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Carl Mirra

theologian, was born in Fordyce, Arkansas, the son of Charles “Charlie” Madison Cone, a woodcutter, and Lucy Cone. Cone was the youngest of three children. When Cone was just a year old his family moved to Beardon, Arkansas, a rural town of roughly 800 whites and 400 blacks. He only achieved a sixth grade education, but his natural intelligence and courage led him to later challenge racial segregation, a lifetime commitment to racial justice that included his participation in a school desegregation case and his opposition to racial coercion in the Jim Crow South.

Cone s early education took place in segregated schools that often employed teachers without college degrees What they lacked in formal training however Cone s teachers made up for in life affirming qualities He recalls that his first grade teacher often hugged him making him feel loved Cone did not know what it meant ...


Roland Rugero

Roman Catholic religious leader and Burundian writer, was born on 8 December 1943 in Kibumbu (province of Mwaro, commune of Layokwe) into a modest Hutu family. After primary studies in his region of origin, he undertook a religious education that led him, in Burundi, from the Petit Séminaire in Mugera to the Grand Séminaire in Burasira (1948–1958), then in Heverlee, Belgium, to the scolasticat des Pères Blancs (Société des Missionnaires d’Afrique), where he remained for a number of years. Returning to his country in 1962, he was ordained as a priest on 8 July 1963 and for a year assumed the position of parish vicar and almoner for the École Moyenne Pédagogique in Rusengo (province of Ruyigi) before returning to Europe in 1964 where for a few months he followed a complementary course of study at the École Missionaire pour l Action Catholique et l Action Sociale ECAMAS ...


Efraim Barak

Egyptian Muslim shaykh and well-known preacher, was born on 10 March 1933 in Shibrakhit, which is located in the Al-Bahira district of Egypt, near Alexandria. A poor grocer’s child, his full name was ʿAbd al-Hamid ʿAbd al-ʿAziz Muhammad Kishk. At the age of six he was afflicted by a severe infection in his eyes and as a result of mistreatment he became completely blind. After spending several years at the traditional kuttab in his hometown, he began his studies at the Alexandria Religious Institute. In 1952, after spending two years trying to regain his eyesight, Kishk decided to continue his education at the Al-Azhar Secondary School of Religious Studies in Cairo. Because of his great success at school, he was admitted to the Al-Azhar Faculty of Religion Principles (Kuliyyat Usul al-Din), from which he graduated in 1962 Right after graduation Kishk was appointed as imam and ...


J. Scrimgeour

Born Malcolm Little (and later also known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) in Omaha, Nebraska, on 19 May 1925, Malcolm X was the fourth of eight children of the Reverend Earl Little and his wife, Louise. Soon after Malcolm's birth the Littles moved to the outskirts of East Lansing, Michigan. When Malcolm was six, his father died, presumably murdered by the Black Legion, a violent racist group similar to the Ku Klux Klan, and the Little home life became more and more difficult. Louise was eventually placed in the state mental hospital, and her children were declared wards of the state. In 1941 Malcom moved to Boston to live with his half sister, Ella He became caught up in the nightlife of Boston and later New York After a few years in the underworld of Harlem selling drugs and working for call girl services Malcolm began a burglary ...


Davison M. Douglas

civil rights and women's rights activist, lawyer, poet, writer, teacher, and Episcopal priest. Anna Pauline (Pauli) Murray was born in Baltimore in 1910, the fourth of six children of Agnes Fitzgerald Murray, a nurse, and William Murray, a schoolteacher. When Murray was three years old, her mother died of a cerebral hemorrhage and she was adopted by her mother's sister, Pauline Fitzgerald Dame, a schoolteacher in Durham, North Carolina. Dame took Murray to live with her in the Durham home of Murray's maternal grandparents, Robert and Cornelia Fitzgerald. Murray would see her father only one more time before his death. In 1923, while a patient at a mental hospital in Maryland, William Murray was murdered by a white hospital guard.

After graduating from a segregated high school in Durham Murray moved to New York City to pursue additional education away from the segregated South ...


