Connecticut Street Corner Renamed After 19th-Century Pastor Who Defied Racial Segregation & Founded Black Church

The streetcorner adjacent to a historic Dixwell church will be named after an early 19th-century Methodist minister who defied racial segregation and founded the congregation.

During Monday night’s full Board of Alders meeting in the Aldermanic Chambers on the second floor of City Hall, alders voted unanimously to permanently rename the northwest corner of Dixwell Avenue and Charles Street “Bishop James Varick Corner.”

Varick founded the historic Methodist congregation, now known as Varick Memorial A.M.E. Church, in 1818 alongside 35 enslaved New Haven African-Americans. The congregation has been based out of a church at that same corner of Dixwell and Charles for 110 years.

Prospect Hill/Newhallville Alder Steve Winter offered a brief history lesson on Varick’s congregation during a short speech before the full board on Monday night.

He said that Varick, a Methodist minister from New York, came to New Haven in 1818 at the request of black parishioners from a local Episcopal church that was run by a staunch segregationist.

Varick led 35 enslaved African American parishioners away from the segregationist’s congregation and towards founding a new church, which was called the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, and then the A.M.E. Zion Church.

Winter noted the church was founded 30 years before slavery was officially abolished in Connecticut in 1848, and 12 years before the last enslaved Africans were sold on the New Haven Green in 1812.

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Source: New Haven Independent