In the late 1700’s, African Americans experienced racism and discrimination attending Christian church services at primarily white congregations. In 1794, the African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in Philadelphia by Richard Allen, a former slave from Delaware, who sought a safe space for African Methodists to worship. During the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, clergy of the AME recruited many newly freed slaves into the church. As a result, AME spread across the United States.
The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Key West has been a staple of the African American community in the Bahama Village neighborhood since 1887. Originally built on Duval Street, the location was moved in 1923 to its present location on Truman Avenue after damages from the Hurricane of 1909, and a fire that some speculate were possibly the actions of the Ku Klux Klan in 1922.
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