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Day 27: Connecting Denmark Vesey, Mother Emanuel, and the Charleston 9

28 Days of Black History

Denmark Vesey

By Coshandra Dillard

If he had his way Denmark Vesey, a former enslaved man from South Carolina, would have led the largest slave revolt in United States history.
But his plans to get the help of as many as 9,000 slaves in South Carolina to collect arms and carry out an uprising was foiled, thanks to a few fearful slaves who told news of a rebellion to their masters.
Vesey defended himself at his trial, but was sentenced and hanged. About 35 other black people were hung, and 35 were sold to West Indian plantation owners.
As a result of Vesey’s but its end result was the passing of even stricter laws against African-Americans.
Vesey became a member of the newly founded African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1817 and was a leader there. The church was monitored closely, and its services often were disrupted white Charleston residents.
The church was burned after the rebellion was foiled, and officials passed laws to restrict rights of Charleston slaves even more.
Vesey became a martyr and a symbol for the abolitionist movement. After the Civil War, the church was rebuilt and named Emanuel AME (affectionately known as “Mother Emanuel”) with the help of architect Robert Vesey, the son of Denmark. It was later destroyed by an earthquake in 1886.

The Steeple of Emanuel African Methodist Church, Charleston. Photo by: Spencer Means, New York City, USA--Creative Commons

The Steeple of Emanuel African Methodist Church, Charleston. Photo by: Spencer Means, New York City, USA–Creative Commons


The current structure was built in 1891. It was the site of the Charleston shooting on June 17, 2015, when white supremacist Dylan Roof killed nine people who attended bible study: Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton, Clementa C. Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson.


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