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Article

Amar Wahab

Mission to provide shelter to the black poor in Liverpool. In the midst of economic depression, spreading poverty, and growing racism, the African Churches Mission was opened in Liverpool in 1931 by Pastor Daniels Ekarte. Funded by the Church of Scotland, the Mission became a meeting point for many in need. Moreover, it became a refuge for Liverpool's black community in the face of worsening poverty and deprivation. It was the site from which Pastor Ekarte himself politicized around issues of racial inequality.

The Mission also provided shelter to those in need including families affected by the air raids as well as stowaways and homeless people Pastor Ekarte was heavily involved in raising funds to address humanitarian concerns He was helped by many of the women who provided secretarial and bookkeeping assistance and who also did the cooking and housekeeping The Mission also played a critical role in ...

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Anja Schüler

Throughout its history the black community in the United States has been faced with the daunting task of improving the economic and social status of its members in a society pervaded by racism. Black Americans, like other groups in American society, were determined to solve this problem by taking matters into their own hands. In developing self-help programs they both used already existing agencies, such as schools and churches, and also established new ones, such as mutual aid societies and business leagues. From Reconstruction to the 1930s, black churches, fraternal orders, and mutual aid societies were a chief resource that ensured the social, economic, and academic endurance of many black families.

Throughout the nineteenth century churches had been an important venue for the social and cultural life of African Americans Pressured by an increasingly progressive membership many churches started to spawn agencies of self help around the turn of the ...

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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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Tyler Fields

civic and religious leader and camp founder, was born Henry Carl Canty in Camden, South Carolina. The only information known about his childhood was that his family was not wealthy, which was typical for southern urban African Americans in the late nineteenth century. Not much is known about Canty's life prior to moving to Hartford, Connecticut, other than that he moved there when he was thirty years old in 1902. He worked for a time as an elevator operator in Hartford City Hall, and according to the 1930 census, he was a polisher at the same building. In that same year Canty and his wife, Mary Ann (Gamble) Canty, purchased 61 Mahl Avenue in Hartford. The home was occupied by the Canty and the Anderson families. Built around 1897, the house was a two-and-a-half-story vernacular Queen Anne building with a gable roof.

Canty was an active member ...

Article

minister and Harlem civil rights leader, was born in Fairmount (Somerset County), Maryland, the son of Isaac and Emmeline Williams Cullen, who had been slaves. The youngest of eleven children, Cullen grew up in poverty, his father having passed away two months after his birth. He moved to Baltimore with his mother at age twelve and worked for a physician while attending Maryland State Normal School (later Towson University). He then taught public school in Fairmount for two years before entering Morgan College (later Morgan State University), an Episcopalian seminary in Baltimore; between his first and second year of studies, he also worked as a waiter in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He had received a preacher's license while in Fairmount and was ordained in 1900.

Cullen's religious awakening had taken place in September 1894 at Sharp Street Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore and he had preached his ...

Article

Amar Wahab

Pastor, community activist, and Black leader in Liverpool. Born George Daniel, Daniels Ekarte worked as an errand boy with the Free Church of Scotland in Calabar, Nigeria. Inspired to become a missionary in England, he left as a galley‐hand on board a ship bound for Liverpool in 1915. There, instead of encountering a charitable Christian people, Ekarte met with strong racist attitudes and felt deceived by the missionaries in Nigeria. After a period of disenchantment, he began worshipping with Africans, holding prayer services both in private spaces and in the street. With sponsorship from the Church of Scotland, Pastor Ekarte opened the African Churches Mission in Liverpool in 1931. The Mission was primarily aimed at providing a space of worship and socializing for blacks in Liverpool.

As a community activist and leader, Pastor Ekarte also had a keen interest in the education and welfare ...

Article

Sandra Kelman

community activist, city councilwoman, and ordained minister, was born Beatrice Frankie Fowler in Wake Forest, North Carolina, to Maude Fowler, a domestic worker, and to a father who left when she was a toddler. In a 1989Baltimore Sun Magazine article, Gaddy recalled “many days” that she and her four siblings (Mottie Fowler, Pete Young, Tony Fowler, and Mabel Beasly) “didn't eat because when my mother didn't work and couldn't bring home leftover food, there was nothing to eat. And, even when there was food, if my stepfather had been drinking, he'd come home and throw our plates out in the back yard or through the window.” A high school dropout, Gaddy was divorced twice by her early twenties. As a single mother, she struggled for years to make a living for herself and her children (Cynthia, Sandra, John, Michael, and Pamela ...

Article

Ruth Graham Siegrist

missionary, educator, social worker, and author was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the third child of the Rev. David Andrew Graham, a Methodist minister, and Etta Bell Graham. His father's pastorates took the family from New Orleans to Detroit, Indianapolis, Chicago, Nashville, Colorado Springs, and Spokane. Graham attended the University of Washington and the University of California at Los Angeles.

