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Man Escapes Lynching in Church

Source: Bettmann / Getty

A group in Hastings, Minnesota says they are on a mission to excavate the history and share information about Brown Chapels African Methodist Episcopal Church, established in 1891.  According to Rex Chapman, Black people worshipped with their white neighbors at a church on Vermillion Street but reportedly did not feel welcome.  They purchased a white frame church that was 24 by 36 feet, located at the corner of Fifth and Sibley streets, for $500.  Black people from the community worshipped there for 15 years.  However, the church was eventually set on fire.  Following the church’s destruction, there was no investigation, and Black people left the town in masses. According to City-Data.com, in 2019, Hastings’ black population was 1.7%.

The group consists of artists and one of the descendants of the church’s founders.  The project’s title, Building Remembrance for Reconciliation, or BR4R, was created to commemorate Brown Chapels’ history. The group says that by sharing the story, it breaks generations of silence on this topic.