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Geoffrey Roper

Egyptian Muslim theologian, modernist, and reformer, was born in the Gharbiya Province of Lower Egypt, the son of ʿAbduh ibn Hasan Khayr Allah, a peasant farmer, and his wife, who was descended from the Bani ʿAdl clan. He grew up in the village of Mahallat Nasr and received a traditional education, learning the Qurʾan by heart. In 1862 he was sent to the madrasa (Islamic college) in Tanta. There, he perfected his Qurʾan recitation and started to learn Arabic grammar, by the then normal method of memorizing texts and commentaries without explanation from his teachers.

Reacting against this, according to his own account, he ran away from the college and returned to his village, intending to become a peasant rather than a scholar. In this condition he married in 1865 at the age of sixteen But after various vicissitudes he resorted to his great uncle Shaykh Darwish Khadr who ...

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Clayborne Carson

clergyman and civil rights leader, was born David Abernathy near Linden, Alabama, the tenth of twelve children of farm owners Will L. Abernathy and Louivery Bell Abernathy. Abernathy spent his formative years on his family's five-hundred-acre farm in rural Marengo County in southwestern Alabama. His father's economic self-sufficiency and industry spared the family from most of the hardships of the Great Depression. “We didn't know that people were lining up at soup kitchens in cities all over the country,” he would recall in his autobiography, And the Walls Came Tumbling Down Abernathy 6 Along with other family members he attended Hopewell Baptist Church where his father served as a deacon and decided early to become a preacher a commitment strengthened by a conversion experience at the age of seven Abernathy attended high school at all black Linden Academy a Baptist affiliated institution Having little exposure to whites during ...

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Nathan Zook

minister, civil rights leader, and member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, was born Avery Caesar Alexander in the town of Houma in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, to a family of sharecroppers. The names of his parents are not known. Seventeen years later, his family moved to New Orleans. Avery Alexander maintained an active life there and in Baton Rouge for the next seventy-two years.

Prior to his election to the Louisiana legislature, Alexander was employed as a longshoreman. At the same time, he pursued an education by taking night courses, receiving his high school diploma from Gilbert Academy in 1939. He became politically active by working as a labor union operative for a longshoreman's union, Local 1419. He also held the occupations of real estate broker and insurance agent.

Alexander received a degree in theology from Union Baptist Theological Seminary and became an ordained Baptist minister ...

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Frederick V. Mills

Episcopal clergyman, was born in Warrenton, North Carolina, the son of George Freeman Bragg Sr. and Mary Bragg (maiden name unknown). He was two years old when the family moved to Petersburg, Virginia, where he studied at the elementary school and at St. Stephen's Parish and Normal School. His family helped found St. Stephen's Church for Negroes in 1867. At age six he was employed as a valet by John Hampden Chamberlayne, editor of the Petersburg Index. In 1879 he entered a school founded by Major Giles B. Cooke, a former chaplain on Robert E. Lee's staff; the school had become a branch of Virginia Theological Seminary. The next year he was suspended for not being “humble” but was appointed a page in the Virginia legislature by the Readjuster Party. After a severe case of typhoid fever and a period of teaching school in 1885 ...

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W. S. Tkweme

militant political activist and religious leader, was born Hubert Geroid Brown in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the youngest child and second son of Eddie C. Brown, a laborer for Esso Standard Oil, and Thelma Warren, a teacher. According to his own account, Brown was a rebel from the earliest days against the color biases of his community as well as the authoritarianism and Eurocentric curricula of the schools in Baton Rouge. He identified with youth street culture and its heroes, whose verbal and physical jousting he extolled in his 1970 memoir Die Nigger Die! His facility at signifying or “playing the dozens” earned Brown the “Rap” sobriquet that he was to carry throughout the first phase of his public career.Brown attended Southern University in Baton Rouge from 1961 to 1963 but dropped out to pursue his growing interest in the civil rights movement Following his brother Ed whose ...

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Will Gravely

African Methodist Episcopal minister and bishop, was born of mixed parentage in Charleston, South Carolina, where he spent his early and middle years. Apparently self-educated, he worked as a boot maker and shoe repairman; he married Maria (maiden name unknown), with whom he had six children. Associated with the city's community of free people of color, Brown earned a reputation for assisting slaves in purchasing their freedom and for teaching and advising both free and enslaved African Americans in the region.

Soon after his religious conversion and his joining of the Methodist Episcopal (ME) Church, Brown was licensed to preach. In that role he had greater access to the slave population as well as to groups of free African Americans. As the number of blacks grew, both generally and within the African church in Charleston, Brown emerged as their leader. As a result of an 1816 dispute over a ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

minister and activist, was born on the Lower East Side of New York. His father was a chef, and his mother was an administrator of welfare services. Both had migrated from rural Georgia to the city in hopes of making a better life for themselves and their family. As a young boy, Calvin recalled visiting the church he would one day lead, the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, where he was mesmerized by the Reverend Adam Clayton Powell Jr. a figure who seemed to speak from the pulpit of that Gothic sanctuary with a voice of thunder When Calvin was eight the family left their low income housing development in Manhattan for a black suburb in Queens From there Calvin was bused over the protests of white parents to a junior high school in the upscale Forest Hills section of Queens Calvin adjusted well to this experiment in forced ...

