Black Church Figures You Should Know - Samuel Cornish

Why the series?

Historical Theology and Church History in the African American context is rarely celebrated. That is a very sad occasion. There is much we can learn from the rich tradition of the African American church. When we do, it affirms the great doctrine that all men are created in the Image of God and it kills the great sin of intellectual racism.

What about the series?

A few things must be noted about our list. First and foremost, please be aware that appearances on the list do not automatically confirm theological content and biblical orthodoxy. Please consider each figure in light on proper biblical interpretation and refer to our statement of beliefs when in doubt. Secondly, this list is nowhere near being exhaustive in scope or content. We are barely scratching the surface and this is merely the tip of the iceberg. We considered appearances on the list by surveying several avid supporters for their considerations based upon the figures of significant impact, rich content, and historical significance.

Samuel Cornish

Samuel Cornish may not be a frontrunner of familiarity concerning black history but he is definitely noteworthy nonetheless.  Cornish along with John B. Russworn founded the first black newspaper in the United States: Freedom's Journal.

Samuel Cornish was born of free parents in Sussex County, Delaware in 1795. He was then raised in Philadelphia where he graduated from the Free African school. Shortly after, he began training to become a Presbyterian minister under the leadership of John Gloucester. In 1822, Cornish was ordained and subsequently organized the first black Presbyterian Church in New York, the New Demeter Street Presbyterian Church.

In addition to being a pastor, Cornish also became a journalist.  It was the goal of Cornish and John Russwurm to create a medium to allow blacks to "plead our own cause." Out of that motivation, the Freedom's Journal was birthed on March 16, 1827.  The newspaper was circulated througout 11 states and there were even issues in Canada, Europe, and Hati.

Cornish continued to be an advocate for African Americans as he was also an abolishionist, a leader at the New York African Free School promoting the need for parents to send their children to school and he also served as an editor for various publications across the country whose goal was to promote the welfare of blacks in America. Cornish died in Brooklyn on November 6, 1858.

For more information visit: Samuel Cornish( Samuel Cornish (

PBS - Freedom's Journal(