Richard Allen was born to slave parents in Philadelphia on 14th February, 1760. He was sold to a farmer in Delaware and in 1777 became a Methodist convert.
His master allowed him to preach in public and in 1786 he purchased his freedom and moved to Philadelphia where he conducted prayer meetings for blacks.
Dissatisfied with the restrictions placed on blacks who attended church services, in 1787 Allen helped organize an Independent Methodist Church. They converted an old blacksmith shop into America's first church for black people.
In 1816 Allen helped establish the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and he was elected as its first bishop. The following year Allen joined with James Forten to form the Convention of Color. The organization argued for the settlement of escaped black slaves in Canada but was strongly opposed to any plans for repatriation to Africa. Other leading figures that became involved in the movement was William Wells Brown, Samuel Eli Cornish and Henry Highland Garnet.
Richard Allen died on 26th March, 1831.