Postal Service Honors Richard Allen With a Stamp

Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, is the latest person to be honored with a stamp. It’s the 200th anniversary of the church.

Richard Allen - United States Postal Service USPS Stamp

Stamp image courtesy the United States Postal Service

The United States Postal Service yesterday unveiled its new stamp honoring Richard Allen, the 39th in its Black Heritage series.

Richard Allen was born into slavery in Delaware in 1760, but eventually purchased his freedom. He moved to Philadelphia and founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1816. Allen was elected and consecrated as AME’s first bishop.

“Richard Allen was a man of boundless stature, courage and determination. The Postal Service is pleased to dedicate this special commemorative Forever stamp in his honor,” said Joshua D. Colin, the postal service VP who dedicated the stamp. “Frederick Douglass and later Martin Luther King Jr., both said that they were influenced by how Bishop Allen seemed to channel a higher power to work through him to shepherd blacks through some of this country’s darkest days. I hope this stamp will inspire every American to learn more about this uplifting man.”

The ceremony dedicating the stamp was held at the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, at 6th and Lombard streets in Center City. The congregation has been located at the site since 1794, making it the oldest church property in the United States to be continuously owned by African Americans.

Richard Lawrence, an eighth-generation descendant of Allen, spoke at the event — as did prominent AME members like Vernon Jordan and Henry Louis Gates. “Hopefully he’s a model for people to aspire to, maybe somebody will go further, do more than he can do,” Lawrence said.

The stamp is not the only aspect of the 200th anniversary of the AME Church. The congregation is planning a statue of Allen as the centerpiece of a memorial courtyard at 6th and Lombard streets. A mural is also in the works.

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