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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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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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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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Tyler Cloud

clergyman and civil rights activist, was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was the fifth child of an uneducated railroad employee and a schoolteacher, according to the Hartford Courant. Battles attended Philander Smith College and majored in law at Arkansas Baptist College. After college he studied for the ministry and graduated from the Union Theological Seminary with a bachelor of divinity degree. He was ordained in 1957. His studies were interrupted by World War II, when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After the war he returned to his ministry and began serving as pastor in Beacon, New York, and Jamaica, Queens (New York).

In 1961 Battles moved to Hartford, Connecticut, and became pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church, succeeding the late Reverend Goode S. Clark. In January 1960 the church had just eight hundred members He preached there ...

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Alonford James Robinson

Paul Bogle is a beloved figure in Jamaica. Although his legal status at the time of his birth is unclear, most scholars believe that he was born free in Stony Gut, Jamaica, in 1822. He operated a small independent farm there and became a lay preacher in the Native Baptist Church. His affiliation with this antislavery branch of the Baptist Church brought him into contact with British and Jamaican abolitionists, including activist George Gordon. Methodist and Baptist leaders, as well as leaders of other religious denominations, were active participants in the antislavery struggle. As a result, members of local black congregations like Bogle's were often exposed to antislavery debates, pamphlets, and sermons.

When slavery was abolished in 1834 blacks in Jamaica were promised freedom at the end of what turned out to be a four year period known as apprenticeship The apprenticeship policy forced slaves ...

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Kenneth C. Barnes

educator, clergyman, missionary, and community leader, was born in Columbia County, Georgia, the son of Lewis Bouey, a carpenter, and Maria, a cook. The couple had no other children. Bouey spent his early life in Augusta, Georgia, where he was apprenticed to learn the painter's trade and attended night school. He passed the examination to become licensed as a teacher and taught in the public schools of Augusta for two years. From 1870 to 1873 he attended the Baptist Theological School in Augusta, an institution that later moved to Atlanta and in 1913 was renamed Morehouse College. Upon graduation he moved to Ridge Springs, South Carolina, where he became principal of a school and taught there for two years.

Bouey's work as an educational and community leader brought him into politics in 1874 He was elected to a two year term as probate judge in Edgefield County ...

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Milton C. Sernett

clergyman, was born at Goose Creek, South Carolina, about sixteen miles from Charleston. His slave parents’ names are unknown. George Liele, the itinerant African American Baptist minister from Savannah, Georgia, baptized Bryan in 1782. Bryan married Hannah (maiden name unknown) about nine years after his conversion. Jonathan Bryan, Andrew's master and a New Light Presbyterian sympathetic to the evangelical movement in the South, allowed him to exhort both blacks and whites. About 1790 a white landowner allowed Bryan to build a wooden shed on the outskirts of Savannah at Yamacraw. There Bryan held religious meetings for African Americans, both slave and free, between sunrise and sunset. When white opposition arose, Bryan and his hearers retreated to the nearby swamp to conduct their religious activities.

The evangelical revivals fostered by the Second Great Awakening drew blacks and whites together into common religious circles. In 1788Abraham Marshall ...

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David R. Maginnes

Burns, Anthony (31 May 1829?–27 July 1862), fugitive slave and pastor, was born in Stafford County, Virginia; his parents (names unknown) were slaves of the Suttle family. Burns’s father had died during his infancy. Influenced by his devout mother, he converted to the Baptist faith and later became an unofficial preacher to other slaves. Burns’s owner, Charles F. Suttle, farmed in Stafford until 1852, when he moved to Alexandria to become a commission merchant. Suttle prospered and sufficiently distinguished himself that both communities elected him to various offices.

Intelligent and sensitive Burns taught himself to read and write with the help of two sympathetic young white women who dared ignore Virginia s law against teaching blacks and some white schoolchildren in return for amusing them and doing them small favors From age seven he was hired out annually to employers in Stafford County as well as nearby ...

