Date: c. 1900
Description: This image is of a group of children, probably a Sunday school, in front of Malone African Methodist-Episcopal (AME) Church at 513 Main Street on the Westside. The AME is the oldest independent Protestant denomination in the world founded primarily by people of African descent. It also has the unique distinction of the first major denomination in the West that developed out of sociological, not theological, differences. It was founded in Philadelphia in 1816 in protest against racial discrimination and slavery. As African Americans moved westward, so did the AME. The church came to Sioux City in 1887, when Reverend R. H. Williams and a group of African Americans in Sioux City wanted to form their own congregation here. The first services were held in a shed erected on a lot Williams and his followers had purchased, until the church built a proper building later in 1887. Malone AME is still in Sioux City today, serving Sioux City citizens of all races.
African Americans largely migrated to the Western United States to avoid the discrimination and persecution of the East Coast. They primarily stayed in the Northern states like Iowa, especially during the Civil War times. Job opportunities made them flock to the cities just like other immigrants. The first person of African descent in the Siouxland area was a man named York, a slave of Capitan William Clark. The first African American to take up residence here was John Brazo and his family who came here in 1848. Immigration increased steadily through the 19th and 20th due to advantages of jobs in the meatpacking industry. Since then some of Sioux City’s prominent figures have been African-American, like Oscar Micheaux, son of former slaves who became an author and filmmaker in Sioux City from 1919 to 1948, and Whit Dawkins, a field veterinarian who was the first African-American to be appointed as the director of the YMCA in Sioux City in the 1960s.
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