February in the United States is Black History Month. In honor of that month, each day in February will feature an African-American saint from different periods of the Civil Rights Movements in America.
Richard Allen, 1760 – 1831
Allen was born a slave in Virginia. After attending Methodist society meetings (free black and slaves were welcome), he joined the Methodists at the age of 17. When a minister came to his owner’s plantation and preached against the evil’s of slavery, Allen’s owner was moved and gave his slaves the opportunity to buy their freedom, which Allen did. After becoming a preacher, he found himself only allowed to participate and lead in certain situations because of his race. He and Absalom Jones led their black congregants out of their congregations, and Allen formed the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first truly independent black denomination in the United States. He also ran a station on the Underground Railroad, helping slaves escape to safety in the northern states.
Creating God, out of the sea of discrimination you called your servant Richard Allen to preach and lead your people, slaves and free, to safety. Guide us to provide safe havens for the oppressed in our midst. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.
Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, 1872 – 1906
Wright dedicated her life to education, even in the face of deadly resistance. She attended the Tuskegee Institute and left to help with a rural school for black children in South Carolina. When the school burned down, she returned to the Tuskegee Institute to graduate. She started many other schools in Denmark, South Carolina, but each was either burned down, blocked, or closed for other reasons. With donations from the Vorhees family, she opened the Vorhees Industrial School for high school age boys and girls, the only school in the area where black children could attend, where she served as principal. The school later affiliated with the Episcopal Church, became an accredited school, and is now one of the historically black colleges in the United States.
Revealing God, your servant Elizabeth Evelyn Wright brought education to the oppressed even in the face of fierce opposition. Give us the strength to face those who oppose justice and use education to challenge injustice. In the name of your Son, we pray. Amen.