First African American benevolent organization
Described as “two men of the African race, who, for their religious life and conversation have obtained a good report among men,” Absalom Jones and Richard Allen founded the Free African Society in 1787. As a faith-based benevolent organization, its purpose was to support free blacks “in sickness, and for the benefit of their widows and fatherless children.” Its mission expanded during the Yellow Fever epidemic in 1793, when Jones and Allen rallied the society’s membership to heroic service as nurses, cart drivers, and grave diggers for victims of the fever. The society also was instrumental in founding St. Thomas African Episcopal Church (1792) and Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church (1794).
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