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John G. Turner

Latter-day Saint elder and Utah pioneer, was born in northern Maryland to Andrew Abel and Delila Williams. Abel left the area as a young man. Little is known of his early life; it is unclear whether he was born enslaved or free. One later census identified Abel as a “quadroon,” but others listed him as “Black” or “Mulatto.”

In 1832, Abel was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and soon gathered with the Mormons in Kirtland, Ohio. In 1836, he was ordained to the church's Melchizedek or higher priesthood, making him one of a very small number of African American men to “hold the priesthood” during the church's early years. An expectation for all righteous adult male members of the church, priesthood meant the possibility of leadership positions and the authority to perform ordinances. In December 1836 Abel had become a ...

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Charles Rosenberg

landowner, businessman, and state legislator, was born enslaved in Dallas County Alabama, to parents named Sarah and Pete, who had been born in South Carolina. David, like his parents, was the property of a family named Abner. There is some dispute as to his birth date—some giving 1826 and others 1838—but the most reliable date appears to be December 1820, as suggested by a letter from his youngest daughter. It is not known when David took the Abner surname for himself, a common but by no means universal practice for formerly enslaved persons. He was sent to Texas in 1843, driving a covered wagon for the newly married daughter (Thelma) of the man who held title to him.

Her father considered his new son in law unreliable and entrusted David to get his daughter safely to her new home and manage ...

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Stephen Cory

Sufi leader who has been referred to as “the Junayd of the West,” played an important role in the early development of Sufism within North Africa. One of his disciples, ʿAbd al-Salam ibn Mashish, was later the spiritual master for Abu al-Hasan al-Shadili, founder of one of the most influential North African Sufi movements.

Abu Madyan was born in the town of Cantillana near Seville in Muslim Spain He lost his parents early in life and was raised by his older brothers who regularly mistreated him The Moroccan biographer al Tadili d 1229 30 included biographical comments from Abu Madyan s writings such as the shaykh s explanation of how he finally escaped from the control of his brothers Abu Madyan relates that he fled from his home only to be captured by a brother who intended to kill him because of his many escape attempts His brother attacked him ...

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Jeremy Rich

Roman Catholic cardinal from the Ivory Coast, was born in the Ivoirian town of Monga on 2 March 1926. At the age of six, he received his baptism and began his education at a Catholic mission school in the town of Menni. Agré entered a Catholic seminary school in Bingerville in 1941 and remained there until 1948. He then attended seminary at the Beninese city of Ouidah from 1958 until his ordination as a Catholic priest on 20 July 1953. From his ordination to 1965, he was a priest in the town of Dabou. Agré then joined the teaching staff at the Bingerville seminary he had once attended and served there from 1956 to 1957. From 1957 to 1960 Agré studied canon law at the Pontifical Urbanian University and he graduated with a doctorate His return to Côte d Ivoire coincided with the country ...

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Jeremy Rich

Anglicanarchbishop, was born on 27 January 1944 in Maga Adeniregun a village near the Nigerian city of Abeokuta Akinola s father Ttitus Oke Akinola a poor farmer and hunter died when the boy was just four years old Janet Amoke Oyedele his mother lost two children in infancy before Akinola s birth Akinola s maternal uncle Soge agreed to help raise the child as his mother s trading could not support the entire family Soge began Akinola s training as a carpenter although he did attend primary school at the same time Around the age of fourteen Akinola then joined the business of his paternal uncle Gabriel Faneye Oyedele since he no longer could afford the cost of attending school This relationship ultimately did not work out Frustrated Akinola went back to carpentry and moved to the Nigerian capital Lagos He has claimed that he barely survived ...

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Trevor Hall

Columbus’s voyage to the Americas and the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade from Spain to the Americas. Born near Valencia, Spain as Rodrigo de Borja, Alexander was a lawyer and administrator and a very wealthy man, who became a cardinal at the age of twenty-five. His father was Jofré Llançol and his mother Isabella de Borja, sister of Alfonso Borja, later Pope Callixtus III. Being born into the powerful Borja family gave Rodrigo Borja an uncle who was a pope and someone who guided his nephew to become Pope Alexander Vl. He acquired money and power as a result of his uncle being a pope. Alexander VI had a long relationship with Vannozza dei Cattanei, a Roman woman, who was the mother of his four children.

Alexander VI did not issue papal bulls that related directly to West Africans enslaved in Portugal Spain and Italy however his bulls influenced ...

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Jacob Andrew Freedman

soldier, minister, and social activist, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the youngest of the six children of Levi Allensworth and Phyllis (maiden name unknown), slaves of the Starbird family. The Starbirds were respected members of the community and were partners in Wilson, Starbird, and Smith, a wholesale drug company based in Louisville. Levi died when Allen was an infant. Phyllis's other five children either had been sold down the Mississippi River or had escaped to Canada. Phyllis hoped that Allen could “even if partly educated, win his freedom” (Alexander, 9). Believing that God would play a role in his redemption as well, Phyllis named Allen after Richard Allen, the founder and first bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. In Allen Allensworth's early years he was given to Thomas Starbird, Mrs. Starbird's son, as a companion.

