Richard Allen
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Color photograph of Richard Allen

Credit: Courtesy of Urban Archives

In May of 1787, as the Constitutional Convention prepared to convene in Philadelphia, Richard Allen and Absalom Jones formed the Free African Society. Begun as a non-denominational religious mutual aid society for the black community, it soon became the center of black religious life in Philadelphia. Allen withdrew from the Free African Society in 1789, and in 1794 founded Bethel, which became the "Mother" church of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first independent black denomination.

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