The Vesey Revolt was led by Denmark Vesey (1767-1822) and to a lesser extent, by his accomplice, Peter Poyas (Higginson, 229). Vesey was a literate and very intelligent black man who had purchased his freedom in January of 1800; he was the only free black to take part in the revolt. The revolt was planned to occur on an unknown date in May of 1822 near Charleston, South Carolina (Sylvester, bio 231).
Vesey’s views and ambitions were spurred by his work with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, the only independent black church in Charleston at the time. Within the church, Vesey gave sermons and led lessons. As a literate man, he was looked upon as a teacher. Continue reading
William Henry Miles (1828-1892) was a founder and the first senior bishop of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America, a Methodist denomination formed in 1870 to serve African-American Methodists in the American South. Miles College in Birmingham, Alabama is named in his honor.
Miles was born in Springfield, Kentucky. He was a slave of Mrs. Mary Miles; when she died in 1854, she willed William his freedom (although he was not freed until 1864)
James Varick was born near Newburgh, New York, on January 10, 1750. His mother was a slave of the Varicks, or Van Varicks, and was later freed. His father, Richard, was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, where he was baptized in the Dutch Church. The family lived in New York City while James Varick was young, where he acquired an elementary education in New York schools. For many years, he worked as a shoemaker and later as a tobacco cutter to support himself and his family, because the church with which he was associated did not pay its preachers. About 1790, he married Aurelia Jones. The couple had four sons and three daughters. Continue reading
On November 20, 1866, 10 members of the First Congregational Society of Washington, D.C., gathered for a missionary meeting. That evening, they decided to establish a seminary for the training of African American preachers. By early 1867, the founders had broadened their mission to include a liberal arts college and university. They decided to name the university for Major General Oliver O. Howard, a Civil War hero and Commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau, a U.S. government agency established in 1865 to aid freed blacks. Howard was also one of the early founders of the institution in Washington. Â Continue reading
In 1865, barely six months after the end of the Civil War and just two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, three men â€” John Ogden, the Reverend Erastus Milo Cravath, and the Reverend Edward P. Smith â€” established the Fisk School in Nashville.
The school was named in honor of General Clinton B. Fisk of the Tennessee Freedmen’s Bureau, who provided the new institution with facilities in former Union Army barracks near the present site of Nashville’s Union Station. In these facilities Fisk convened its first classes on January 9, 1866. The first students ranged in age from seven to seventy, but shared common experiences of slavery and poverty â€” and an extraordinary thirst for learning. Continue reading