Richard Allen was a Philadelphian minister, educator, and writer. He became one of America’s most influential early black leaders. In 1794 he founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first independent black church in the United States. He opened his first AME church in 1794 in Philadelphia, Pa. Allen worked to improve the social status of the black community in Philadelphia. Later in 1787 Allen and Absalom Jones founded the Free African Society in Philadelphia. The Free African Society advocated and worked for the abolition of slavery and provided medical assistance for the poor.