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Sandy Dwayne Martin

clergyman, community activist, denomination organizer, and black nationalist was born Albert Buford Cleage Jr., one of seven children of Pearl (whose maiden name is now unknown) and Albert Cleage Sr., in Indianapolis, Indiana. Shortly after Agyeman's birth, Cleage, Sr., a medical doctor, relocated with his family to Detroit, Michigan, where the father helped to establish the city's first African American hospital. After an undergraduate education that included a stay at Fisk University in Tennessee, Agyeman received his BA in Sociology from Wayne State University in 1937, serving as a caseworker for the Department of Public Welfare from 1931 to 1938. Subsequently Agyeman felt the call to ministry and obtained a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Oberlin College Graduate School of Theology in 1943. Also in 1943Agyeman married Doris Graham, to which union was born two children, Kris and the ...


Tina C. Jones

bishop, founder, and overseer of the National Convention of the Churches of God, Holiness, and civil rights leader, was born in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Mr. and Mrs. Senior and Lottie Burruss. The 1880 U.S. Census for Louisiana in East Baton Rouge listed his parents' household as follows (young King had not been born yet): Senior Burris (spelling of surname) 34, father; Lottie, 28, mother; William, 9, brother; Senior, 7, brother; Emma, 4, sister; and Benjamin, 1, brother. Living beside them were other close Burris relatives. According to King Hezekiah Burruss: And 25 Years of Progress, King H. Burruss was born three miles from Baton Rouge into a deeply religious family His father was a farmer and was able to afford to hire private teachers for his children as Negro children had no school to attend in that part of the state at that ...


Charles Rosenberg

a minister who helped consolidate the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church in the postbellum South, was born Jesse B. Colbert in Cedar Creek township, Lancaster County, South Carolina, the son of farm laborers Tillman Colbert and Mariah House Colbert. Neither of his parents could read, but they made sure their children attended school (1870 and 1880 Census, Kentucky Death Certificate). Colbert attended county schools until the age of eighteen and then entered Lancaster High School, originally called the Pettey High School after its founder and principal, Rev. (later Bishop) Charles Calvin Pettey, pastor of the Lancaster Courthouse AMEZ church.

After teaching school himself in South Carolina, Colbert entered Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina, in January 1883, shortly after it was established by Dr. Joseph Charles Price, who served as president from 1882 to 1888. Bishop James Walker Hood recorded that Colbert ...


Peter Limb

South African political leader, educationalist, editor, and writer, was born on the Inanda mission of the American Board Mission. Here he was first schooled, moving to Amanzimtoti (Adams College), and then Oberlin College, Ohio (1887 to 1891). His pamphlet A Talk upon My Native Land (1891) evokes an early interest in industrial education and tension between Christian moralizing and African identity. Family roots lay in the Qadi clan chieftaincy, with his grandmother Dalida and father, James, early kholwa (converts). Dube returned home to teach at Amanzimtoti where he met his first wife, Nokutela Mdima, and then, from 1894 to 1896, at Incwadi near Pietermaritzburg. He revisited the United States to be ordained in 1899 and gather financial resources to establish a school.

Dube s religion and education in the United States where he undertook manual and printing work to pay for his studies molded his commitment ...


John Langalibalele Dube was born near Inanda, Natal (in what is now KwaZulu-Natal province), in eastern South Africa. Dube studied at Oberlin College, in Oberlin, Ohio, and was ordained a minister before returning to Natal. In 1903 he was one of the founders and the editor of the first Zulu newspaper, Ilanga lase Natal (Sun of Natal). In 1909 he founded the Ohlange Institute for Boys and then a school for girls, both near Durban. The same year Dube helped convene a South African Native Convention at Bloemfontein to oppose the “European descent” clause in the draft constitution for the Union (now Republic) of South Africa, which would bar men of color from Parliament.

On January 8 1912, Dube was elected the first president general of the South African Native National Congress (which later became the African National Congress). He led the opposition to the 1913 ...


De Witt S. Dykes

minister and registered architect, was born in Gadsden, Alabama, the second male and the fifth of six children born to Mary Anna Wade, a homemaker, and the Reverend Henry Sanford Roland Dykes, a lay minister in the Methodist Church (later the United Methodist Church), a brick mason, and construction contractor.

In the early 1900s the family moved to Newport, Tennessee, which was a racially segregated small town with a semirural atmosphere. Henry Dykes served as a circuit riding minister, conducting services on alternate Sundays at Methodist churches in three communities, including one at Newport, but earned enough to support his family as the head of a construction firm on weekdays until his death in 1945 Henry Dykes taught brick masonry and construction skills to not only his sons but also others By age fourteen Dykes had become a master mason by age seventeen he was a ...


Richard Saunders

lawyer and minister, was born James Frank Estes to Melvoid Estes and Bertha Lee Walker Estes in Jackson, Tennessee. Graduated from Lane College in 1942, Estes captained the football team and married a friend and classmate, Frances D. Berry. Enlisting in the Army the same year, he served on active duty in Europe and was one of the few African Americans accepted to Officer Candidate School. Estes was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1943 for the racially segregated 1317th Engineers General Service Regiment. The 1317th engaged in the Normandy landings on D-Day, as well as the Allied Forces Rhineland Campaign and battle for Central Europe. At his discharge in 1945 Estes remained in the reserves and enrolled at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which conferred on him an LL.B. degree in 1948 Returning to Tennessee Estes opened a law office on Beale Street the economic center ...


