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David B. McCarthy

Presbyterianeducator and activist, was born Thelma Cornelia Davidson at Iron Station, North Carolina, one of five children of Robert James Davidson, a Baptist minister, schoolteacher, and principal, and Violet Wilson Davidson a schoolteacher mortician and community organizer Her grandfather six uncles and three brothers were all ministers as would be her future husband She grew up in Spindale North Carolina where her mother was a teacher and her father was principal and superintendent of Western Union Baptist Academy and later in Kings Mountain North Carolina where her father served as a high school principal and as the pastor of several local churches After her early years in public school she enrolled in Lincoln Academy a boarding school run by the American Missionary Society of the Congregational Church Just before her thirteenth birthday she enrolled in Barber Scotia Junior College in Concord North Carolina a school of ...

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Robson Cruz

Brazilian Candomblé high priestess (or Iyalorisha), also known as Ọyafunmi (her initiatic name), was born Olga Francisca Régis in Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia, to Mateus Cassiano dos Reis and Etelvina Francisca Régis (Ogunlona), members of a family of Candomblé Ketu priests and priestesses. She was the fifth high priestess of the Ile Maroialaji terreiro (Ile Ọmọ Aro Alaji, or the House of the Children of Alaji of the Aro clan). The terreiro was founded in the early nineteenth century by Otampe Ojaro (Maria do Rosário Régis) and Baba Alaji (João Porfírio Régis), both of whom belonged to the Ọja Aro clan—one of the five clans from which the king of Ketu is chosen.

According to the terreiro’s oral account, Otampe Ojaro and her twin sister, Obokô Mixobi—allegedly granddaughters of the Alaketu (ruler of the Yoruba kingdom of Ketu) Akebiowu (1780–1795 were abducted in a ...

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Robert Baum

Senegalese prophetess was born in the southwestern Senegalese township of Kabrousse a member of the Diola ethnic group Today the Diola number approximately six hundred thousand people primarily in Senegal but there are significant communities in Gambia and Guinea Bissau Generally the Diola are considered the best wet rice farmers in West Africa though they have been increasingly troubled by droughts since the 1930s Although many Diola are Muslim or Catholic in their primary religious affiliation they include the largest number of adherents of an indigenous African religion in the Senegambia region Before the colonial occupation by the French British and Portuguese the Diola had a tradition of direct revelation from the supreme being but it was limited to male prophetic leaders Shortly after colonization in the last years of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth women prophets began to gain influence especially among the southern ...

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John Burdick

semi-mythical Brazilian folk saint, is placed by oral and written legends as living either in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. Although officially unrecognized by the Catholic Church, in the late twentieth century she became a widely revered object of spiritual devotion throughout Brazil. The broadly disseminated graphic image of a woman of African descent, sometimes pictured with blue eyes, tortured by an iron face mask and heavy iron collar, is today regarded by millions of Brazilians as a realistic likeness of the popular saint.

In 1968 as part of an exhibit dedicated to the history of slavery the Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Homens Pretos Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Brotherhood of Blacks in downtown Rio de Janeiro featured an image of a female slave wearing a face mask A cluster of women who saw the image at the time concluded it ...

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Sherry Wright

religious leader, was born in Wisconsin. The names of her parents are not known, but there is evidence that she was of mixed African American and Native American heritage. “Mother Leafy Anderson,” as she was known to her followers, claimed Mohawk as well as African American ancestry. Little is known of her childhood, but she already had become heavily involved in the Spiritualist movement by the time she reached her twenties. In 1913 Anderson established her first congregation, the Church of the Redemption, on State Street in Chicago. It was also known as the Eternal Life Christian Spiritualist Church, a name shared by many of her churches and by the first recorded organization of Spiritualist churches, also founded by Anderson.

Spiritualist churches were known for healing prophecy and especially for conveying messages from important spirits of the dead The spirits that Anderson claimed to have contacted most often were ...

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Matthew Kustenbauder

a Luo woman, helped to found and lead two African-initiated churches. The third of four children, Aoko was born in July 1943 in the town of Awasi, nineteen miles east of Kisumu in Nyanza Province, Kenya. Her educational background is uncertain. In interviews she called herself “uneducated” and claimed to know neither Kiswahili nor English, suggesting that she did not attend school beyond the primary level. Young Aoko was winsome by all accounts—“photogenic,” “tall with a smooth blackness,” and a “beautiful well-proportioned face” (Dirven, 1970, p. 126).

Against Aoko’s wishes not to marry, in 1957 her conservative father arranged a marriage to Simeo Owiti, a Catholic friend from Njoro near Nakuru. Three years later, the couple relocated south of the Kenya border to Bugire in the North Mara district of Tanganyika. Here, Aoko attended Tatwe a Catholic mission run by the Maryknoll fathers where she learned the catechism ...

