Black Christians Who Have Made an Impact

In my previous article for this magazine, “Why We Christians Should Accept Asexuals,” I explained (among other things) why asexuality – meaning never experiencing sexual attraction – is not a sin and why asexual Christians should be accepted in Christianity and not thought of as sinners or as not truly Christian. 

In considering asexuality and Christianity, it is also interesting to note that Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit are asexual, which we can know since none of them have been depicted as feeling sexual attraction in the Bible, and it would surely have been noted down as an important fact if they did. Now I want to turn my attention from asexuals to another minority. This being Black History Month, I thought it would be interesting to tell the stories of some lesser-known black Christians.

Left: Richard Allen/ Right: Harriet Tubman

All the way back in 1794, Richard Allen founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and became bishop of that church in 1816. It is called such because it was created by people of African descent, but it welcomes people of all races.

Harriet Tubman, born in 1822, is well-known for rescuing herself and many others from slavery, but one thing many people do not realize is that most of her life she had visions from God and credited God with helping her in her mission of freedom.

Left: Augustus Tolton/ Right: Ida Robinson

Augustus Tolton was the first person known to be black (that is, not passing for white) when he was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest to serve in the United States, which occurred in 1886. He studied in Rome, and was ordained there, but was born in the United States and served as a priest in Illinois. He was declared “Venerable” in 2019, which is two steps from becoming a saint – behind being beatified and then canonized a saint.

Ida Robinson, whose preaching stressed holiness, founded the Mount Sinai Holy Church of America in 1924. Mount Sinai grew quickly and soon spread all over the East Coast. It still exists today.




Left: Josephus Pius Barbour/ Right: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Josephus Pius Barbour, an American Baptist pastor, was a mentor to someone who would become a very well-known black Christian – Martin Luther King, Jr. When King was a teenager, Barbour took him under his wing and King went on to study at Crozier Theological Seminary. One of King’s biographers, Lawrence D. Reddick, even stated that King credited Barbour as one of the single most influential forces in his life, and they wrote to each other until King’s death.

So although it’s wonderful to remember Martin Luther King, Jr., when you think of black Christians, as many do, I hope in the future you will be able to remember some of these other interesting and godly black people as well.

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Lisa Petriello

Lisa Petriello is a freelance Christian writer whose favorite hobbies are skiing and snowboarding.