While a student at UCLA, Graham learned about the need for missionary teachers in Liberia, West Africa, and felt he was called there to serve. He left for Liberia in 1924 to teach at Monrovia College, a Christian boys' school.

Going to Africa changed Graham s life He realized he had gone with a false concept of what African people were like He decried the fact that all he had read or seen had described Africans in stereotypical terms as savages at best stupid and ...

Article

Jonna Perrillo

educator, social worker, and interfaith and interracial relations specialist, was born Eugene Harold Mason in Cythiana, Kentucky, the second son of Thomas Jefferson Mason, an 1894 graduate of the (Kentucky) State Normal School for Colored Persons, and Mary Mahalia Mason. Harold Mason attended secondary school in Kentucky and Ohio. Though he became a familiar figure in several communities, much of what is known about Mason must be drawn from newspaper accounts and his own extensive correspondence. As a result, the dates of some of his achievements can only be approximated. After graduating from high school in 1921 he attended Case Western Reserve University, where he began a long-standing relationship with the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), serving as the assistant secretary of the African American branch in Cleveland.

Mason proved early on to be highly committed to civil rights and the religious community After graduating ...

Article

David Killingray

Christian missionary societies were founded in Europe, principally in Britain, Germany, and France, and also in North America, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries largely as a result of the Protestant evangelical revival. Protestant missions employed many lay people, whereas the Roman Catholic Church, which only later developed modern mission work, relied largely on ordained priests. Thus Protestant missions were first in the field, and among their mission workers and clergy were a good number of black people from the diaspora as well as African converts.

From the late 18th century onwards there was a strong idea among many black Christians in the diaspora that they should help to redeem their own people Some even argued that the slave trade in bringing Africans to the Americas and to an awareness of Christianity was of providential design in order to bring about race redemption Thus black Christians attracted to ...

Article

Amon Saba Sakaana

Black doctor and activist. Harold Moody was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1882 and arrived in London in 1904 to study medicine. His mother, a dark woman, was aware of the liability of black skin in colonial Jamaica for she advised her son to make friends with those fairer than himself. Moody's father worked on the Panama Canal and returned with enough money to open a pharmacy. Moody was sent to a prestigious school in Kingston run by Sir William Morrison, and was then transferred to Woolmer's Free School until 1899. His scholarship was sound, and upon graduation he opened his own school, where he taught for some time. From his very early beginnings Moody was a devout Christian, becoming secretary of the Christian Endeavour Society at the age of 19. He also was a preacher at two churches in Kingston.

As early as 1912 Moody was ...

Article

Jean-Pierre Chrétien

Roman Catholic bishop of Bujumbura, Burundi (1959–1989), was the son of Pierre Ntibibabaje, a Tutsi deputy-chief in the north of Buyogoma, and Marguerite Ntawiha. Buyogoma, in the east of Burundi, had experienced the first wave of conversion to Catholicism at the beginning of the twentieth century. Prince Kiraranganya was the first chief baptized there. After primary school and catechism in the parish of Rusengo, a branch of Muyaga that became a mission in 1923, Ntuyahaga was baptized in 1924 and entered the minor seminary in Mugera in 1926, then the major seminary in Rwanda (in Kabagayi, then in Nyakibanda) in 1933. He was ordained a priestin Gitega in 1941.

After two years of teaching in the seminary of Mugera, he officiated in different parishes until 1954 notably in that of Makebuko where he was the parish priest for three years Then he left to study ...

Article

Louis B. Gallien

community activist, minister, author, lecturer, and racial reconciler, was the last child born to Maggie and Jasper Perkins in New Hebron, Mississippi, sharecroppers whose family worked on cotton farms on the smaller white plantations of south central Mississippi. Perkins's mother died of pellagra—a vitamin deficiency disease that ravaged poor families in the Deep South, seven months after his birth. Little is known of the circumstances of his father's life except that he was an itinerant sharecropper and bootlegger.

Perkins's early life was shaped by the brutal murder of his brother, Clyde, after arriving home from World War II. Clyde was shot by a white police officer outside a theater after he reached for the officer's baton when the policeman threatened him. Perkins graduated from Wiggins Vocational School and soon afterward decided to move to California where he married his childhood friend, Vera Mae Buckley ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

minister, educator, and humanitarian, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of Hughes Proctor, who worked at the Norfolk Navy Yard, and Velma Gladys. His parents had met as students at Norfolk Mission College, the same college attended by Velma's parents; Hughes's mother had attended Hampton Institute during Reconstruction. It was unusual for a black family to have such educated parents and grandparents so soon after slavery, and Samuel and his six siblings were raised to believe that educational attainment was natural and expected. Music and religious devotion also helped shape Samuel's childhood. His father played the violin, he played the clarinet, and the other children were each encouraged to learn an instrument. They entertained themselves at home, and they all sang in the choir of the Baptist church founded by his great-grandfather Zechariah Hughes.

