Richard Robinson was an important and neglected figure in the early history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The AME Church's success in its first forty-six years of existence should be attributed partly to Robinson's wise, patient, and steady long-term leadership. This study examines his conversion and call to the ministry. It closely analyzes his interest in transnational ministry, especially his mission work in Haiti. In addition, it pays attention to his role as a pastor and mentor to other clergy, the limitations to which his lack of literacy subjected him, his cautious antislavery activity, and the impetus to civil rights activity caused by Robinson's sudden demise while riding a segregated Philadelphia streetcar. The article also examines methodological limitations relating to working with illiterate subjects. Robinson's combination of idealism in education, commitment to transnational ministry, and pragmatism in politics helped to shape the AME Church for generations to come.

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