousand miles in fulfillment of these goals. Generally, he was conciliatory toward white Georgians calling for lenient treatment of former rebels. In 1868, he was elected to the Georgia legislature along with twenty-five other African Americans. Their white colleagues promptly expelled the contingent. He gave a famous speech protesting the expulsion exclaiming, "I shall neither fawn or cringe before any party, nor stoop to beg them for my rights. ...I am here to demand my rights and hurl thunderbolts at the men who dare to cross the threshold of my manhood." He became increasingly militant after the expulsion. He and his fellow legislators were restored to their sets in 1870 by the federal government amid a wave of Klan terror. The activists and politician often had to sleep outside his home in order to avoid the terrorists who attempted to murder him. After reconstruction ended in Georgia, he worked in many areas. He became the strongest advocate until the ascension of Marcus Garvey, for African Americans collaborating with Africans including living and building institutions in Africa. He also continued to help build the A.M.E. church as editor of its periodicals before becoming a bishop. He was one of the founders of Atlanta's Morris Brown College serving as one of its early chancellors. He donated some of his land so that a public school for African Americans could be built. He was steadfast in his resistance to discrimination-leading protests in the 1890s through the early 1900s against segregated Atlanta streetcars. As a result of his persistence to fight for political and social equality, he became a hero to African American Georgians, especially to the working class. During the early twentieth century he made a conservative shift, siding with the conciliatory Booker T. Washington rather than the more militant W.E.B. DuBois. He became close to becoming a national leader in the mold of Frederick Douglass or Booker T. Washington. But in the end, his outspokenness on the Africa issue undermined him. He later died of a stroke in Canada while attending an A.M.E. gathering. His funeral in Atlanta was attended by an estimated 25,000 people. (bio by: Curtis Jackson 🏿💻🏿)
South View Cemetery
Created by: Curtis Jackson 🏿...
Record added: Jun 30, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 14775222