— Prince Edward County —
Beulah African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church
was founded in 1868. Originally, it was known as The Colored Methodist Church of Farmville. The original wooden-framed building was destroyed, by fire in 1898. The cornerstone on the present building was laid in 1901.
A protest against segregated seating and restricted participation in worship at St. Johns Episcopal Church in Philadelphia was the spark that ultimately gave rise to the AME Church. Richard Allen, a Philadelphia-born slave, and 42 followers marched out of St. Johns in November 1796 to begin creating a church of their own. Richard Allen founded the AME Church in 1816 and became its first bishop.
Beulah AME Church has a long history of struggle for civil rights. Rev. J.W. Beckett, the church's fourth pastor, led black students in demonstrations in the 1890s for the hiring of black teachers in the public schools. The demonstrations called attention to the fact that black teachers were graduating from other black schools and should be given the opportunity to teach their own people. As a result of these efforts, black teachers were hired in the county's public school system. In 1896, also under Rev. Beckett's tenure, the parsonage, which stands today alongside the church was built.
Rev. R.W. Barker, who pastored this parish for nine years, was instrumental in establishing the first NAACP Chapter in Prince Edward County, along with Rev. L. Francis Griffin, Pastor of First Baptist Church.
Rev. A. I. Dunlap and Rev. Goodwin Douglas, both of Beulah AME Church, worked diligently with the community from 1959 to 1964 when the county public schools were closed to avoid integration. During this period, Rev. Douglas was arrested for organizing and participating in youth demonstrations. Rev. Dunlap, who had been associated with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta, GE, persuaded Bishop Frank Madison Reid to allow the African-American Robert R. Moton High School Class of 1960 to complete their senior year at KittrelI College in North Carolina, while the county's schools were closed.