Freedom's Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers

Freedom's Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers

Freedom's Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers

Freedom's Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers


The route to any coherent understanding of our time runs through the issues addressed in this collection of essays: the political meaning of Islam, the relation of the West to the Islamic world, the new form of imperialism signaled by the Soviet and U. S. occupations of Afghanistan, the intractable conflict over Palestine. In confronting these inescapable issues, global power is being reshaped and the ends for which it will be used are being decided.

This volume brings together Gilbert Achcar's major writings on these issues over the past decades. The essays collected in Eastern Cauldron describe and explain the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism, the fate of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and its aftermath, and above all the Palestinian conflict- in which the regional stakes are so dramatically embodied and contested. Achcar analyzes the social bases, strategies and tactics of PLO, Hezbollah, Israel and the United States from the establishment of the state of Israel to the second Intifada. He pinpoints the contradictions of the Israeli state- seeking at the same time to be Jewish and yet democratic- and the impact of these contradictions on all parties to the conflict.

Eastern Cauldron is primarily aimed at producing a better understanding of the conflicts of the region. Achcar's work is informed by strong moral and political commitments but is never limited to polemic. His work demonstrates the immense capacities of Marxism to illuminate economic, political, and ideological developments without losing sight of their concrete singularity and their complex interconnection. His analyses are supple and inventive, and consistently informed by reflection on rival traditions of political thought and a deep knowledge of the region.


If I could write but a part of my labors, it would fill a volume.

—Richard Allen, Life, Experience, and Gospel Labours

If you go to Philadelphia today and stop at the corner of Sixth and Lombard streets, you stand on hallowed ground. Here one of early America's leading reformers built an internationally famous church, wrote pamphlets of protest that served as models for generations to come, and championed liberty and justice for all. “He was one of the most talented people of his generation,” a distinguished scholar of the American Revolution has written; he was a true “Apostle of Freedom,” an early biographer declared. His name was Richard Allen. He was a black founder.

For those who visit “Mother Bethel,” as his South Philadelphia church is still called, objects big and small commemorate Allen as a black founder. A hand-fan informs its holders that the church “stands on the oldest parcel of ground continuously owned by blacks.” The simple object—made of the thinnest cardboard material but deceptively useful during the sweltering Philadelphia summers—also highlights Allen's organization of the first black reform society in America (the Free African Society) during the magical year of 1787. Knowing that many modern-day visitors will already have taken in the Liberty Bell and Independence Mall (where white American founders attempted to craft “a more perfect union”), the Mother Bethel fan implies that the formation of the Constitution was but one of the many key events occurring in Philadelphia that year. Black founder Richard Allen led another critical event less than a mile from where Washington, Franklin, Hamilton, and Adams once stood.

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