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St. Cyprian’s Church – Its Origin & Celestial Inferno

The first decade of the twentieth century saw the largest exodus of people from the former British West Indian Islands [and Guyana] to the shores of the United States. Although most of them settled in the Harlem and Brooklyn areas in New York, a considerable number came to the state of Massachusetts settling primarily in Boston and Cambridge. Concurrent with this movement came also African Americans from the southern states, some of whom were Episcopalians. The West Indians, who were predominantly Anglicans, and their African American counterparts, immediately sought membership in the Episcopal Church. Unfortunately, they were to experience the effects of racism and prejudice in a place where they least expected it – the church.

Many of them recounting their first experience at worshipping in an Episcopal Church describe not only a cold reception, but in many instances explicit rebuff that bordered on disdain. According to one founding member – "What we needed most was a sense of fellowship, a feeling of belonging and continuity. For us the church was the obvious place to turn to for these experiences but it provided none of these things." They recount stories of having to sit in segregated areas or the not so subtle message that they were not welcomed. It was out of this context of discrimination and humiliation that these Black Episcopalians decided to ban themselves together and to begin the process of building and owning their house of worship. It was out of these circumstances that St. Cyprian’s Church took its origin. http://www.stcyprians.org/history.html

St. Cyprian’s Celestial Infernos Youth Steelband, photo: Michael C Smith
St. Cyprian’s Celestial Infernos Youth Steelband of Roxbury, Massachusetts
Photo: Michael C Smith