How far we have come

Colbert I. King, an op-ed columnist for the Washington Post, writes today about what he considers a remarkable week, imagining how mid-19th century Episcopal priest Alexander Crummell might view Obama’s nomination. But that’s perhaps the most visible development that would please Crummell, who, as an African American, founded two Episcopal parishes in the District of Columbia in the 19th century that continue to this day, nearly 150 years later.

Crummell would have contrasted those achievements with his own life experiences.

His enrollment at Noyes Academy in New Hampshire ended abruptly when a white mob, angered by his presence, dragged the school building into a swamp.

Crummell would have recalled his own tortuous journey to the priesthood. The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church denied his application because he was black. Even after completing private studies with sympathetic clergy and being ordained as a priest by the Episcopal bishop of Delaware in 1844, Crummell wasn’t accepted by many of his white clerical counterparts.

Frustrated, Crummell took his family to London to raise money for a small church mission in New York and to spread the word about the abolitionist movement in America. While in England, he was given the financial means to attend Queen’s College, where he acquired a theology degree. From London, Crummell sailed to Liberia and served as a missionary in West Africa for 20 years.

More about this fascinating history–and outburst of optimism–is here.

Past Posts