As a boy Samuel shined shoes at local barbershops one ...

Article

Ashley M. Howard

As early as 1788 the Free African Society of Philadelphia branded liquor evil and refused membership to all drinkers. It was not until 1829, however, that African Americans formed their first temperance organization, the New Haven (Connecticut) Temperance Society of the People of Color. Less than two years later, more than two hundred African Americans in Baltimore, Maryland, founded their own temperance society, adopting the stance that temperate behavior would provide evidence of the strong moral character of blacks and would serve as a tool against racism. These early groups relied on white funding and accepted a mainstream reform agenda, emphasizing alcohol's destructive effect in the American community.

By 1836, with the establishment of the New England Colored Temperance Society led by the black abolitionists John W. Lewis, Jehiel C. Beman, and Amos G. Beman temperance ideology was linked to a larger battle against slavery ...

Article

David Michel

minister and social activist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and during his childhood lived in Chicago, Illinois, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His Pentecostal mother was a nurse and his Muslim father a painter. Rivers's parents separated when he was three, and he was reared by his mother. While living in Philadelphia during his teenage years, Rivers joined a gang whose leaders constantly harassed him. In 1963 he responded to a message delivered by the Reverend Billy Graham through the Hour of Decision radio program. Consequently Rivers joined Deliverance Evangelistic Church, pastored by the Reverend Benjamin Smith. Smith helped Rivers get out of gang life and counseled him in many ways.

In 1968 Rivers won a scholarship to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts College studies opened a new world for Rivers who had by then become estranged from Smith The young Rivers had observed the activism of the ...

Article

Cassandra Veney

minister and founder of Operation Crossroads Africa, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, one of six children of Henry John Robinson, a slaughterhouse laborer, and Willie Bell Banks a washerwoman Robinson grew up in abject poverty in a section of town called the Bottoms where poor blacks and whites lived Because of his father s frequent periods of unemployment and his mother s failing health the Robinson family could not escape the reality of poverty and segregation in the Jim Crow South Those already at the bottom of the economic pile were also denied access to the educational opportunities that might otherwise have helped them to escape poverty Given the dire circumstances in which the family lived Robinson had a difficult time accepting the strong religious convictions of his father who was a member of a sanctified church and spent much of his free time there As his ...

Article

Arthur C. Verge

minister and political activist, was born in Los Angeles, California. The names of his parents are unknown. Primarily educated in Los Angeles–area schools, Russell also studied theology in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the early 1930s at the nation's International College. Russell later remarked that his experiences studying abroad profoundly influenced his thinking about the plight of fellow African Americans in the United States. Foremost among his overseas memories was a visit to Weimar Germany, where the Los Angeles cleric witnessed firsthand the rise of Adolph Hitler's Nationalist Socialist (Nazi) Party and its racist ideology.

In 1936 Russell took over the pastorate of Los Angeles's People's Independent Church. This church, which had emanated in 1915 from the black community s more conservative and powerful First African Methodist Episcopal AME Church became known for its outreach programs for poor and disenfranchised blacks Within a year into Russell s tenure the People ...

Article

Doctor and writer who was born in Jamaica and grew up in Stewart Town. He studied medicine in Glasgow, later touring Scotland and Ireland to raise funds for Africans to Christianize Africa. He left for the Congo in 1886, where he ran a sanatorium. He returned to Europe in 1887 and eventually took an MD degree at Brussels in 1893; in the same year he went to the African Training Institute at Colwyn Bay, a training school for Africans. He went to Calabar, Nigeria, for the Institute. This experience stimulated his writing, and in 1899 he published The British Empire and Alliances: Britain's Duty to Her Colonies and Subject Races, in which he attacked the disparagement of Africans and pointed out the similarities across societies in development. In 1903 his Chamberlain and Chamberlainism: His Fiscal Policies and Colonial Policy attacked the controversial Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain ...

Article

John G. Turner

teacher, missionary, and social worker, was born Lucy Gantt in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the daughter and only child of a mixed-race former slave, Eliza Gantt. Her father, who may have been white, played no role in her upbringing. As a young child Lucy attended school between cotton seasons. At the age of eleven she gained admission to Talladega College, a school for blacks run by the Missionary Association of the Congregational Church. Eliza Gantt worked as a domestic servant to pay her daughter's tuition for the nine years that Lucy spent at Talladega.

During her last several years at Talladega, Gantt taught in one-room rural schools during the summer months. She took voice lessons at Talladega and toured for a year with Frederick J. Loudin's Jubilee Singers. In 1886 she secured employment as a teacher in Grayton Alabama where she lived and taught in a ...