Black History and the United Church of Christ
From the Amistad to the presidency, the United Church of Christ (UCC) is forever entwined in the history of a people who stood with courage and pushed forward with faith.
1700: In an early stand against slavery, Congregationalists are among the first Americans to take a stand against slavery.
1773: A member of Old South in Boston, Phillis Wheatley becomes the first published African-American author.
1785: Pastor Lemuel Haynes is the first African-American ordained by a Protestant denomination.
1839: Enslaved Africans break their chains and seize control of the schooner Amistad. Some captives are arrested and held in jail while the ship’s owners sue to have them returned as property. Congregationalists and other Christians organize a campaign to free the captives. The Supreme Court rules the captives are not property and the Africans regain their freedom.
1846: First integrated anti-slavery society. Lewis Tappan, one of the Amistad organizers, organizes the American Missionary Association - the first anti-slavery society in the U.S. with multiracial leadership.
1862-77: The American Missionary Association starts six colleges: Dillard University, Fisk University, LeMoyne-Owen College, Huston-Tillotson College, Talladega College and Tougaloo College.
1959: Southern television stations impose a news blackout on the growing civil rights movement, and Martin Luther King Jr. asks the UCC to intervene. The decision leads to hiring of persons of color in television studios and newsrooms.
1973: The Wilmington Ten - 10 civil rights activists - are charged with the arson of a white-owned grocery store in Wilmington, N.C. The UCC’s General Synod raises bail.
1976: First African-American leader of an integrated denomination. General Synod elects the Rev. Joseph H. Evans president of the United Church of Christ. He becomes the first African-American leader of a racially integrated mainline church in the United States.