Learn about the Reverend Peter Spencer

By Carlton Hall, architectural historian with the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs

“Black History of the First State” is a new quarterly feature highlighting important people and events in Black history throughout Delaware. The posts are authored by Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Historian-Architectural Historian Carlton Hall Jr., in collaboration with Social Media Lead Desiree May, as a way of acknowledging and bringing awareness to the history, accomplishments and contributions made by African Americans in the First State between 1639 and 1993.

Hall has worked for the Division since 2015 but became enthralled in history beginning as a teenager while visiting Williamsburg, Virginia. 

“I wanted to initiate this project since giving presentations throughout the state on Delaware Green Book listings six years ago,” Hall said. “I saw that there was an interest in little known Black history of Delaware. Delaware should care because the first known African settled here (then known as New Sweden) as early as 1639. We should care because Black history is part of American history.”

Black History of the First State: The Reverend Peter Spencer (1782-1843)

Did you know Reverend Peter Spencer founded the Union Church of Africans, which was one of the first independent African American denominations in the country in 1813? Reverend Spencer also started the August Quarterly in 1814, which is the oldest African American religious festival. The Mother African Union Church, located at 819 French Street in Wilmington, renamed itself in 1866 after merging with the First Colored Methodist Protestant Church, and was later known as the A.U.M.P. Church.

To learn more about Spencer, check out this video on the Delaware Historical Society’s YouTube channel: “Peter Spencer: Father of the Independent Black Church Movement.”