On February 12, 1865, – 150 years ago – Rev. Henry Highland Garnet, a former slave and now pastor of the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., became the first African American to speak in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. His sermon was delivered on Sunday, February 12, 1865 within days of Congress’s adoption of the 13th Amendment banning slavery. A number of Republican leaders thought the occasion merited a public religious service to commemorate the event. They extended the invitation to Rev. Garnet. His sermon titled, “Let the Monster Perish,” can be read in its entirety on this African American History site.
The Historical Society of Kent County will commemorate the anniversary at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12 with the Rev. Ellsworth Tolliver reading excerpts from the speech at the Charles Sumner GAR Post No. 25, 206 S. Queen St. Professor Alisha Knight of Washington College will give an introductory commentary. Jim and Diane Landskroener will appear as Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln.
Read the Kent County News article written by Peter Heck about Garnet and his life in Kent County and beyond for more details about this accomplished man.