“Richard Allen: (1760-1831) U.S. religious leader. He was born to slave parents in Philadelphia, and his family was sold to a Delaware farmer. A Methodist convert at 17, he was licensed to preach five years later. By 1786 he had purchased his freedom and settled in Philadelphia, where he joined St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church. Racial discrimination prompted him to withdraw in 1787, and he turned an old blacksmith shop into the first black church in the United States. Allen and his followers built the Bethel African Methodist Church, and in 1799 he was ordained as its minister. In 1816 he organized a conference of black leaders to form the African Methodist Episcopal Church, of which he was named the first bishop.”
Excerpted/Adapted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.