Jarena Lee

Jarena Lee (1783 - 1855?) was the first woman authorized to preach by AME Bishop Richard Allen. He originally denied her request, to which she replied. “If the man may preach, because the Savior died for him, why not the woman, seeing he died for her also? Is he not a whole Savior, instead of half of one?” Eight years later when a guest preacher at Mother Bethel was unable to go on with his sermon, Mrs. Lee rose from her seat and continued. Bishop Allen then agreed to her request, and her journal notes that in one year she preached 178 sermons and traveled 2,325 miles.
This journal, The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee, was published in 1833, making her the first African American in the United States to publish an autobiography. Read an excerpt here