This article examines the defense of Richard Allen and Absalom Jones against the pejorative stereotyping of African Americans during the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793. Their defense links stories of compassion and self-sacrifice by African Americans toward those suffering from the disease to the themes present in the parable of the Good Samaritan, thus establishing African Americans as neighbors deserving of equality. The themes of stereotyping and racial differentiation found in the Samaritan parable are explored and applied to the situation in Philadelphia in the 1790s. The qualities of the Samaritan man are next compared to African Americans offering aid during the yellow fever, drawing on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s description of the Samaritan’s altruism. The article concludes by noting how Allen and Jones’s printed defense functions in similar ways to the Good Samaritan parable, in its objective to overturn expectations about who should ultimately be considered a neighbor.

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