E.K. Love

Despite being born in to slavery, Emanuel K. Love went on on become a college graduate, a fearless fighter for Black rights, and the reverend of one of the oldest churches in the United States.

According to the Georgia Encyclopedia:

E. K. Love (1850-1900) was a prominent Baptist leader and writer in nineteenth-century Georgia. Dedicated to fighting racism, Love was also a political activist whose efforts in Savannah foreshadowed the civil rights movement. Emmanuel King Love was born into slavery on July 27, 1850, in Perry County, Alabama, and was educated privately. Having accepted the call to ministry in 1868, Love attained a bachelor’s degree from the Augusta Institute (later Morehouse College) in 1877. He served as pastor of a number of churches, including the historic First African Baptist Church in Savannah from 1885 to 1900.A denominational leader, Love headed the black Georgia Baptist State Convention, the Baptist Foreign Mission History of the First African Baptist Church Convention (in 1889, 1890, 1891, and 1893), and the National Baptist Convention. In addition, Love served as a missionary to black Georgians, representing predominantly white, northern Baptist societies. He edited the Baptist Truth and the Centennial Record and was the associate editor of the Georgia Sentinel, all of which were black Baptist newspapers. He also wrote History of the First African Baptist Church (1888) and helped to establish what would become Savannah State College (later Savannah State University).A Republican activist, Love supported temperance, fought disenfranchisement, and vigorously opposed discrimination and Jim Crow segregation in all areas of public life. There is evidence that he was subjected to physical abuse because he refused segregated train seating. In the late 1890s Love supported the establishment of an independent African American Baptist national publishing house, and before his sudden death on April 24, 1900, he helped to establish Savannah’s first privately owned black bank.

Emanuel didn’t just fight for Black rights, but for the rights of darker-skinned Black people during a time when lighter skin ruled. According to his Wikipedia page:

In 1890, Love and Richard R. Wright Sr. were in a dispute with William WhiteJudson LyonsHenry A. Rucker, and especially John H. Deveaux, who was in control of Georgia’s African American Republic Party machinery. The dispute centered around leadership of the party district nomination conventions. Lyons, Rucker, and Deveaux were all supported by patronage of Booker T. Washington of the Tuskegee Institute and were identified with light-skinned elites, while Love and Wright (and Charles T. Walker) represented a “black” or “darker-skinned” faction, although skin color was not as important as political allegiance and ideology.[14] Dispute within the Baptist church continued as well, and by 1890, Love and Bryan were calling for blacks to stop participating in the American Baptist Missionary Society’s educational programs, although White was more friendly, and in 1892, the dispute led to separatism at the state convention.[5]

Love’s voter registration from 1896 (halfway down the left-hand page)
1900 Census (Love and his family begin on line 85)
According to the Savannah Vital Records, Love died from pneumonia.
Love’s probate record from his will, in which his friend Richard R. Right is tasked in carrying out.

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