101 Interesting Facts about Black Adventism

(In progress)

Compiled by Benjamin J. Baker


The Millerite Period (1831-1844)

-As a slave in Maryland, Frederick Douglass witnessed the falling of the stars in 1833 and believing it to be a sign of Jesus' second coming, rejoiced to be going to heaven with his Savior.

-Frederick Douglass' daughter, Rosetta Douglass-Sprague, became a Seventh-day Adventist in 1883, and attended church in Washington, D.C.

-Before God gave visions to Ellen G. White or Hazen Foss, he gave them to a black man named William Foy.  Foy faithfully shared what God revealed to him.

-A teenaged Ellen Harmon (later White) went with her father to hear Foy lecture on his visions. In the meetings at one time she sat by Foy's wife, Ann.  Later Ellen and Foy spoke with each other.  Ellen White states that "it was remarkable [the] testimonies that he bore."

-Sojourner Truth was at one time a Millerite, lecturing at Millerite campmeetings and on the speaking circuit. Her most distinguished biographer, Nell Irvin Painter, posits that her Millerite years were when Truth discovered herself and her mission in life.


The Sabbatarian Adventist Period (1845-1863)

-The first black Adventist minister was probably a man named Eri L. Barr (1814-1864).

-In 1855 a black man from Ontario, Canada, heard Joseph Bates and Eri Barr preach and embraced the truth, promising to share it in Canada.

-Among the earliest black Adventists was the William and Eliza Hardy family of Gaines Township, Michigan, accepting the Adventist message in the late 1850s.

-William F. and Mary M. Minisee were a black couple (both were probably biracial) who accepted Seventh-day Adventism in the late 1850s in Kent County, Michigan.

-James and Ellen White counted the Hardys among their friends, Ellen White writing the following in her diary on January 25, 1859: "It looks like a storm....We rode fourteen miles to Brother Hardy's. Brother Cramer did not give us the right directions, and we went four miles out of our way. Did not arrive at Brother Hardy's until dinner time. It was snowing fast. We were heartily welcomed by the family. A good dinner was soon in readiness for us of which we thankfully partook. This is a colored family but although the house is poor and old, everything is arranged with neatness and exact order. The children are well behaved, intelligent, and interesting. May I yet have a better acquaintance with this dear family." (Manuscript Releases, Volume 3, 139)

-The Hardy Family were not just pioneers in Adventism: William was the first black elected politician in the state of Michigan when in 1872 he was elected supervisor of Gaines Township; William and Eliza's son Eugene was the first black in Michigan to graduate from high school.

-Adventist pioneers such as Ellen White, J.N. Andrews, J.N. Loughborough and Uriah Smith identified the United States as the lamblike beast of Revelation 13 primarily by its ill-treatment of blacks in the institution of chattel slavery.

-Early Adventist writers were outspoken in their condemnation of American slavery, and were decidedly pro-Union during the Civil War.

-Church cofounder James White once claimed that “those of our people who voted at all at the last Presidential election, to a man voted for Abraham Lincoln. We know of not one man among Seventh-day Adventists who has the least sympathy for secession." (“The Nation,” Advent Review, and Sabbath Herald, August 12, 1862, pg. 84)


The Early Seventh-day Adventist Period (1863-1893)

-One of the main reasons Sabbatarian Adventists officially incorporated into the Seventh-day Adventist Church was over issues stemming from the Civil War, a war Ellen White insisted was fought to free the black captives.

-At the close of the Civil War at the 3rd General Conference session on May 17, 1865, SDA leaders adopted the following resolution: “Resolved, That a field is now opened in the South for labor among the colored people and should be entered upon according to our ability.” (“Report of the Third Annual Session of the General Conference of S.D. Adventists,” The Advent Review, and Sabbath Herald, May 23, 1865, 197)

-Anna Knight, born in 1874, was the daughter and granddaughter of Newton Knight, leader of the Free State of Jones uprising during the Civil War.

-Early Adventism's most resepected scholar, J.N. Andrews, wrote about the preservation of the seventh-day Sabbath in Ethiopia during the Dark Ages in his seminal work "History of the Sabbath and First Day of the Week" (pgs. 229-248).

-Ellen White drew on Andrews' research and highlighted the Ethiopians courageous steadfastness to God's true Sabbath while Europe was in darkness.

-James Patterson was the first black missionary to serve overseas when he left California to colporteur in Jamaica in 1892.


Turn-of-the-Century Adventism (1894-1910)

-Mary Britton was one of the most prominent civil rights activists of her day.  Paul Laurence Dunbar was so impressed with her that he penned a poem in her honor titled "To Miss Mary Britton."

-When Anna Knight arrived at the port in Calcutta, India, as an official missionary of the SDA church in 1901, she became the second black SDA sent on overseas missionary work by the General Conference, the first black SDA woman overseas missionary, and the first black of any denomination to be a missionary in India. The next year she was the first Adventist missionary to enter today's Pakistan.

-In 1910 Adventist lawyer James Alexander Chiles became the first black to argue before the Supreme Court when he presented the case against the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad for desegregation of railroad coaches after he was removed by force to the Colored coach in spite of his first class ticket from Washington D.C. to Lexington.