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"Baptist leader. In 1866 he organized first black Baptist association in N.C.; trustee, Shaw University. Grave 2 mi. SE." Lemuel Washington Boone (1827-1878) of Hertford County was a leader of African American Baptists in North Carolina during the Reconstruction era. In 1866 he organized on Roanoke Island the East Roanoke Association, the first black Baptist association in the state. The following year he moderated the organizational meeting of the General Association of the Colored Baptists of North Carolina, the first statewide black Baptist association and the direct forerunner of the present-day General Baptist Convention of North Carolina. Praised by Carter Woodson as a “preacher of power,” Boone is said to have “possessed a gift of oratory and mental ability seldom excelled by men of the best opportunities.”
Boone, a free black born in Northampton County, worked as a brick mason and teacher preceding the Civil War. Relocated to Hertford County, Boone organized twenty churches with over 3,000 members in the area. In that respect he had been compared with Harry Cowan, black Baptist preacher of Salisbury before the war, who organized numerous congregations.
The inaugural meeting of the statewide organization took place in 1867 in Goldsboro and was timed to coincide with the annual Baptist State Convention (white) from whose members they received counsel and support. Boone presided over the first meeting as temporary president. The slate of permanent officers was approved at the same meeting when William Warrick was selected president and Boone secretary.
Boone, who served as the fifth president of the group, sought a reconciliation between the white and black Baptists and opposed a rule requiring that white churches dismiss former slaves who ran away to join the Union army. He served as one of seven original trustees of Shaw University. Boone was regularly praised in the pages of the Biblical Recorder by white Baptists for his work. At his death in 1878, the minutes of his association recorded that “it is safe to say that from his ordination till his death, no person in eastern North Carolina exerted a wider and more lasting influence among his people than Elder Boone.” In 1913 a monument was erected at his grave and C. S. Brown, founder of Chowan Academy, spoke at the dedication.
Carter G. Woodson, The History of the Negro Church (1921)
Charles B. Williams, A History of the Baptists in North Carolina (1901)
J. A. Whitted, A History of the Negro Baptists of North Carolina (1908)
Proceedings of the First Annual Session of the General Association of the Colored Baptists of North Carolina, October 16-17, 1867 (1869)
“An Act to Incorporate the Shaw University” (1870)
John L. Bell Jr., “Baptists and the Negro in North Carolina During Reconstruction,” North Carolina Historical Review (October 1965): 391-409
Baptist Informer (December 1992)—newsletter of the General Baptist Convention
Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
North Carolina Civil War Historical Markers.