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Albert J. Von Frank

fugitive slave, born in Stafford County, Virginia, was the youngest of thirteen children. His mother, whose name is not recorded, served as cook for John and Catherine Suttle of Stafford Court House. His father, third husband of Anthony's mother and another of the Suttle slaves, quarried sandstone for the construction of federal buildings in Washington, D.C. Financial reversals following the death of John Suttle impelled Catherine to move the family to Aquia Creek and to sell off a number of slaves, including five of Anthony's siblings. When Catherine died, her son Charles Francis Suttle, by then a dry-goods merchant in Falmouth, mortgaged the remaining slaves and began hiring them out. For two years, 1847–1848, Anthony worked for William Brent, a Falmouth grocer and close friend of Suttle's. In 1849 refusing a third year with Brent and threatening to escape unless his refusal was honored he was ...

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Alonford James Robinson

The debate over slavery in America was already filled with acrimony and violence when Anthony Burns, a black fugitive slave, was arrested in Boston, Massachusetts, for violating the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Just four years after the controversial law was passed, the Burns case, as it is known, sparked outrage among abolitionists throughout New England.

After being arrested in May 1854 Burns was placed in leg irons, as authorities prepared to return him to servitude in Richmond, Virginia. His arrest, however, galvanized New England abolitionists already opposed to the Fugitive Slave Act. Two days after Burns was imprisoned, abolitionists stormed the courthouse in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue the former slave forcibly, and a deputy was killed.

Fearing more violence federal officials sent armed military troops to defend the courthouse while Burns was ordered returned to his owner in Virginia When the day came to send ...

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Linda M. Carter

escaped slave and minister, was born in Greenville County, Kentucky. Until Campbell was in his thirties, he worked for various masters in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee respectively. When Campbell was approximately eighteen years old, he married a slave named Matilda. In 1837 the Campbells joined a church and were baptized. Less than two years later, Campbell began preaching. By the late 1840s, Campbell was a widower, and he was determined to not endure slavery any longer; thus he fled to Canada, where he was reunited with Washington Campbell, one of his six siblings. The brothers were partners in several Canadian business ventures.

After passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, Campbell became an agent for Henry Bibb's Voice of the Fugitive which was the first black newspaper in Canada Campbell was also a delegate to the Fugitive Convention of Canada and on behalf of the ...

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Jeremy Rich

Christian missionary and promoter of African American settlement in Liberia, was born a slave in Charles City County, Virginia, United States, around 1780. Little is known of his early life, though his father was thought to have been a Baptist. In 1803, Cary’s master hired him out to work at the Shockoe tobacco warehouse in the nearby city of Richmond. Cary’s diligence and industriousness impressed his new employers, who began to pay him a wage after they had sent a set fee to Cary’s master. This extra money allowed Cary to save money for himself, so that one day he could buy his freedom and the liberty of his wife and two children. Although he accused himself of swearing often and carousing during his early years at the warehouse, Cary had a religious experience in 1807 and became a Baptist At this point he had never received any ...

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Milton C. Sernett

Baptist preacher and missionary to Africa, was born on a plantation in Charles City County, Virginia, thirty miles from Richmond, the son of slave parents (names unknown). His grandmother Mihala had a strong influence on Lott's early religious development. He married around 1800 and, with his first wife (name unknown), had two children. Lott's master sent him to Richmond in 1804 as a hired slave laborer. He worked in the Shockoe Tobacco Warehouse first as a laborer and then as a shipping clerk. (The spelling of Cary's name as “Carey” is probably due to confusion in some primary sources with the well-known English Baptist, the Reverend William Carey. Lott Cary, however, signed his name as “Cary.”)

Cary attended the predominantly white First Baptist Church, as did other blacks in Richmond. He experienced conversion in 1807 after hearing a sermon on Jesus and Nicodemus Allowed to earn money ...

Article

Robert Rotberg

colonial Malawi’s first leader of an anticolonial rebel movement, was born in the late 1860s or early 1870s to a Yao father and a Cewa (or possibly Mang’anja) mother. His rising in 1915 was more symbolic than effective, but it frightened whites and British colonial rulers in a manner that was equaled only much later by the Mau Mau movement in Kenya.

