Free African, Anthony Taylor became a founding member of the first African heritage benevolent organization in America, the Free African Union Society in Newport in 1780. Taylor as Society President in 1789 would lead the effort to reach out to other free Africans across America to establish a network of African civic, religious and educational organizations. African communities he corresponded with included Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Providence. In his July 27, 1789 letter to “To All the Africans in Providence,” He called for a unification of free Africans along with a return to Africa because, “…We the members of the Union Society in Newport, taking into consideration the calamitous state into which we are brought by the righteous hand of GOD, being strangers and outcasts in a strange land…” He would organize early efforts to return to Africa, but never realized the dream of returning home, dying in Newport in 1799. He is buried in Newport’s “God’s Little Acre” burying ground, the oldest existing enslaved and free African heritage burying ground in America.
This is part of an ongoing series by Keith W. Stokes, Lead Researcher for the NPS Grant - Civil Rights in 20th Century Rhode Island.