When Thomas was sent to school Allensworth s ...

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Eric Fournier

Christian bishop. What we know about Alypius of Thagaste comes mainly from Augustine’s Confessions and Letters Born into a curial family in the Roman town of Thagaste present day Souk Ahras Algeria in the province of Numidia Alypius whose name seems to indicate Greek origins was younger than Augustine born in 354 CE Augustine was also Alypius s teacher first in Thagaste around 374 376 then in Carthage around 380 But Alypius was soon captivated by the Roman games the gladiators and the chariot races in particular and stopped attending Augustine s lessons because of an undisclosed argument between his father and his teacher Alypius quickly resumed attending despite his father s injunction however and one day as he entered the classroom Augustine used the example of someone attending the games to make a point which convinced Alypius to change his ways Among the group of students who studied ...

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C. James Trotman

Presbyterian pastor, educator, and social reformer, was born in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, the son of Timothy Anderson and Mary Croog One of fourteen children he was raised in the comforts of a rural middle class home less than thirty miles from historic Gettysburg On a typical day of his youth Matthew faced both the physical demands of farm life and the movement back and forth between two cultures One dominated by commerce and materialism was uncharacteristically open to the Andersons who owned lumber mills and real estate at a time when most black Americans were dehumanized and disenfranchised by chattel slavery The other was a culture defined by close family ties and Presbyterian piety At home Matthew heard Bible stories and dramatic tales of runaway slaves indeed religious piety and the pursuit of racial freedom were dominant themes in his life These early experiences inspired Matthew so ...

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Sherrow O. Pinder

clergyman, army chaplain, and physician, was born a slave in Seguin, Texas. Little is known about his parents except that his mother was a slave, and during the Civil War she and William fled to Galveston, Texas. As a young boy, he joined the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, which took on both local and national responsibility for the religious, intellectual, and social uplift of African Americans, often taking a leading role in promoting both secular and religious education. The AME Church, in fact, sponsored Anderson's education for three years at Wilberforce University in Ohio. The remainder of Anderson's education was financed by an Ohio sponsor, Stephen Watson, who was then the vice president of the London Exchange Bank of Madison County. In 1886 Anderson received a theology certificate from Howard University and two years later graduated from the Homeopathic Medical College of Cleveland Much ...

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Chima Anyadike

Nigerian Roman Catholic cardinal, was born on 1 November 1932 to Arinze Nwankwu later baptized Joseph and Bernadette Ekwoanya in the rural town of Eziowelle in southeastern Nigeria Of humble beginnings he was in his early years raised in the Igbo traditional religious system until he was nine when he was baptized into the Catholic church by Father Michael Iwene Tansi the first and only Nigerian to date to be canonized by the church As a teacher and parish priest Father Tansi could not but notice that the young Arinze was humble hardworking and intelligent since he came out in the first position in his class examinations Arinze s aspiration to priesthood was largely a result of Father Tansi s influence and interest in him His father was however initially opposed to that aspiration As a cardinal Arinze still remembers the terms of that opposition You will not become ...

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Alan K. Lamm

Civil War army chaplain and Baptist minister, was born in North Branford, near New Haven, Connecticut, to Ruel and Jereusha Asher. His paternal grandfather had been captured in the Guinea region of Africa at the age of four and was brought to America as a slave. Young Jeremiah grew up hearing fascinating tales of his grandfather's life, which included military service during the American Revolutionary War. Those stories would later inspire Asher in his own life.

Asher's father was a shoemaker who married a Native American woman from Hartford, Connecticut. Jeremiah grew up as a member of the only African American family in North Branford and was permitted to attend school along with white children. At the age of twelve he left school to help out his family financially, and over the next several years he worked as a farmhand, servant, and coachman. In 1833 he married Abigail Stewart ...

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Stacey Graham

bishop and patriarch of Alexandria, theologian, author, and doctor of the Church, is significant for his staunch opposition to Arianism, his prolific theological works, and his exile-ridden episcopate during a tumultuous time for Church and imperial politics. His most influential work is the seminal hagiography of Western monasticism, Life of Anthony.

Athanasius was born in Alexandria Egypt probably in the year 296 though possibly as late as 300 At an early age he came to the attention of Alexander the patriarch of Alexandria who ordained him as a priest and brought him into the patriarch s service Alexandria in the fourth century cultivated a mixture of intellectual philosophical and religious schools of thought from its long standing pagan Jewish and Christian communities The city was economically vital as the main grain supplier for the imperial capital at Constantinople and it ranked third among the four patriarchates in the early ...

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Louis Munoz

Augustine of Hippo was born in Tagaste (modern Souk Ahras, Algeria) in 354 and died almost seventy-six years later in Hippo Regius (modern Annaba, Algeria) in 429 on the Mediterranean coast. Only four of his seventy-five years were spent outside Northern Africa. However, those few years would influence considerably his thought and his work.

Augustine s Africa had been part of Rome s empire since the destruction of Carthage five hundred years before his birth The language of business and culture throughout Roman Africa was Latin Yet some distinctly African character continued to mark life in the province Some non Latin speech either the Berber tongue of the desert or Punic which ancient Carthaginians had spoken continued to be heard The dominant religion of Africa had become Christianity a religion opposed to the traditions of old Rome but that could not have spread without the unity that Rome had brought ...