Peter Wallenstein

lawyer, writer, and minister, was born Anna Pauline Murray in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of William Henry Murray, a public school teacher, and Agnes Fitzgerald, a nurse. She had African, European, and Native American ancestry. Her parents both died when she was a child (her mother had a cerebral hemorrhage in March 1914; her father was murdered in a state hospital in June 1923), and she grew up from age three in North Carolina with her maternal grandparents and her mother's oldest sister, Pauline Fitzgerald Dame, a public school teacher who adopted her.

Murray graduated in 1926 from Hillside High School (which went only through grade eleven) in Durham, North Carolina, and then lived with relatives in New York City and graduated in 1927 from Richmond Hill High School After working for a year in Durham for a black newspaper and ...


Yvette Walker

politician, minister, activist, and writer. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1908. Powell's father, Adam Clayton Powell Sr. (1865–1953), was the minister of the famous Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York. In his autobiography Adam by Adam (1971), Powell states that his paternal grandmother, Sally, was part Cherokee and part black and that she bore a son by a white slaveholder of German descent. A former slave named Dunn took them in and raised Adam Clayton Powell Sr.

Powell Sr was actively involved in the struggle against racism he was a proponent of racial pride built on a foundation of education and hard work and he believed that the church should be a pillar of the community beliefs that he passed on to his son Adam Clayton Powell Jr recounts childhood memories of sitting on ...


Fidelis Nkomazana

Methodist minister and pioneer of African theology, was born at Kroonstad in the Free State Province, South Africa, on 4 February 1925 as the third of six children of William Mabeleng and Rebecca Masetimela Setiloane. Setiloane attended primary and secondary school at Kroonstad and matriculated in 1941. He obtained a teacher’s certificate of education at Moroka Missionary Institute in Thaba Nchu in 1942 and taught in various South African mission and Bantu high schools in Heilbron, Saulspoort, Rustenburg, Ficksburg, Ventersburg, Kroonstad, and Maseru (Lesotho) from 1943 to 1948. He continued private studies through a distance learning program with the University of South Africa and demonstrated the indomitable spirit of a motivated achiever from his early life. His interest was mainly in the field of African studies, with a focus on Bantu languages and native administration; he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 1947. In 1948 ...


Leon Howard Sullivan was born in Charleston, West Virginia, and raised by his grandmother who encouraged him to help the disadvantaged. He pursued this goal by entering the ministry. He was pastor of Philadelphia's Zion Baptist Church from 1950 to 1988. In 1964 he founded the Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America (OIC), which provided educational and vocational training for unskilled African American workers. For this work Sullivan was awarded the prestigious Spingarn Medal by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1971. By 1980 the OIC had grown into a national force, and by 1993 despite funding cuts, the OIC's programs had been instituted in several sub-Saharan African countries.

In 1977 Sullivan enumerated six principles that were guidelines for American corporations doing business in South Africa Known as the Sullivan Principles these guidelines were designed to use American corporate power to promote ...


Steve Howard

Sudanese philosopher, author, and Islamic religious reform leader, was born in the Blue Nile town of Rufa’a in the Gezira, the heart of Sudan’s Sufi establishment. Mahmoud Muhammad Taha, known to his followers as “Ustadh Mahmoud” (“teacher”), was the founder of Sudan’s preindependence Republican Party, which he subsequently led to become a religious reform movement known as the Republican Brotherhood. The movement advocated a moderately progressive approach to the role of Islam in the contemporary world, with an emphasis on social equality, particularly for women in the context of rethinking sharia law. His best known book, The Second Message of Islam (1968; trans. Abdullahi An-Na’im, Syracuse, 1987), detailed his understanding of a modern conceptualization of Islam. He married Amna Lotfi and had a son (deceased) and two daughters, Asma and Somaya.

Taha s education was the religious then secular mix that became increasingly common as the British introduced formal schooling ...


