Born: January 23, 1837 (Long Green, Maryland)
Died: February 24, 1915 (Sebring, Florida)
Famous For/Known For:
Former slave who inspired both black and white women
A Little About Amanda Berry Smith:
Born into slavery, Smith’s father, Samuel, worked day and night until he earned enough money to buy freedom for him and his family. The family then moved to a farm in Pennsylvania where their home was a station for the Underground Railroad.
At age thirteen she decided to leave home and worked in several white households performing domestic work.
In 1856, while she was ill, she had a dream that she was preaching. When she was well she envisioned a life devoted to evangelism.
Smith moved away to Philadelphia where she met and married James Henry Smith. He was a coachman and also an ordained deacon in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He promised before they were married that he would take a more active role in ministry. He never kept that agreement. Smith began feeling that her husband’s demeanor was getting in the way of her spiritual growth. Their marriage was also shaky due to the deaths of all three of their young children.
In 1868, Smith finally received the blessing she had been waiting for and told people she “felt the touch of God from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet.” She shouted praise and rejoiced. From then on she knew that dedicating her life to religion was what she was supposed to do.
In 1870, she expanded her religious activities and began working full time doing spiritual work. She began participating in national Holiness camp meetings where she would preach and sing. She was invited to address audiences, both mixed and white. She went on to become the most recognized itinerant black woman preacher of the 19th century.
In 1878, she participated in Holiness conventions and temperance revivals in England, Ireland, and Scotland. She then traveled to India.
In 1882, she proceeded to bring her preaching to West Africa where she started a Christian school for boys.
In 1899, with her own money and contributions from her supporters, she opened the Smith Industrial School for Girls, a home for black orphans. It operated until it burnt in 1918.
Amanda Berry Smith died at the age of 78.
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