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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 ...

Article

R. Baxter Miller

scholar and educator, was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of James Stanley Dykes and Martha Ann Howard. Eva graduated from M Street High (later Paul Laurence Dunbar High School) in 1910. As valedictorian of her class, she won a $10 scholarship from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to attend Howard University, where in 1914 she graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English. After a year of teaching Latin and English at the now defunct Walden University in Nashville, Tennessee, and for another year elsewhere, she was urged by James Howard, a physician and uncle on her mother's side, to enter Radcliffe College in 1916. Subsequently, she earned a second BA in English, magna cum laude, in 1917. Elected Phi Beta Kappa, she received an MA in English in 1918 and a PhD in English philology in 1921 Her dissertation was titled ...

Article

Sara Graves Wheeler

university president and clergyman, was born in Paris, Henry County, Tennessee, the son of the Reverend Wyatt Johnson, a stationary engine operator in a mill, and Caroline Freeman. Johnson received his grammar school education in Paris, but in 1903 he enrolled in the Academy of the Roger Williams University in Nashville, Tennessee. The school burned in 1905, so Johnson finished the semester at the Howe Institute in Memphis. In the fall of that year, he moved to Atlanta to finish high school in the preparatory department of Atlanta Baptist College (renamed Morehouse College in 1913). There he completed a bachelor's degree in 1911. While at Atlanta Baptist, Johnson played varsity football and tennis, sang in various groups, and began his long career as a public speaker on the debating team.

After graduating, Johnson became an English instructor at his alma mater. For the 1912 ...

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 ...

Article

Ralph E. Luker

Baptist pastor and civil rights activist, was born Michael King in Stockbridge, Georgia, the son of James Albert King, an impoverished sharecropper, and Delia Linsey, a cleaning woman and laundress. As a boy King attended school for three to five months a year in an old frame building, where Mrs. Lowe the wife of the pastor of Floyd s Chapel Baptist Church taught 234 children in all grades At Floyd s Chapel King gained confidence as a singer and began to feel the call to preach At fifteen when he delivered a trial sermon at Floyd s Chapel and was licensed to preach King had learned to read but could not yet write As a young country preacher he occasionally visited Atlanta At twenty he left Stockbridge and settled there He lived in a rooming house and worked at various jobs including making tires in a ...

Article

Jeff Bloodworth

civil rights activist and minister, was born James Morris Lawson Jr. in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, the oldest boy in a family of nine children. His parents, James Lawson Sr., a minister, and Philane Cover both were immigrants to the United States, Lawson from Canada and Cover from Jamaica. Lawson Jr.'s paternal great grandfather was a runaway slave who settled in Canada and took the last name Lawson to honor the man who helped him escape via the Underground Railroad. Thereafter the family always greatly valued education, and Lawson's father became one of McGill University's first black graduates before he moved to the United States to serve as a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church. Though the Lawsons moved throughout the country, they finally settled in Massillon, Ohio, where young James Lawson grew up.

Raised by a pacifist mother and strict father Lawson was converted to nonviolence ...

Article

Peter C. Murray

clergyman and civil rights leader, was born in Huntsville, Alabama, to LeRoy Lowery, a store owner, and Dora (Fackler) Lowery, a teacher. Born in the era of Jim Crow, Lowery early had to learn the harsh reality of discrimination against African Americans in Alabama. Lowery grew up with the nurturing influence of the black church, especially Methodism. One of his great grandfathers, Echols Lowery, had founded the local Huntsville Methodist Church and his mother's family included several African Methodist Episcopal Church ministers. In 1928 he began his schooling and in 1936 he enrolled in high school at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College's (A&M) laboratory school. After graduating from high school in 1939, Lowery attended Knoxville College and Alabama A&M before transferring to Paine College in Augusta, Georgia, and graduating in 1943 with a BA in Sociology His first job out of college was as ...

Article

Lawrence H. Mamiya

leader of the Nation of Islam, was born Robert Poole in Sandersville, Georgia, the son of William Poole, an itinerant Baptist preacher and sharecropper, and Mariah Hall, a domestic for local white families. In 1900 the family moved to Cordele, Georgia, where Muhammad went to public school until the fourth grade, when he dropped out to supplement his family's income as a laborer in sawmills and with the Cherokee Brick Company. In 1919 he married Clara Evans [Muhammad] of Cordele, and they had two daughters and six sons.

With thousands of other African Americans from the rural South, Muhammad migrated to Detroit, Michigan, in the early 1920s. A depressed southern agricultural economy hampered by boll weevil infestation of cotton crops and increasing mechanization of farm labor forced many small farmers to join the Great Migration to the booming industrial cities of the North Muhammad and some of ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Peter Wallenstein

minister and congressman, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of the ReverendAdam Clayton Powell Sr. and Mattie Fletcher Shaffer. The family moved to New York City in 1909 after the senior Powell became minister of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, then located at Fortieth Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues. In 1923, at the elder Powell's urging, the church and the family joined the surge of black migration uptown to Harlem, with the church moving to 138th Street between Seventh and Lenox avenues.

Adam Powell Jr. earned an AB at Colgate University in 1930 and an AM in Religious Education at Columbia University in 1932. So light-skinned that he could pass for white, and did so for a time at Colgate, he came to identify himself as black, and, although from a comfortable background, he advocated the rights of workers.

Powell s rise to ...

Article

Pellom McDaniels

professional football player and minister, was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to unmarried parents, nineteen-year-old Thelma Dodd, and Charles White, a semiprofessional baseball player. As a child growing up within the close-knit extended family the Dodds provided, White was mostly influenced by his aunts and cousins, but especially by his maternal grandmother. Mildred Dodd was called “Mother” by all, and she was the first to introduce the young White to the Christian faith. At the age of thirteen, White declared his faith in Jesus Christ and began his quest for truth, living his life by the lessons he learned in the Bible. The future “Minister of Defense” would grow physically and mentally in his convictions and in his dedication to his new identity. In 1979 White now seventeen was ordained as a minister at St John s Baptist Church where he testified openly and unapologetically to both ...