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Timothy P. McCarthy

minister, educator, and politician, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of a free black woman (name unknown) and a Jewish father. It is uncertain whether Cardozo's father was Jacob N. Cardozo, the prominent economist and editor of an anti-nullification newspaper in Charleston during the 1830s, or his lesser-known brother, Isaac Cardozo, a weigher in the city's customhouse. Born free at a time when slavery dominated southern life, Cardozo enjoyed a childhood of relative privilege among Charleston's antebellum free black community. Between the ages of five and twelve he attended a school for free blacks, then he spent five years as a carpenter's apprentice and four more as a journeyman. In 1858 Cardozo used his savings to travel to Scotland, where he studied at the University of Glasgow, graduating with distinction in 1861 As the Civil War erupted at home he remained in Europe to study ...

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Faye A. Chadwell

attorney, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the daughter of the Canadian-born William Alphaeus Hunton, an executive with the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), and Addie Waites Hunton, a field worker with the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) in Europe. Carter's parents had three other children, but only Carter and her younger brother lived to adulthood. After the race riots of 1906, Carter's family left Atlanta for Brooklyn, New York, where Carter attended public schools. When her mother went to Strasbourg, which was at that time in Germany, to study at Kaiser Wilhelm University from 1909 to 1910, Carter accompanied her.

Carter attended Smith College in 1917, graduating cum laude with a BA and an MA in 1921 Her master s thesis was titled Reform of State Government with Special Attention to the State of Massachusetts Following in her parents footsteps Carter went into public ...

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Kathleen Thompson

Eunice Roberta Hunton Carter was part of a generation of black women lawyers who actively sought positions of power in white mainstream political and civic leadership. She responded to the call for black women lawyers who would work toward racial justice and the protection of women and children. In the year 2000, the Economic Report of the President, issued each year by the White House, stated that, in her time, Eunice Roberta Hunton Carter was “a trailblazer for expanded labor market opportunities for women and minorities.” Her selection as the first black woman district attorney in the State of New York by New York County District Attorney William C. Dodge made her one of the “twenty against the underworld,” as special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey called his prosecution team Securing the appointment also made Carter a first among black women lawyers in visible and influential civic social and ...

Article

Ari Nave

Nkologo (John) Chilembwe was born in Sangano, Chiradzulu district, in what is now Malawi. He received primary schooling at a Presbyterian mission school in Blantyre, then in 1892 went to work as a house servant for the British Baptist missionary Joseph Booth, an advocate for African self-rule. In 1897 Chilembwe traveled with Booth to the United States and attended the Virginia Theological College, a black Baptist seminary, where he became familiar with aspects of the African American experience, such as segregation and racism, and was influenced by such writers as W. E. B. Du Bois.

In 1900 Chilembwe returned to his homeland By then an ordained Baptist minister he purchased some forty hectares ninety nine acres of land with the help of African American backers and built the Providence Industrial Mission PIM with the goal of educating and encouraging self confidence among his people A number of African ...

Article

Michael R. Mahoney

first Anglican bishop of Natal, theologian, and political activist, was born in Saint Austell, Cornwall, on 24 January 1814, the eldest of four children of a mineral agent to the Duchy of Cornwall. He began attending Saint John’s College, Cambridge University, in 1832, and in 1836 he graduated as a second wrangler in the mathematical tripos and a second Smith’s prizeman. A year later he was elected a fellow at Saint John’s. In 1839 he took up holy orders in the Church of England but worked as a mathematics tutor at Harrow, where he gained some notoriety as an author of mathematics texts. During this period Colenso also became increasingly active in the Church of England and in 1846 became rector of Forncett Saint Mary Church in Norfolk County. That same year he married Sarah Frances Bunyon, with whom he had five children.

In 1853 at the ...

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Linda M. Perkins

When Fanny Jackson became principal of Philadelphia’s Institute for Colored Youth in 1869, she held the highest educational appointment of any black woman in the nation at the time. While most of her attention, both before and after her marriage in 1881, was given to the institute, she was also active in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the National Association of Colored Women, and, in later life, as a missionary to Africa.

Fanny Jackson Coppin was born a slave in Washington, DC, in 1837. Her freedom was bought during her early childhood by a devoted aunt, Sarah Orr. Jackson moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, and, by the early 1850s, to Newport, Rhode Island, to live with relatives. While in Newport, Jackson worked as a domestic in the home of George Henry Calvert, great-grandson of Lord Baltimore settler of Maryland Calvert s wife Mary was ...

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Amos J. Beyan

Crummell was born March 1819, the son of Charity Hicks, a freeborn African American woman and a resident of Long Island, New York, and Boston Crummell, an emancipated African from the Temne ethnic group of what became known as Sierra Leone in West Africa. Although the conditions under which he became emancipated have not been documented, it has been maintained that Crummell’s father gained his freedom by escaping his owner when he became an adult in New York. The family thereafter established a small oyster store in the black section of New York. Despite the fact that they had limited means and lacked formal education, Crummell’s parents decided to enroll him in the Mulberry Street School and further employed qualified individuals to tutor him.

