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Hilary Jones

missionary, parish priest, and religious educator, was born in Senegal on 16 April 1814, the same day that Napoleon Bonaparte left France for exile on the Island of Elba. Two years later Britain ended its occupation of Senegal and returned the fortified island territories of Gorée and Saint-Louis to France. The island of Saint-Louis du Sénégal, founded by France in 1659 as a strategic site in the period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, gained a reputation as a cosmopolitan Atlantic port city shaped by patterns of intermarriage between African women (Signares) and European administrators, merchants, and soldiers. The son of Marie Monté, a “free mulâtresse,” and Pierre Boilat, member of the merchant marines, David Boilat came from the small but growing class of mixed race inhabitants who closely identified with the Catholic Church and sought the privileges of French education despite their relative isolation from French culture.

In 1816 ...

Article

Christopher Tiné

Not much is known about Frédéric-Bruly Bouabré’s early life. He was raised in the Daloa department of western Côte d’Ivoire, and the local Kru culture and community were an important part of his childhood. In 1948, when Bouabré was twenty-four, the as yet undistinguished young man had a celestial vision in Dakar. According to Bouabré, the heavens opened themselves to him and he understood that he was to use his artistic talent to maintain and share the culture of his people, which is rooted in nature and folklore. After his vision Bouabré considered himself reborn as Cheik Nadro, or “he who does not forget,” and has devoted his life to his drawing and other creative projects.

Bouabré s drawings often form a series They are generally small and rectangular and have a border of narrative text around them In this regard many of his drawings strongly ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Born in Lafayette, Alabama, Sister Gertrude Morgan became an evangelist and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1939. She took the title “Sister” in the 1950s when, with two other street missionaries, she founded a church and an orphanage.

Morgan began painting in 1956, concentrating primarily on religious visions and biblical scenes. She believed that she was mystically married to Jesus Christ which she symbolized by dressing entirely in white Her paintings frequently depicted her with Jesus as bride and groom often with herself in black before and in white after the marriage As a street preacher Morgan eschewed the formal art world preferring to make folk art with any material at hand including Styrofoam cardboard lamp shades and jelly jars Her work frequently includes calligraphy which communicates a spiritual message or a biblical verse All her inspiration she felt came from God saying He moves ...

Article

Barbara A. Seals Nevergold

minister, musician, and photographer, was born in Bayou Rapides, Louisiana, to Irene Lair and Giuseppe “Joe” Nasello. Nasello, who immigrated to the United States from his native Sicily in 1901, owned a dry goods store in Alexandria, Louisiana, that Willie remembered visiting with his mother from time to time. However, Joe Nasello had another family, and given the mores of the time, “Papa” Joe never acknowledged the two children he fathered with Irene. (A daughter, Alice, was born in 1912.) Although Joe Nasello lived until 1958, it appears that father and son never met face to face nor openly acknowledged their relationship. Seals talked freely yet sparingly of his paternity, and he jokingly noted to his children that he was an “Italian.”

According to Willie, “Seals” was a made-up name that he took from Lucille Ceil a favorite grade school teacher ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Mersha Alehegne

third Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, was born on 18 September 1917 in Mahedere Maryam, Gonder; his birth name was Melaku. His parents were Welde Mikael Wondimu and Zewditu Kasa. Welde Mikael met Zewditu in Yerez, Gojjam, when he was in a military service in the area, and took her to Mahdere Maryam, Gonder, where she gave birth to Tekle. But because of the natural death of the father, Zewditu went back to her place of origin with the baby.

Tekle began traditional church education near his home and later, after the death of his mother, in Yerez Michael near Bichena, Gojjam, where he studied church poetry (qene) under Memher Lisane Werq He then went back to Mahedere Maryam the place of his birth and baptism and started serving as deacon But when he did not find things as he wished them to be he ...

Article

Timothy M. Broughton

grassroots organizer, architect, and minister, was born Jasper Jacob Thomas in Mobile County, Alabama, the youngest of three boys. Little is known about Thomas's mother; his father, whose name is not known, was a successful construction worker, a trade that quickly became one of Thomas's passions. Thomas married Mary Whisper in the early 1900s, and they had seven daughters. Thomas also had a son prior to this marriage, but there is no information about the details of this union.

Thomas traveled widely, visiting England and France. In Africa he learned about different architectural styles and cultural, social, and political organization. He admired and corresponded with Marcus Garvey, and in Mobile he publicly organized and supported black pride and self-sufficiency projects.

In 1948 Thomas was instrumental in both organizing and directing the strategy for defeating the Boswell Amendment the most racially discriminatory voting law passed in ...