A stamp from the United States Postal Service depicting Reverend Richard Allen was unveiled this week at the Philadelphia church he founded centuries ago.
Roughly two months ago, during an episode of Black and Bold Voices™ – a quarterly online panel discussion featuring black men around the world and the issues that unite them, organized by Techbook Online and The Dr. Vibe Show – I interviewed two activists about specific eras of black activism: the 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries. And of those two men, one was Rev. Mark Kelley Tyler, a scholar, activist and current pastor of the historic Mother Bethel A.M.E Church, a Philadelphia institution of faith founded in 1791 by Mr. Richard Allen – one the 19th Century civil rights leaders that was discussed that afternoon during the December 19th, 2015 live broadcast – after he walked out in protest of his place of worship when they introduced segregated pews that regulated African-Americans to the back of the sanctuary.
The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s can be traced back to the founding of Mother Bethel, Rev. Tyler suggested on the global airwaves. The frame for which we discussed Rev. Allen that day, who was born into slavery with the name Negro Richard but changed it when he purchased his freedom, was an inquiry into why he – and his peers, like Harriet Tubman and Mr. Nat Turner – isn’t widely considered by Americans or American media as a civil rights leader, and why his acts of civil disobedience doesn’t grant him the regard of being known as an architect of America’s civil rights movement.
“The civil rights movement started the day Richard Allen and Absalom Jones walked out that church,” declared Mr. Richard Lawrence, a descendant of the revolutionary preacher, today at Mother Bethel A.M.E, where a U. S postage stamp baring the reverend’s likeness was unveiled, making it the 39th stamp in the United States Postal Service’s black heritage series.
The Philadelphia Daily News noted that The ‘Richard Allen Forever’ stamp “coincides will the 200th anniversary of the 1816 conference of African-American Methodist ministers called by Allen to form a new independent African-American Methodist Episcopal Church.”
Mr. Lawrence credited Rev. Tyler, among many others, for the materialization of such a visible tribute.
“This isn’t African-American history, this is American history,” stated Philadelphia Mayor, Mr. Jim Kenney, who didn’t consider himself worthy to speak from the same pulpit where Rev. Allen commanded attention.
Many today stood at that historic pulpit and assigned numerous monikers, including the “Apostle of Freedom,” and “America’s Most Courageous and Principled Son,” to the long-deceased reverend who’s buried, along with his wife, in the church’s basement, where, too, exists a museum dedicated to the legacy of Rev. Allen.
The accomplishments of Rev. Allen – who, according to Rev. Tyler, in penning and publishing his account of happenings during the Yellow Fever epidemic of the late 1700s became the first African-American recipient of a U.S copyright – have been “systemically ripped from the history books,” asserted Mr. Kenney, whose been mayor for less than a month and who has garnered a reputation for speaking frankly and candidly about race and justice.
The reason they excluded Rev. Allen from America’s history books is so white Americans wouldn’t be aware of Black Americans’ contributions, thus they’d have no reason to perceive them as equal, the Mayor suggested during his short remarks.
One of several speakers today said Rev. Allen’s work – building a black institution that’s stood the test of time – proves that all men were created equal. Another said today is great day in history!
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™