Article

born on 22 March 1962 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Her mother was Ana Almánzar, a saleswoman, and her father, the journalist Fermín Arias Belliard, was well known for his humorous political column “Bocadillo” (A Snack) published from the 1970s through the 1990s in different newspapers throughout the country (La Información, El Sol, El Nacional, and El Siglo), and his satirical political radio show Con Pique y Sin Pique (With or Without Rage). Arias has three daughters from her first marriage to Rafael Castillo in August 1982 (Paloma, Lucero, and Violeta). This marriage ended in February 2002; she wed the American scholar Christopher McGrath, in August 2008.

Aurora Arias grew up surrounded by the political and social instability that followed the assassination on 31 May 1961 of the dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Within a few years of the formal end of the ...

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James Chrismer

evangelist and African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister, was born a freewoman near Havre de Grace, Harford County, Maryland. One of seven children of William and Harriet Lego Cole, she was descended from a family that included a Native American maternal great-grandmother married to an Englishman, a maternal grandfather born in Guinea, and a paternal grandmother reputedly freed from slavery by a Baltimore court after enduring an unwarranted and savage beating while pregnant. In October 1845, when she was sixteen years of age, Harriet married William Baker, ten years her senior and a slave on the Edward Gallop plantation in Michaelsville, a nearby Maryland hamlet.

In 1847 when the couple learned of Gallop s plan to sell William to a slave dealer in Georgia they fled north with their infant daughter After a forty eight mile flight along the western bank of the Susquehanna River they crossed ...

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Enrico Ille

freed slave and Roman Catholic saint in Sudan, was born in the Darfur region near Agilerei Mountain, northeast of Nyala. Her father was a wealthy Daju (black African Muslim) who owned numerous cattle and a farm cultivated by servants. She had three brothers and four sisters, one of whom was kidnapped into slavery around 1874. Around 1876, Bakhita, which means “fortunate” in Arabic and is not her original name, was herself taken by slave traders; and after a failed attempt to escape, she was bought by a merchant in al-Ubayyid, where she served his two daughters. She was subsequently purchased around 1879 by an Ottoman army officer, who moved with his household to Khartoum in 1882 In this family she was treated brutally with whipping and scarification but several months afterward she was acquired by an Italian consular agent Callisto Legnani When he was forced by political ...

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Tonia M. Compton

Catholic nun, was born Mathilda Taylor in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Caroline Taylor, a slave owned by James C. Taylor, whose surname he gave to his slaves. Her father, whose name is not known, was Native American. Little is known about Mathilda's early years, except that she learned to read and write and that she somehow received her freedom and moved to Savannah. There she began operating a secret school for African American children in the late 1850s, an enterprise for which she risked imprisonment because state laws prohibited education for blacks.

Taylor supported herself by working a variety of jobs in Savannah. In the 1860s she was employed at the Railroad House, a restaurant owned by Abraham Beasley, a prosperous free black man. In 1869 she married Beasley His ventures included a produce market a saloon a boardinghouse and at times the slave trade The two ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Dona Beatrice was born Kimpa Vita in the Kongo kingdom (present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo, or Congo Kinshasa). As a young woman, Vita (later baptized Beatrice and known as Dona Beatrice) led a religious movement to restore the empire to its former glory during a period of instability and fragmentation within the Kongo kingdom. Beatrice began her movement, later called Antonianism, in 1704, when she claimed to have had a near-death vision of Saint Anthony. She said the popular Portuguese saint appeared to her as an African, after which she died and came back to life as the saint. Soon afterward she began preaching a religious message that combined an anti-Catholic Christianity with Kongo culture, through which she hoped to reunite the Kongo kingdom.

Within months Beatrice established a church in the Kongo capital of São Salvador Although based on Christian theology Beatrice preached that the founders ...

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Sylvia M. Jacobs

teacher and missionary, was born Eva Coles in Charlottesville, Virginia. Nothing is known about her parents or her early years. She is sometimes confused with Elizabeth Coles, and her parents are often erroneously listed as John J. Coles and Lucy A. Henry Coles, who married in 1886 and went to Liberia as missionaries in 1887.

Eva Coles was one of the first young women to attend Hartshorn Memorial College in Richmond, Virginia. This institution had been established in 1883 by northern white Baptists as the world's first college for African American females (Spelman College in Atlanta did not become a college until 1924, and Bennett College in North Carolina was coeducational until 1926 Hartshorn was established by the American Baptist Home Mission Society ABHMS through the donation of Joseph C Hartshorn of Rhode Island as a memorial to his late wife The first classes at ...

