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Abolitionism and the Uplift Movement

Justin Schenck March 7, 2013 Abolitionism Prof. Price The Uplift Movement and Origins of the “Black” Church In the late 18th century after the end of the revolution many new opportunities and hopefully thinking caused African Americans to start fighting for equality through the Uplift movement. This was an era where the Great Awakening and Enlightenment were becoming much more popular nationwide.

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Secret abolition societies and organizations were sprouting up all across the new Republic.

These free thinkers and new anti-slavery organizations called for the need of a place to gather without racial discrimination and where the members could feel comfortable. I believe that the solution for this problem was the development of African American churches where racial segregation was not present and the black community along with white activist could gather comfortably for worship, opportunity, social/scholastic education, and held as a place for various activist meetings.

The first of the churches was founded by two former slaves, Richard Allen and Absalom Jones. The African Methodist Episcopal Church was established in 1792. These churches created many leaders in the fight for racial equality and the abolishment of slavery. The churches were open to both free blacks and slaves. White slave owners would bring their slaves to church with them and justified slavery by saying that the church is teaching them Christianity even though they experienced very little access to a quality service.

These new “black” churches gave African Americans the chance to decipher the bible in their own way and spiritual traditions which have carried on still to this day. Along with these new traditions created leadership roles in the church which were nonexistent in the mainstream churches. Not only were these churches a place for comfortable worship but also served as a “headquarters” for meetings among the anti-slavery and racial equality groups. Without these places for opportunities like jobs, petition rives, activist meetings, and schools the racial discrimination wouldn’t have gotten any better any faster. The schools created the knowledge to understand how to make it as a free person in the white society. Freed blacks were becoming much more literate which helped them learn how to fight for equality along with the religious side of equal rights for all men. Of course there were struggles along the way. The churches suffered violence from white denominations but the “black” churches would not fail under strong leadership.

These preachers encouraged economic growth through community member’s donations and drives. This economic growth funded the schools and literacy programs. Also, Black leaders began to focus on politics and setting political goals. This was a time of growth all across the board and was the foundation of building a strong community, economic growth, and possibly most of all creating opportunity for leadership that had not been seen before.