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January 16, 1821: Black missionaries Lott Cary and Collin Teague sailed to Liberia from Norfolk, VA. 

January 16, 2025

Lott Cary

Lott Cary was the first African-American missionary to Africa. He was responsible for the missionary movement that created a growing interest among African-Americans in the evangelization of Africa, as well as other parts of the world.

Lott Cary (also in records as Lott Carey and Lott Gary) (1780 – November 10, 1828) was an African-American Baptist minister and lay physician who was a missionary leader in the founding of the colony of Liberia on the west coast of Africa in the 1820s. He founded the first Baptist church in 1822, now known as Providence Baptist Church of Monrovia. He served as the colony’s acting governor from August 1828 to his death in November that year.


Born into slavery in Charles City County, Virginia, Carey purchased his freedom and that of his children at the age of 33 after saving money from being hired out by his master in Richmond. He became a supervisor in a tobacco warehouse, as the city was a major port for exporting that commodity crop.[1]

He emigrated in 1821 with his family to the new colony of Liberia, founded by the American Colonization Society for the resettlement of free people of color from the United States. Cary was one of the first black American missionaries and the first American Baptist missionary to Africa. He established the colony’s first church, founded schools for natives, and helped lead the colony.

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