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Mary Krane Derr

Roman Catholic religious leader, sacred music performer, and social justice activist, was born Bertha J. Bowman in Yazoo City, Mississippi, the granddaughter of slaves and only child of physician Theon Edward Bowman and high school music teacher Mary Esther Coleman. Baptized an Episcopalian, Bertha attended Methodist services. Growing up in segregated, impoverished Canton, Mississippi, she absorbed the spirituality and music of black community elders and her parents' own deep commitments to lives of service. At age ten, she chose to be baptized as a Roman Catholic because she admired the work of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) in Canton. In the face of public uproar, white nuns from this order taught black students at Holy Child Jesus Catholic School. Unable to read after five years of poor quality education in segregated public schools, Bertha finally became literate after transferring to this school in 1949 ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

one of the first four graduates from Fisk University, school teacher, missionary, founder of the Tennessee and National Baptist Women's Convention, was born free in Nashville, Tennessee, to Nelson and Eliza Smart Walker. Her father had been enslaved in Virginia, but was allowed to hire his time, earning enough money to purchase both his own freedom and that of his wife. Moving to Tennessee, by 1870 he had accumulated $1,200 in real property working as a barber, while Eliza Walker worked as a dressmaker, supporting three daughters and three sons (1870 Census). Virginia was named for the state of her father's nativity, “which he never ceased to praise” (Broughton, p. 7).

At an early age she enrolled at a private school in Nashville, opened in the 1850s by Daniel Watkins, later pastor of the First Colored Christian Church. When Fisk School convened 9 January 1866 Walker ...

Article

Henry B. Lovejoy

Free black creole of the Lucumí nation, and leader of the famous Mutual Aid Society of the Lucumí Nation of Santa Bárbara, remembered among modern-day practitioners of Cuban Santería as Ṣàngó tẹ̀ dún.

Little documentation exists for Maria Francisca Camejo, and from birth she could have been enslaved or free. The name “Camejo” was common throughout Spain’s empire, and to this day remains popular in the tobacco-growing region of the Piñar del Rio region in western Cuba. Since the eighteenth century, if not earlier, this family engaged in tobacco production for the royal monopoly based at the factory in Havana. By the 1790s a branch of this family residing and trading tobacco in the capital city likely owned María Francisca as a domestic slave. Camejo identified as Lucumí, but baptism records from the early nineteenth century indicate she identified as a “black creole” (morena criolla Like so many ...

Article

Candy  

Timothy J. McMillan

slave and accused witch, was one of the few blacks in colonial New England to be born in the English colony of Barbados. Candy came to Salem Village, Massachusetts, with her owner Margarett Hawke sometime in the years immediately preceding the notorious witchcraft panic of 1692. As with many of the key players in the Salem witch trials, Candy has left little in the historical record other than the accusations against her, court testimony, and the judgment against her. Still, even this small amount of information is compelling. There were strong economic and political ties between Salem and Barbados, resting on the shipping industry and trade in slave-manufactured goods, particularly sugar and cotton. In fact the Reverend Samuel Parris and his famous Amerindian slave Tituba also were from Barbados and it was in his household that the witch panic of 1692 began.

On 2 July 1692 Candy was ...

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David B. McCarthy

Presbyterian minister, educator, and womanist ethicist, was born in Concord, North Carolina, the daughter of Corine Emmanuelette Lytle, a domestic and Avon saleswoman, and Esau Cannon, a millworker, both of whom were elders in the local Presbyterian church. Cannon grew up with three sisters, three brothers, her parents, and her extended family in the Fishertown community, a part of the rural, segregated town of Kannapolis, North Carolina, the home of Cannon Mills. Her earliest work was as a domestic, cleaning the homes of nearby white mill workers. At the age of seventeen Cannon graduated from George Washington Carver High School and then enrolled at nearby Barber-Scotia College, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1971 with a BS in Elementary Education.

In August 1971 Cannon enrolled in Johnson C Smith Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center ITC in Atlanta where Dean James H Costen encouraged her ...

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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 ...

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Jeremy Rich

may have been born in Alexandria, Egypt around 290 ce. Though Catherine became identified as a saint in both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christian traditions, there is considerable debate over whether or not she even existed. No contemporary historical sources from Catherine’s purported lifetime offer any details about her. The notable Byzantine church historian Eusebius did not mention Catherine of Alexandria in his detailed overview of Christian martyrs killed during the rule of the last Roman emperors who persecuted followers of Jesus prior to the rule of Constantine. Eusebius described in vivid detail the executions of Christian women in Alexandria and celebrated their willingness to give their lives for the faith. However, he never mentioned any particular woman named Catherine. Believers in Catherine’s veracity contended that she was one of the Egyptian female martyrs.

The first accounts of Catherine s life only appear in the eighth century in ...