Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, the site of last night’s horrific shooting, has a long and significant history in the Holy City. Here’s a little background information on the church.
- It is the oldest AME Church in the south
- It is also referred to as “Mother Emanuel”
- Has one of the largest (2,500 person capacity) and oldest black congregations south of Baltimore
The local church essentially began in 1816 when black members of Charleston’s Methodist Episcopal church withdrew from the congregation and formed several smaller churches
In 1822, Denmark Vesey, one of the church’s founders began to organize a slave uprising, but he was captured before it could take place. He, and five other alleged organizers, were executed.
Around this time, the AME church burned down by white supremacists
The church was rebuilt and services continued until 1834 when all black churches were outlawed in Charleston.
The congregation continued to worship in secret until the end of the Civil War in 1865. This is when the name Emanuel was adopted.
A wooden, two-story church was built on the present site in 1872, but was leveled by the massive Charleston earthquake of 1886
The current building was completed in 1891
- Famous speakers and visitors include:
- Booker T. Washington (1909)
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1962)
- Coretta Scott King (1969)
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