The celebration of Absalom Jones was commemorated at Trinity Cathedral Church, Downtown. Absalom Jones (1746-1818) together with Richard Allen, were among the earliest ordained Black ministers in the United States. Jones was born in Delaware and sold to a Philadelphia storeowner at age 16. He later purchased freedom for both his wife and himself.

FRANK BOLDEN ESSAY CONTEST WINNER—From left: Nancy Bolden, widow of Frank E. Bolden; Al Mann, member of the Racism Commission; with Evan L.B. Berry, essay contest winner; and his mother A. Paige Berry. (Photos by Rossano P. Stewart)

Jones and Allen were educated by Quakers in Philadelphia where they were students at antislavery activist Anthony Benezet’s school. Following the segregation of Blacks in an Episcopal church in Philadelphia in 1786, Jones and Allen founded a Black congregation, St. Thomas African Episcopal Church.

This was the “Mother Church” for what became, beginning in 1816, the African Methodist Episcopal Church movement. Jones functioned as a minister in the Philadelphia community until his death, becoming one of the major African-American figures to emerge from the 18th century. The Frank E. Bolden Essay Contest was a part of the program.

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