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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