Following his basic education Crummell together with his black colleagues Thomas Sidney and Henry Highland Garnet went to Canaan New Hampshire to study at Noyes ...

Article

Zachery R. Williams

Alexander Crummell was born in New York City, the son of Boston Crummell, said to have been an African prince, and a free mother (whose name is unknown). Crummell, one of the most prominent black nationalist intellectuals and ministers of the nineteenth century, strongly believed that the combination of Christianity and education would elevate blacks in America and Africa to a high level of civilization and prominence as a race. As a youth, Crummell came under the influence of the Reverend Peter Williams Jr., a staunch supporter of back-to-Africa movements. Prior to the Civil War, Crummell was a major supporter of African colonization. Ironically, however, his earliest success as an orator was as an opponent of the American Colonization Society.

Crummell spent the years 1853 to 1872 in Liberia with his family and became a citizen of the country Upon his arrival there he worked as a missionary ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

leader of the Nation of Islam, was born Louis Eugene Walcott in the Bronx, New York City, to Sarah Mae Manning, a native of St. Kitts, who worked as a domestic. Farrakhan's biological father was Manning's husband, Percival Clarke, a light-skinned Jamaican cab driver. By the time young Louis was born, however, Manning had left Clarke and was living with Louis Walcott. Manning hoped her baby would be a girl and have a dark complexion like herself and Walcott. Nevertheless, when the child was born male and with a light complexion, she named him Louis and listed Walcott as the father (Magida, 10). Walcott stayed with the family during their move to the Roxbury section of Boston in 1937, but departed shortly thereafter.Raising two young children alone during the Depression was difficult, but Sarah Mae kept her boys from harm and attended to their ...

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Frances Smith Foster

minister, author, editor, and activist, was born near New Market, Maryland, to an enslaved couple then known as George and Henrietta Trusty. A few weeks after the death of their owner, Henry, his parents, his sister, and seven other relatives escaped to Wilmington, Delaware. Part of the Trusty family went to New Jersey, but George and Henrietta, having changed their surname to Garnet, continued on to New Hope, Pennsylvania, where nine-year-old Henry had his first days of formal education. In 1825 the family moved to New York City. Henry, along with his cousin Samuel Ringgold Ward (whose family were also fugitive slaves) and his neighbor Alexander Crummell, attended the African Free School. About 1830 while apprenticed to a Quaker farmer on Long Island Henry was crippled in an accident The intrepid fifteen year old returned to New York City and enrolled at Canal ...

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Graham Russell Hodges

Born to petit bourgeois parents in Vého, Lorraine, in rural France, Henri-Baptiste Grégoire was educated at a Jesuit college. He then became a teacher and was consequently ordained as a priest in Lorraine at the age of twenty-five. Frustrated by hierarchical barriers to advancement, he turned to writing.

Grégoire's first essays, published in the late 1770s, advocated tolerance of Jews, a position that placed Grégoire in opposition to the wave of anti-Semitism in France. In 1785 he won awards for a book reflecting his passion for Jewish rights Grégoire contended that temporal salvation by which he meant absorption into the Roman Catholic Church was individual rather than racial or national He defined his duty as working for the creation of conditions under which Jews could convert to Catholicism and be eligible for salvation To avoid social corruption he believed Jews were to be encouraged to migrate to the countryside ...

Article

Dawne Y. Curry

Barbara Clementine Harris was born in Philadelphia and spent her formative years receiving her religious education at Saint Barnabas Church. While attending the Philadelphia High School for Girls, Harris established a young adults group at Saint Barnabas. The organization quickly became the largest youth group in the city.

After graduating from high school in 1948, Harris took a position with Joe V. Baker and Associates, a black-owned public relations firm. Her responsibilities included editing a publication that promoted historically black colleges representing white companies in predominantly black communities. She performed her duties so effectively that, after ten years of employment, she became president of the firm, a position she enjoyed until 1968, when she assumed the head position of Sun Oil Company’s community relations department.

Although Harris achieved career success she continued her activism within the church She participated in the Dismas Society a group formed to visit ...

Article

the first black woman ordained a bishop in the United Methodist Church, was born Leontine Turpeau in the parsonage of Mount Zion Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., to David DeWitt Turpeau Sr., a minister, and Ila Marshall Turpeau. One of eight children, Leontine Turpeau was deeply influenced by both of her parents. Her father, a Catholic turned Methodist, served congregations in Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh before moving to Cincinnati's Calvary Methodist Church in 1928. While there, he was one of the first blacks in Ohio to serve in the state legislature.During the segregation era when all the black Methodist churches were united into a central jurisdiction the Reverend Turpeau never left the denomination and told his children that they were staying to try to just get this church straight because they can t be the church of Jesus Christ without us Turpeau s mother grew up ...