A few years after his birth, the family moved from Sanganu, in the Chiradzulu district of southern Malawi, to Blantyre, the only city in what was then the emerging British Protectorate of Nyasaland. Scottish Presbyterian missionaries had arrived in the vicinity of Blantyre in 1876 white farmers had followed and colonial rule quickly became implanted By moving to Blantyre for employment or other reasons Chilembwe was able to become an early student of the Blantyre Mission of the Church of Scotland He was able as ...

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Tim Stapleton

John Chilembwe (c. 1871–1915) was a member of the early Westernized Christian elite in the British colony of Nyasaland (now Malawi). In the early 1890s, during the period of colonial conquest, Chilembwe received his initial education from Scottish Presbyterian missionaries, who were predominant in that area. However, within a few years he became a member of the Baptist Church under the mentorship of the nonconformist British missionary Joseph Booth. Much to the alarm of the colonial authorities, Booth preached against the colonial system and its inherent racial discrimination, and was later expelled from Nyasaland, in 1905.

In 1897 Chilembwe traveled to the United States with Booth and attended a small African American theological college in Lynchburg, Virginia. It was here that he became fascinated with the history of John Brown, a radical white American abolitionist who had been executed in 1859 for attempting to start a ...

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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 ...

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Barbara A. White

fugitive slave, Baptist minister, and abolitionist leader on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, was born the son of his wealthy white owner and Mary, one of his father's slaves on a plantation in Virginia. No account has been found yet which reveals his father's name or how James Crawford himself was named. Though stories about how and when he escaped slavery are in conflict, all of them agree that his white half brother broke his promise to their dying father to free Crawford. Instead, Crawford was sent into the fields to work. His obituary in the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror claimed that he escaped the first time by running to Florida to live among the Seminole Indians for two years as a preacher The same account claimed that his half brother then the master of the plantation spent a fortune to recapture him and then strung him up by the thumbs ...

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Julia Sun-Joo Lee

slave, shoemaker, and pastor, was born in Madison County, Virginia, to John and Jane Davis, slaves belonging to Robert Patten, a wealthy merchant and mill owner. Both of Davis's parents were devout Baptists who instilled in Davis a strong relationship to the church.

By Davis's account, Patten was a comparatively fair master who valued his slaves and who accorded John Davis many privileges, among them the ability to raise livestock and to keep his children with him until they were old enough to go into trade. John Davis was the head miller at Patten's merchant mill located on Crooked Run, a stream between Madison and Culpeper County. He was able to read and figure, but he could not write.

When Noah Davis was about twelve Patten sold his mill and emancipated Davis s mother and father Davis s family moved to one of Patten ...

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Charles Rosenberg

minister, active in the Underground Railroad, reputed to have founded ten churches, including the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, was born in 1833 on a plantation in New Kent County, Virginia. By the laws of that state, he was the property of the Ferrell family. His name was variously spelled Dungee, Dungy, Dunjy, and Dunjee. His children adopted the Dunjee spelling.

Five Ferrell heirs moved to Alabama, and sold the family's Virginia plantation in 1842 to former president John Tyler, who renamed it “Sherwood Forest.” Dungee was hired out to Virginia governor John Munford Gregory, and in later years spoke well of him. However, when the Ferrells—who had sold off many slaves, and had a reputation for severity—sent word that they wanted him sent to Alabama, Dungee escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad in February 1860 arriving first in Hamilton Ontario then traveling via Toronto ...

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Richard Saunders

lawyer and minister, was born James Frank Estes to Melvoid Estes and Bertha Lee Walker Estes in Jackson, Tennessee. Graduated from Lane College in 1942, Estes captained the football team and married a friend and classmate, Frances D. Berry. Enlisting in the Army the same year, he served on active duty in Europe and was one of the few African Americans accepted to Officer Candidate School. Estes was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1943 for the racially segregated 1317th Engineers General Service Regiment. The 1317th engaged in the Normandy landings on D-Day, as well as the Allied Forces Rhineland Campaign and battle for Central Europe. At his discharge in 1945 Estes remained in the reserves and enrolled at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which conferred on him an LL.B. degree in 1948 Returning to Tennessee Estes opened a law office on Beale Street the economic center ...