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Last week we traced the history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church from its origins in 1787 to how it has expanded into the church of today. In light of the tragic events that shocked the nation when a gunman killed nine people attending Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, the connections within the denomination are personal and deeply rooted for me.
On today’s show I will go back and trace my AME roots that originate from the mid 1800s and share my American story so intertwined with our cultural past. From Georgia to Baltimore to the Midwest, the East Coast and around the United States, my family represents the essence of the AME Church. Faith, Education, Heritage and Family Reunions are the core ingredients that make my family so special to me.
I will also be joined by cousins Theresa Johnson and Keith Williams who will share their knowledge on how our Gaines Family Reunion started back in the 1980s. The legacy of the Gaines/Charleston/Bachelor families is the legacy of family ties embedded in the AME Church.
More Details About My Family:
My grandfather, Rev. James A. Charleston built the present site of St. Paul AME -Detroit and paid for it before dying in the pulpit in June 1961.
Rev. Charleston’s mother, Sarah Gaines Charleston was the wife of an AME minister and was the niece of Bishop Wesley John Gaines. Bishop Gaines was one of the founders of Morris Brown College (my grandmother’s alma mater). He also wrote 2-3 books before his death.
Rev. Charleston’s brother, Dr. Samuel P. Charleston was a celebrated principal of the segregated Carver High School in Columbus, Georgia and a lifelong AME. When he died at the age of 95 in 1999, the city designated him one of the top 100 citizens of the 20th Century.
Bishop Wesley John Gaines’ nephew was Bishop Abraham Lincoln Gaines.
The Gaines Family in Baltimore were closely linked to Thurgood Marshall’s family and Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie’s Family. My cousin, Josephine Gaines, just died in July (right before our family reunion) at the age of 86. She as the last living grandchild of Bishop Abraham Lincoln Gaines.
We have an extensive family tree that has been meticulously researched by my cousin Clarence Gaines in Chicago.
Another ancestor, Rev. William Gaines, was part of a ministerial delegation during important meeting with Major General William Tecumseh Sherman in Savannah, Georgia in January 12, 1865. Here is a link to the transcript of that meeting:
My family is FILLED with AME Ministers!!!
Here is an excerpt from the 1865 meeting describing my ancestor who attended:
6. William Gaines, aged forty-one years, born in Wills County, Ga.; slave "until the Union forces freed me;" owned by Robert Toombs, formerly U.S. Senator, and his brother, Gabriel Toombs; local preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church (Andrew's Chapel); in the ministry sixteen years.
Radio Broadcast for More Information About The Gaines Family Reunion:
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The Civil War ended in 1865, and now more than 150 years later the battle flag of the Southern states is still at the crossroads in South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia and elsewhere. From license plates to T-shirts to flags, the "stars and bars" remains a hateful symbol of slavery to the Black community.
With the execution of nine innocent African Americans merely attending Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015, the killer was a 21 year old White supremacist who cherished the Confederate flag.
With racial hatred and gun violence robbing this country of true progress, it’s time to take down the Confederate Flag and park it in a museum where it belongs.
For More On The Various Versions of the Confederate Flag Visit:
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.