Church: A Beacon of Hope in Amherstburg since 1848
in 1848, Nazrey A.M.E. Church was a terminus on the fa-mous Underground
Railroad. Many refugee slaves and oppressed free blacks first felt
true freedom within its walls.
crossing the Detroit River to Amherstburg, Ontario, one of the narrowest
points of entry, these individuals became people in a nation where
they were recognized and respected, some perhaps for the first time,
as fellow human beings.
arrival in Amherstburg they discovered that Nazrey played a significant
role in their new found life, initially, by offering itself as an
interim resting place until permanent housing could be found. Later,
it served as both a school, to educate those who had been denied
that privilege and as a centre of socialization where numerous everyday
skills (second nature to Europeans by right of birth) were taught.
the decades, many leaders within the Black community emerged because
of the Nazrey foundation. Nasa McCurdy, a former slave and stone
mason who helped build the church, had a descendant, Howard McCurdy,
elected as member of Canadian Parliament.
1975, an Annex, built by five members of the congregation and spearheaded
by Melvin and Betty Simpson, was created to house the first North
American Black Historical Museum. Its continuous mission, to preserve
and promote the often overlooked and untold history of Black culture,
a culture which has come to be known as the "Black Thread in the
focus includes the Underground Railroad, Canadian Black settlement
and the accomplishments and constitutions of the people of African
Simpson's were required to locate another site due to government
restrictions regarding church usages and to that end, raised over
$300,000 which allowed them to purchase the present museum building
which opened in September,1981, just months before Melvin Simpson
died. Betty Simpson remains active with the museum to this day.
Church has been undergoing a badly needed restoration and on September
23rd, the resurrection of Nazrey will be celebrated with a service
to mark its re-opening and recent National Historic Site Designation.
The day's events include baptisms of Nazrey descendants, a plaque
unveiling, Time Capsule activity, cake, and continuous musical tributes.
The opening ceremonies start at 11 a.m.
and the North American Black Historical Museum are located in Amherstburg
at 277 King Street. Call 736-5433 for directions or more information.
Story: Black Presence in Windsor & Sandwich