John Berry Meachum: The Educational Revolutionary Not Mentioned In History Class

John Berry Meachum: The Educational Revolutionary Not Mentioned In History Class

There are lots of African or Blacks who have done a really great and impeccable job in helping out the Black movement that were not acknowledged the name John Berry might ring a bell or sound familiar to most, as Berry happened to be one man whose role played during the time of slavery was greatly undermined, but we will, however, be looking at who he is, how he contributed to the movement of black slavery, and how he was unappreciated.

Who Was John Berry?

Born in Virginia on the 3rd of May 1789, John Berry Meachum, before his death at age 64 in St. Louis, Missouri on the 26th of February 1854, was an American preacher, or pastor, as most might call him, a successful businessman, educator, and the founder of St. Louis’ First African Baptist Church, which happens to be the oldest black church west of the Mississippi River.

During his active days on earth, Meachum ran a school in the basement of the church at a period when it was unlawful in the city to teach blacks to read and write. He also created the Floating Freedom School on a steamboat on the Mississippi River to get around a Missouri state statute prohibiting black people from receiving an education.

He successfully led 75 enslaved individuals from Kentucky to freedom in Indiana, a free state, while he was in his prime. He and his wife, Mary Meachum, became Underground Railroad conductors after settling in Missouri. They also bought enslaved people and brought them into their homes until they earned enough money to pay off their debt. Meachum was reported to be a slave who managed to buy his freedom.

” The term Negro is believed to have originated from the Niger river located in Africa, but it is now used as a term of reproach by both black and white people. We must therefore stop it, for unless we do, others will use and apply those terms to us with impunity, ” he said in his famous address to the colored citizens of the United States. Yes, the big calamity is that you do not respect yourselves enough; families, societies, and religious denominations speak badly of one another, destroying in large part the power that they could otherwise have. “

His Church And School

After being ordained, Berry Meachum built separate structures for his school and church after being ordained, naming it ” The Candle Tallow School. ” Peck and John Berry began teaching both religious and secular subjects to both free and enslaved African- Americans. For those who could afford it, he charged only $1, and for those who couldn’ t, he didn’ t charge at all. Meachum’ s church was one of five in St. Louis that provided instruction through Sunday school, and more than 1, 000 freemen and slaves attended Sunday school in Meachum’ s church’ s dark basement.

He was compelled to close the school after the state of Missouri approved an ordinance prohibiting the education of free blacks. They had originally allowed blacks to attend school in order to strengthen Christianity. However, racial tensions forced them to see educated blacks as a threat.

In 1847, the state outlawed all black schooling and also made it illegal for blacks to have their own religious services without the supervision of white law enforcement. In reaction to the restrictions, he relocated his courses to a steamboat in the Mississippi River’ s center, where he was able to stock the school with all of the necessities, including desks, books, and chairs, and dubbed it the ” Floating Freedom School. “

His School In Mississippi

According to certain historians, ” the Mississippi River was not seen as federal territory, and the federal government did not recognize slavery. ” As a result, John Berry assumed that his boat would be safe. It was also beyond the reach of state authorities.

One of Meachum’ s many students at that time was James Milton Turner. Following the Civil War, he established the Lincoln Institute, Missouri’ s first black higher education institution. John Berry and his wife, Mary Meachum, worked tirelessly to free enslaved people through the underground railroad, which allowed people to go to free states and purchase their freedom with money obtained from his carpentry company.

In conclusion, Berry Meachum’ s beliefs on education, particularly for African- Americans, were that black people required practical, hands- on instruction so that they could easily equip themselves once they were no longer enslaved. Meacham says of education.

Take a look at the Quakers or Friends. They continue with their routines. Everything around them is neat and tidy. They instill a work ethic in their children and provide them with a good education. ” Can’ t we take a cue from them? “

Even after his death in 1854, his legacy lives on among African Americans, educators, religious leaders, and people all around the world.

Thanks for reading.

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