Patrick Cliff

religious leader known as the “Prophet,” was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the only son of Catherine and James Jones. He was consistently evasive about his youth, though he did speak of being raised by his devoted mother and not by his alcoholic, absentee father (from whom Jones always remained distant). He claimed also to have been called to God at a young age, and at age eighteen he was ordained a minister of Triumph, the Church and Kingdom of God in Christ, an unaffiliated Christian church. While Jones frequently said that the only book he ever touched was the Bible, he claimed to have a degree from Johnson C. Smith University, a black school in Charlotte, North Carolina (hence his fake “Doctor” title). In fact Jones had no degree.

Using Birmingham as a home base, he was an itinerant preacher until 1938 During that time Jones s following ...


Sholomo B. Levy

preacher, missionary, and educator, was born the son of Robert Keeble, a street cleaner and minister, and Mittie Keeble in Rutherford County, Tennessee. For several generations the black Keeble family had been the slaves of the family of Major Horace Pinkney Keeble, a prominent white lawyer in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Marshall was named after his grandfather, who served as a personal valet to the Confederate major Keeble during the Civil War. According to some accounts, his grandfather was killed by advancing Union soldiers, but Marshall disputed those accounts, claiming that he knew his grandfather. However, his family must certainly have been favored and personal slaves of the white Keebles because Robert and the elder Marshall were taught to read and write by their masters, which was highly unusual given the widespread prohibition against the education of slaves.

Marshall s grandfather and uncle were both preachers in ...


Sonia Abun-Nasr

pastor of the Basel Mission in the Ga/Dangme region of the West African Gold Coast, present-day Ghana, was born on 31 May 1834 in Prampram His father Christian Hackenburg Reindorf was a trader of joint European and African descent his mother Anoa Ama was born in Accra of Ga origin Reindorf s great grandfather Augustus Frederick Hackenburg was from Denmark and had been governor at Fort Christiansborg on the Gold Coast Because of his mixed race background and his links with the Basel Missionary Society Reindorf moved throughout his life in a complex web of social relationships These linked him with Ga society in the coastal towns the Christianized Euro African business community in and around Fort Christiansborg now Osu as well as with Europeans working for the Basel Mission on the Gold Coast In his life history these different aspects of Reindorf s identity come to the surface ...


Arthur C. Verge

minister and political activist, was born in Los Angeles, California. The names of his parents are unknown. Primarily educated in Los Angeles–area schools, Russell also studied theology in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the early 1930s at the nation's International College. Russell later remarked that his experiences studying abroad profoundly influenced his thinking about the plight of fellow African Americans in the United States. Foremost among his overseas memories was a visit to Weimar Germany, where the Los Angeles cleric witnessed firsthand the rise of Adolph Hitler's Nationalist Socialist (Nazi) Party and its racist ideology.

In 1936 Russell took over the pastorate of Los Angeles's People's Independent Church. This church, which had emanated in 1915 from the black community s more conservative and powerful First African Methodist Episcopal AME Church became known for its outreach programs for poor and disenfranchised blacks Within a year into Russell s tenure the People ...


Josepha Sherman

artist and preacher, was born to a West African father and a Cherokee mother in Africa, although the exact date was not recorded. After two years the family moved to the United States and settled on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina, where Sparrow s maternal grandfather lived Sparrow later claimed the man was a tribal chief Sparrow grew up in an area that was settled by Cherokees and the descendants of slaves At seven he began preaching to the forest animals then he began speaking in tongues and speaking to his family s Pentecostal church In his youth he drew stick figures in the sand then recorded images on scraps of paper One day he discovered pieces of plywood and began to use them to for his sketches A passing man offered to buy one but Sparrow angrily refused he had not made pictures to sell ...


Edward J. Robinson

stonecutter, porter, educator, funeral director, and preacher, was born a slave in Shreveport, Louisiana, the son of Zed and Betty Taylor. When Preston was one year old his parents moved to Lexington, Kentucky, where at age four young Preston heard a sermon in the First Baptist Church of Lexington and subsequently stated, “Some day I'll be a preacher” (Clement Richardson, The National Cyclopedia of the Colored Race [1919]). In 1864, at age fifteen Preston enlisted in Company G, 116th U.S. Infantry, as a drummer. He was present at the sieges of Richmond and Petersburg in Virginia, and at the surrender of Robert E. Lee. Taylor's regiment also served in Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana, before exiting the army on 17 January 1867 (Simmons, Men of Mark).

After serving in the military Taylor became a stonecutter and was skillful at ...


Michelle Madsen Camacho

philanthropist and ordained Pentecostal minister, was born Charleszetta Lina Campbell in St. Louis, Missouri. She was the eldest of seven children born to Henry Campbell, a barber, and Ella (Brown) Campbell. Charleszetta grew up in poverty, hardship, and emotional turmoil. Her father passed away while she was still young, and her mother lost four children before they reached adulthood. To help support her family, Charleszetta left school at age twelve to work in a myriad occupations, washing windows, cooking, selling food, and working as a housemaid. Married at the age of fourteen, Waddles was a widow by nineteen and remarried by twenty-one. She and her husband moved to Detroit. After two marriages and nine children, she met and married Payton Waddles, a Ford Motor Company employee.

Affectionately known as Mother Waddles was a soulful spiritual woman who aimed to transform the lives of the discouraged and ...