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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 ...


Jeremy Rich

was born in Poitiers, France on 16 September 1852 to relatively poor and fervently Catholic parents. He attended primary school in his hometown and encountered two priests from his neighborhood, Joseph Dubois and Louis Bernard. He fought in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 and exhibited some of the fiery courage that marked his entire life. After the war the priests from his hometown, Dubois and Bernard, encouraged Augouard to enter the minor seminary of Sées. While studying there, Augouard was inspired by Antoine Horner, a member of the Holy Ghost Fathers religious order, to consider missionary work in Africa. Horner’s description of Catholic evangelization on Zanzibar Island affected Augouard tremendously and in 1876 he was ordained a Catholic priest.

After spending a short time in the French town of Cellule, in the Puy-de-Dôme region, Augouard moved to the Gabonese capital of Libreville in 1877 Bishop Pierre Marie Le Berre ...


Genevieve Skinner

Civil War veteran, preacher, and teacher, was born free to an English sea captain and an African American mother on a ship sailing on the Atlantic Ocean. When Angus was two years old, his father died, and Angus and his mother were sold into slavery in Virginia, and later taken to Kentucky. He spent a majority of his early years in Virginia and learned how to read prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, an illegal pursuit for slaves. In 1864, now enslaved in Kentucky, at the age of sixteen Burleigh ran away from his master and enlisted in the Union Army at Frankfort, Kentucky. Upon enlisting Burleigh was trained at Camp Nelson in Kentucky, which was one of the largest areas for gathering African American soldiers during the Civil War. Burleigh became a sergeant with Company G 12th United States Colored Troops U ...


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 ...


Susan J. Hubert

Jacobus Capitein was one of the first Africans to be educated in Europe, ordained in a Protestant denomination, and commissioned to return to his homeland as a missionary. Although little is known of his African heritage, Capitein was probably born in what is now central Ghana. Orphaned or otherwise separated from his parents, he was enslaved and obtained by Dutch traders when he was about eight years old. His enslavement ended in 1728, when his owner took him to the Netherlands to learn a trade. Capitein's tutors recognized his intellectual gifts, and with the understanding that he would return to Africa as a missionary, his theological studies were supported by Dutch patrons. In 1737 he received a scholarship to the University of Leiden, where he excelled as a student. Capitein completed his studies in March 1742 and was ordained in the Dutch Reformed Church in May. In July 1742 ...


Leyla Keough

Jacobus Elisa Joannes Capitein was one of the few educated Africans in eighteenth-century Europe. He became a Protestant minister at a time when many Europeans doubted that Africans had souls and thus questioned whether or not they could be converted to Christianity. Capitein was born in West Africa, perhaps in Elmina on the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), where he was sold into slavery at the age of eight. The man who bought him presented him to a Dutch captain and trader, Jacobus van Goch, at Elmina. Van Goch named him Jacobus Capitein and took him to the Netherlands in 1728.

Capitein and his owner settled in The Hague, where Capitein learned Dutch. Van Goch acquiesced when Capitein expressed interest in a theological education. Capitein learned Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and biblical Aramaic, and in 1735 he was baptized. In 1737 he won a scholarship to study theology at ...


Ghanaian slave, theologian, missionary, and first African Protestant minister, was born in present-day Ghana and sold into slavery during childhood. Two aspects of his identity account for his considerable fame (or notoriety): here was a black intellectual in eighteenth-century Europe and a former slave who argued in favor of slavery. His treatise addressing the question, “Is Slavery Compatible with Christian Freedom or Not?” concluded in the affirmative. He and his work were invoked on both sides of subsequent debates about slavery: some pointed to the central argument of the treatise, whereas for others the work, regardless of its stance, proved the intellectual capacity, and hence humanity, of black persons. Only recently has the work received detailed attention.

The chief evidence for Capitein s life is the preface to this treatise supplemented by letters and sermons held in various Dutch archives Having been orphaned by war or some other cause on ...


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 ...


Ness Creighton

Coptic pope (patriarch) of Alexandria, was the fifty-eighth patriarch of the See of Saint Mark (920/21–932/33). His twelve-year reign was long when compared to other patriarchs of his era. The   History of the Patriarchs  affords him only a brief treatment, despite the length of his reign, and secondary sources citing Abu al-Makarim’s History of Churches and Monasteries indicate he receives equally little commentary within this text as well.

Cosmas III came to power after Gabriel I (910–921), with no noted complications existing in the record surrounding the succession. It is not recorded from which monastery he came prior to being named patriarch. Little is said about Cosmas III’s person or character, and only two linked events are commented upon in his rule between the two previously mentioned sources.

While the century before had been marked with wars and tensions that had further divided the churches of Egypt and Abyssinia ...


Robert Repino

football player, was born to Mabel and Samuel Cunningham in Santa Barbara, California. Mabel worked as a nurse, and Samuel was a porter on the Southern Pacific Railroad. The Cunninghams lived in a house purchased by their oldest son, Sam Cunningham, who was a running back with the New England Patriots in the 1970s. Randall also had two other older brothers, Anthony and Bruce.