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James J. O'Donnell

Christian bishop and theologian, was born Aurelius Augustinus on 13 November 354 CE in Tagaste (mod. Souk Ahras, Algeria) in Roman Africa, the son of Patricius and Monnica. The names of father and son are marked by emphatic affiliation with Rome (echoing the imperial title of Augustus and the high dignity of “patrician”), while the mother’s name echoes the traditional Punic culture of Africa and one of its leading deities. Augustine died as bishop of Hippo Regius (mod. Annaba, Algeria) on 28 August 430. He never ceased to surprise his contemporaries, and he has astonished many more to this day.

As the older son in a family of some social pretensions but limited resources Augustine should have grown to manhood as a country squire of narrow horizons But his parents were ambitious and found the money from an influential friend to send him away for education He studied first at ...

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Alessandra Vianello

charismatic Islamic leader whose influence spread from Somalia to the whole of East Africa and beyond. His full name was Aways Mohammed al-Qadiri.

He was born in Brava a coastal town in Southern Somalia the son of Mohammed Mahadh Bashir and Faduma Barow The family had humble origins some Italian sources claim that the father or one of his immediate forebears had been a freedman of the Tunni the Somali clan settled in and around Brava In the course of his life Sheikh Aways married several times Five of his wives Bay Aliow bint Bobo Doyo bint Mahadh Abdallah Amo bint Bana Tahir Bora Fatima bint Mohammed Muhyiddin and Hawa Shego are mentioned in the Civil Register of the Court of Brava Of his children a daughter Dede was immortalized in verse by the judge and scholar Abd al Aziz al Amawi who probably married her and a son Shaʾir ...

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Martin A. Klein

leader of a Muslim jihad that briefly controlled the western part of Senegambia, was best known as Ma Ba, Maba Diakhou Bâ, or as Ma Ba Diakhou, with Diakhou being his mother’s name. He is also called Amath Ba.

Ma Ba was born in a clerical family that had migrated from the strongly Islamic Futa Toro dominated by Halpulaaren to a Wolof community in the Mandinka state of Badibu located on the north shore of the Gambia River As a boy he studied the Qurʾan with his father and then at schools in the Wolof kingdoms of Kajoor and Jolof He later in turn taught the Qurʾan in Jolof where his mother had been born While there he married Maty Ndiaye the niece of the Burba Jolof the head of the Jolof kingdom and probably forged ties that proved useful in later conflicts When his father died sometime in the ...

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Charles C. Stewart

Mauritanian religious leader and founder of a school, was the grandson of his namesake known as “Sidiyya the Elder” (Sidiyya al-Kabir) and was raised by his uncles in the scholarly setting of his father and grandfather’s camps in southwestern Mauritania. His father, Sidi Muhammad, died in 1869 during a cholera outbreak when Baba was seven years old only one year after the death of Sidiyya al Kabir This was a moment when his lineage the Ntisha it was one of the dominant ones within the larger Awlad Abyiri a clerical lineage group that during his grandfather s time had risen to be among the most influential political forces in the region of Trarza southwestern Mauritania Sidiyya the Elder had spent a dozen years in the Kunta campus of the Azaouad adjacent to Timbuktu in the early nineteenth century and he brought back to the village that he founded at ...

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Terence M. Mashingaidze

nationalist politician, first titular president of independent Zimbabwe, statesman, peace broker, clergyman, author, soccer administrator, academic, poet, and journalist, was born on 5 March 1936 at Esiphezini, in Essexvale (now Esigodini) District near Bulawayo in Southern Rhodesia. The versatile Banana’s father, Aaron, was a migrant laborer from Malawi while his mother, Jese, was a Zimbabwean Ndebele woman. Banana married Janet Mbuyazwe in 1961; the marriage produced three sons and a daughter. Banana attended Mzinyati primary school and Tegwani High School. He trained as a teacher at Tegwani Training Institute and then attended Epworth Theological Seminary, resulting in his ordination as a Methodist preacher in 1962 Subsequently he worked as a Methodist schools manager principal chairperson of the Bulawayo Council of Churches and member of the Rhodesian Christian Council and World Council of Churches In the 1970s Banana attained a BA with honors in theology through distance learning from ...

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Jeremy Rich

religious and educational leader, was born to a family of chiefs in the town of Rusengo in eastern Burundi. The names and occupations of his parents are not known. He attended primary school in Rusengo from 1927 to 1933 and completed his secondary education at the Mugera seminary from 1933 to 1939. Barakana then decided to complete his theological training to become a Roman Catholic priest. He underwent training at the seminary in Nyakibanda from 1939 to 1947 and was ordained on 25 July 1947. Soon afterward, he went to the Vatican to study for a doctorate in canon law, which he received in 1950. Barakana thus became the first Burundian to ever receive a doctorate. Barakana decided to join the Jesuit Catholic religious order and officially became a member of this order on 20 May 1953 at Djuma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ...