Richard Allen (1760-1831), was a Methodist minister, educator, and founder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) denomination in America in 1816. Born into slavery in Philadelphia, Allen purchased his freedom in 1777 and, having been involved in a Methodist society while a slave, subsequently travelled the Methodist preaching circuits in the surrounding areas. His preaching attracted dozens of blacks into the church and thus contributed to racial tension and controversy within St George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. With the blessing of Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury, Allen started a new Methodist denomination which combined Wesleyan theology with specific efforts aimed at uplifting African-Americans economically and socially. Throughout his ministry Allen was committed to an independent African-American church and to ending the persecution and discrimination of blacks in America.
For futher reading see C.V.R. George, Segregated Sabbaths: Richard Allen and the Emergence of Independent Black Churches, 1760-1840 (Oxford, 1973).