Randall Cunningham was a star quarterback at Santa Barbara High School, leading his team to a league title and to the state finals in his senior year. After graduating in 1981 Cunningham went to the University of Nevada Las Vegas where he became the starter as a sophomore From then on he set school records by throwing for over 2 500 yards in three straight seasons only John Elway and Doug Flutie had accomplished that feat at the college level by then while at ...


religious leader, was born in the town of Nkamba in the western Bas-Congo Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 22 March 1918. His father was the very famous African Christian prophet Simon Kimbangu, and his mother was Marie Muilu Kiawanga. He was the youngest of three brothers. When the Belgian colonial administration exiled Kimbangu in 1921 to Lumumbashi in southern Katanga Province, Diangienda stayed with his mother, although there are differing accounts of his youth. According to Kimbanguists, Diangienda worked with his mother and tried to help with supporting the family's farm until 1934. Government records indicate he was placed with the Catholic mission of Boma in 1921. According to members of the Kimbanguist church in later years, Kimbagu had conferred on his young son the leadership of the spiritual movement, although he grew up far away from his father. Beginning in 1934 ...



James J. O'Donnell

Carthaginian churchman, was a man (or perhaps two men) whose life and work were so contested and his successors so vanquished that the man and his life have disappeared behind an image of schism and intransigence. But this could not have happened if the man himself were not a figure of power, persuasion, and authority among a large and determined group of followers.

Donatus came to fame in the aftermath of persecution. The Roman government of c. 305 made its last (and only really determined) attempt to persecute and suppress Christianity, failing miserably. In Roman Africa, however, the events of the persecution left deep rifts among Christians. Who had behaved badly among the clergy in kowtowing to Roman power? Who had handed over the sacred books to be burned? And if such traitors sought after persecution to recover church office, what was to be done?

The bishop of Carthage at ...


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 ...


Marika Sherwood

Nigerian-born preacher and activist for racial equality in Liverpool, England, was born George Daniel in Calabar, Nigeria. The date of his birth is unknown. In Calabar, he worked as an errand boy for a Free Church of Scotland missionary and then for the famous Scottish missionary, Mary Slessor, in Itu. He learned to read and decided he also wanted to be a missionary and to visit the “holy land of England where my holy mother came from.” At an unknown date he married a woman named Lily; they had a son named George. Lily died in 1927.

Liverpool was the homeport of most of the British vessels involved in the trade in enslaved Africans and also in the slave grown sugar and cotton trades Many of these ships had some African crew as did some Royal Navy vessels those who were discharged settled in Liverpool The city was also ...


Kathleen Sheldon

founder and leader of a Nigeria-based Christian sect known as the Cherubim and Seraphim Society, was born Abiodun Akinsowon in Porto Novo, Benin. She was the daughter of a Saro family with kin and business connections along the West African coast. Her father, Rev. B. A. Akinsowon, was pastor of a church in Porto Novo, where he also had commercial activities. Baptized into the Anglican Church in Lagos, Abiodun moved between Porto Novo, Ibadan, and Lagos and attended elementary school in Lagos until 1920. Though she had some training as a seamstress, she stayed with an aunt who was a market woman in Lagos and joined her as a trader.

Generally referred to as Abiodun, in 1925 she watched a Catholic religious procession in Lagos and fell into a trance that lasted for seven days She remained in a coma until Moses Orimolade Tunolase arrived he already had a ...


David Dabydeen

African preacher who travelled around England and Ireland sermonizing. Jea was born in Old Callabar, Africa, and at the age of 2½ was taken, along with his family, to North America, where they became the slaves of Oliver and Angelika Triebuen. They were ill‐treated and not properly clothed and fed. Working hours were long and intense, as Jea records in his narrative The Life, History, and Unparalleled Sufferings of John Jea, the African Preacher (1815).

The text captures his life as a slave his rebellion against Christian hypocrisy the finding of his faith his travels and the significance of his sermonizing Laden with quotations from the Bible it is itself a piece of Jea s preaching often questioning the virtues and beliefs of his readers Following his discovery of Christianity at the age of 15 when as he writes the Lord was pleased to remove gross darkness superstition ...


Richard J. Bell

Methodist preacher and seaman, was born in the port town of Old Calabar, in Nigeria, West Africa, to Margaret and Hambleton Robert Jea. At age two Jea and his family were captured in Old Calabar and transported to America on a slave ship. With his parents and several siblings he was immediately sold to the family of Oliver and Angelika Tiehuen, members of the Dutch Reformed Church who owned land outside New York City. This knowledge comes from Jea's narrative, The Life, History, and Sufferings of John Jea, the African Preacher, written and published in 1815; it is the only source of information about most of Jea's life and travels.

The newly enslaved family was set to work as field hands and quickly felt the hardship of poor conditions and physical abuse Jea found little comfort in the message of obedience and humility preached to ...


John Saillant

Around 1816 he published two books, a Collection of Hymns and his Life, History, and Unparalleled Sufferings; from the latter is derived virtually all available information on his life. The autobiography, which was undoubtedly embellished in some of its particulars, recounts Jea's birth in Africa, his childhood in colonial New York, the abuses he suffered under slavery, his manumission, his family life, and the travels and religious exercises of his maturity.

Jea reported that after he became restive under slavery around the age of fifteen he was baptized in a Christian church a circumstance that he claimed to use to compel his master to liberate him He told of preaching in North America Europe and the East Indies as well as of marrying three women in succession one Native American one Maltese and one Irish His children all preceded him in death Like many early African American authors Jea ...


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 ...