Linda Spencer

author and Catholic activist, was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the first of three girls born to Robert Tarry, a barber, and Eula Meadows, a seamstress for wealthy white people in Birmingham. Tarry wrote in her autobiography, The Third Door (1955):

Anthropologists would probably have said that my father was a mulatto and my mother an octoroon. I do not know what scientific name they might have used to describe my two sisters and me. I do know a lot of unscientific names were used, but I was a young lady before I really understood. Mamy once laughingly said we were a “duke's mixture”; to me, that seemed closer to the truth than anything else did.

Born into a warm loving and supportive family Ellen only realized her complexion was an issue when she entered the segregated Birmingham Slater School In elementary school because of her ...


Sandy Dwayne Martin

African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) bishop, civic leader, and author, was born in Chimney Rock, Rutherford County, North Carolina, the son of Hattie Edgerton and Edward Walls. His father died when Walls was only eight years old, leaving Hattie Walls, with the help of relatives and friends, to support and provide sufficient education for Walls and his three younger sisters. In 1899, at age fourteen, he entered the ministry. He was licensed to preach at the Hopkins Chapel AMEZ Church in Asheville, North Carolina, and began as an evangelist. He was ordained as a deacon in 1903 and received full ministerial, or elder, orders in 1905. After attending Allen Industrial School in Asheville, he transferred to the AMEZ-supported Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina, where he received a BA in 1908 Five years later he received a bachelor of divinity degree from the denomination s ...


Richard Newman

James M. Washington was born April 24, 1948, in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of Annie and James W. Washington. He was ordained in 1967 by his home church, Mount Olive Baptist, for the pastorate of the Riverview Missionary Baptist Church. He earned degrees from the University of Tennessee, Harvard Divinity School, and Yale University, where he received a doctorate in 1979.

Washington taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York, New York from 1975 until his death, being promoted to full professor in 1986. He was the author of Frustrated Fellowship: The Black Baptist Quest for Social Power (1986), A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King Jr. (1986), and Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans (1994 He held dual membership at Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn and the Riverside Church in ...


Robert L. Harris

historian, educator, minister, and administrator, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the only child of Matilda Harris and Charles Snowden Wesley. His father, who had attended Atlanta University and worked as a clerk in a funeral home, died when Charles Wesley was nine years old. Wesley grew up in his maternal grandparents' comfortable home, completed Louisville Central High School in two years, and entered the preparatory division of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of fourteen. He later enrolled in Fisk's collegiate division, where he developed a strong interest in music. He joined the famous Fisk Jubilee Singers, which had been organized in 1867 to raise much-needed funds for the fledgling school, founded two years earlier by the American Missionary Association. The Jubilee Singers secured funds from national and international tours to construct the university's first permanent building, Jubilee Hall, in 1875 Wesley ...


Charles Harris Wesley attended public schools in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky and then went on to receive a B.A. from Fisk University in 1911, an M.A. in economics from Yale University in 1913, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1925. Wesley's doctorate in history was the third awarded by Harvard to an African American. Wesley served on the Howard University faculty from 1913 to 1942. In 1916, Wesley began a long association with Carter Godwin Woodson's Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, serving as president from 1950 to 1965, and as executive director until 1972. In 1942, Wesley became president of Wilberforce University in Ohio, a school supported by the African Methodist Episcopal Church. As president until 1965 Wesley improved the faculty founded new programs such as African Studies and integrated the student ...


Douglas H. Johnson

Sudanese slave who reversed the missionary process by becoming an African evangelist in England. Born Atobhil Macar Kathiec among the Gok Dinka of Sudan, he was captured by slavers, freed by the Egyptian army, and subsequently employed by the missionary Charles Wilson. Educated, baptized, and confirmed in England, Wilson joined abortive missions to the Congo and Tripoli in 1887–8 and 1893, but most of his missionary efforts were undertaken with the Methodists in England, where he become known as ‘the Black Evangelist of the North’. Settling in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, he married his landlady in 1913, an event filmed by the local cinema. He was a popular figure in the town, where he lived until his death.

Wilson produced three books about his life and the Dinka He wrote positively about Dinka religiosity and traced his own awareness of God to the beliefs and prayers of his people ...