African Meeting House Research

Essay add: 18-12-2015, 14:32   /   Views: 86
African Meeting House Research Paper

Established December 4, 1806, the African Meeting House, referred to in the larger community as the Black Faneuil Hall, is now the oldest standing African American church in the United States. The Meeting House is located on 8 Smith Court on Beacon Hill and is a site of the walking tour of the Black Heritage Trail, which traces the history of African Americans in Boston. The facade of the African Meeting House is an adaptation of a design for a townhouse published by Boston architect Asher Benjamin.

After the Revolutionary War the movement by African Americans to build and maintain their own church led to the foundation of the Meeting House. In White churches they were discriminated against so they started attending informal services led by a Black minister named Thomas Paul of New Hampshire. Paul and twenty of his members founded the First African Baptist Church in 1805. The church was built using labor and donations from the Black community and White abolitionist. Cato Gardner raised fifteen hundred dollars toward the total seventy-seven hundred dollars needed. Above the front door there is an inscription that reads, “Cato Gardner, first Promoter of this Building 1806.”

Land was purchased on the West End and one year later the African Meeting House was built. Originally intended for religious services it quickly became a central political and social institution for Blacks on Beacon Hill. It was also a school for Black children but then the Abiel Smith School was built, which is also a site on the Black Heritage Trail. The Meeting House was a safe forum for Blacks to discuss their issues, such as racism, equality, education, and they held anti-slavery meetings. This place was the canter of the abolition movement in the nineteenth century.

On January 6, 1832, William Lloyd Garrison founded the New England Anti-Slavery Society here. There were many speakers on the floor of the Meeting House. Maria Stewart, abolitionist and woman’s rights activist, was the first woman to speak before a mixed audience on political issues. A few other speakers were, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and David Walker.

The African Meeting House was remodeled by the congregation in the 1850s. At the end of the 19th century, when the black community began to migrate from the West End to the South End and Roxbury, the building was sold to a Jewish congregation. It served as a synagogue until it was acquired by the Museum of African American History in 1972. Its interior has since been restored to its known 1854 design. The African Meeting House symbolizes the spirit of liberty that characterizes Black Bostonians throughout the 1800's.

I feel that the African Meeting House served as a refuge for Black people. I searched for many monuments and this building was the one that spoke to me. I am not from here and it was more difficult for me to relate to other monuments. I was glad to see that the African Americans could have their own church and not have read about it being burnt down by angry racists. This building is a simple view of history. It is very straight forward. I agree with the reasoning of the building of the Meeting House. African Americans wanted to worship God but they did not want to deal with racism while doing that. Viewing this building once again proves the sayings, “With God all things are possible,” “God shows favor to the righteous,” and “With faith the size of a mustard seed you can move mountains.” And the African Americans of that time overcame adversity and discrimination to glorify God in their own way. The new generations should take the same initiative, not against slavery, but to do what people say they may not be able to do because of their skin color.

Works Cited
Museum of Afro American History. “Black Heritage Trail.” .

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