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Jeremy Rich

Gabonese intellectual and catechist (one who instructs potential Christians before their admission to the Church), was born in the Glass neighborhood of Libreville, the capital of Gabon, a territory acquired by France in 1885. Sonie Harrington, her father, was a prominent trader who belonged to the coastal Omyènè-speaking Mpongwe ethnic group, which had occupied the Gabon Estuary region for centuries. Her mother, who also belonged to a Mpongwe clan, died when Anyentyuwe was very young. Since Harrington traveled to central Gabon on a regular basis to represent different European trading firms, he placed his young daughters Ayentyuwe and Azize with the American-run Protestant mission school of Baraka. This school had been founded in the 1840s to educate Mpongwe girls and boys.

Anyentyuwe represented to many American Presbyterian missionaries a rare hope Most female graduates of mission schools entered into romantic and sexual relationships with visiting European and West ...

Article

Ralph E. Luker

Methodist educator and theologian, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Edward Bowen and Rose Simon. John's father was a carpenter from Maryland who was enslaved when he moved to New Orleans. After purchasing his own freedom, Edward Bowen bought that of his wife and son in 1858 and served in the Union army during the Civil War. After the war, young J. W. E. Bowen studied at the Union Normal School in New Orleans and at New Orleans University, which was founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church for the education of freedmen. Bowen received a bachelor's degree with the university's first graduating class in 1878. Eight years later, New Orleans University awarded him a master's degree. From 1878 to 1882 Bowen taught mathematics and ancient languages at Central Tennessee College in Nashville.

In 1882 Bowen began theological studies at Boston University While he was ...

Article

Sandy Dwayne Martin

Edward McKnight Brawley was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of free African American parents, Ann L. (maiden name unknown) and James M. Brawley. Brawley's parents took a keen interest in the education and professional development of their son, providing him private schooling in Charleston, sending him at the age of ten to Philadelphia to attend grammar school and the Institute for Colored Youth, and having him apprenticed to a shoemaker in Charleston from 1866 to 1869. He enrolled as the first theological student at Howard University for a few months in 1870; he transferred to Bucknell University in Pennsylvania in January 1871. The first African American student at Bucknell, Brawley completed his education with the encouragement and financial support of a white couple named Griffith and his own work teaching vocal music and preaching during school vacations The white Baptist church in ...

Article

Sandy Dwayne Martin

Baptist minister, educator, and editor, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of free African American parents, Ann L. (maiden name unknown) and James M. Brawley. Brawley's parents took a keen interest in the education and professional development of their son, providing him private schooling in Charleston, sending him at the age of ten to Philadelphia to attend grammar school and the Institute for Colored Youth, and apprenticing him to a shoemaker in Charleston from 1866 to 1869. He enrolled as the first theological student at Howard University for a few months in 1870 but then transferred to Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, in January 1871 The first African American student at Bucknell Brawley completed his education with the encouragement and financial support of a white couple named Griffith and with his own work teaching vocal music and preaching during school vacations The white Baptist church ...

Article

Willard B. Gatewood

John Francis Cook was born a slave in the District of Columbia. His mother was Laurena Browning Cook, but his father's identity is unknown. His mother's sister, Alethia Browning Tanner, was clearly a dominant influence in his early life. Although she was a slave, her owner allowed her to hire out her own time, and by operating a profitable vegetable market in Washington, D.C., she acquired the money to purchase her own freedom as well as that of her sister and about twenty-one other relatives and acquaintances, including her nephew. Freed at the age of sixteen, Cook apprenticed himself to a shoemaker in order to earn the money to repay his aunt.

He completed his apprenticeship in 1831 but abandoned shoemaking because of an injured shoulder He secured a job as a messenger in the office of the United States Land Commissioner where a white ...

Article

Maureen Warner-Lewis

was born in the pacifist Nri territory of Igboland in present-day Nigeria. The name of his farmer father, Duru, signifies someone of elite status. His mother, Derenneya, (whose name meant “stay with mother”) was the daughter of a socially prominent father. Archibald’s Igbo name was Aniaso (meaning “what the Earth goddess forbids”). The child of important parents, he was to have received ichi, painful facial scarifications, in a puberty rite, but this expectation was thwarted by his abduction from home. Between 1800 and 1802 when he was about 10 years old he was kidnapped when a houseguest lured him into visiting a large market probably at Lake Oguta that is fed by the River Ulasi Orashi itself a tributary of the River Niger There his guide negotiated with a buyer Aniaso was seized put into a boat bound because he loudly protested and taken out to a large ...

Article

Peter Wallenstein

lawyer and editor, was born in Sussex County, Virginia, the son of Joseph Newsom and Ann (maiden name unknown), former slaves. He graduated from Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute (later Virginia State University) in 1894 and, after teaching for a time in Sussex County, graduated from Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C., in 1899. Newsome joined the Virginia bar in 1899, moved to Phoebus (near Hampton), and then settled in Newport News. He married Mary B. Winfield, an 1892 graduate of Virginia Normal, in 1900; they had one daughter.

Newsome—or “Lawyer Newsome,” as he was known—practiced for four decades in the Newport News area. Active in politics, he served as the assistant sergeant at arms at the 1920 Republican National Convention in Chicago. Yet, bridling at the “lily-white” practices of his party, he ran in 1921 for the office of attorney general ...

Article

Louis J. Parascandola and Camille Beazer

poet and lecturer, was born in Rossmoyne, Ohio, the daughter of John Henry Thompson and Clara Jane Gray, former slaves from Virginia. She was the sister of the poets Clara Ann Thompson and Aaron Belford Thompson. Priscilla attended school in Rossmoyne, near Cincinnati, and was tutored privately. She considered a career in teaching, and her love of learning is evident in her poem “Lines to an Old School-House.” However, ill health, perhaps tuberculosis, prevented her from pursuing this vocation. Instead Thompson devoted her energies to writing, publishing, and giving readings of her poetry. She also worked for her church, Zion Baptist, where she was a Sunday school teacher for many years. She never married but lived in Rossmoyne with her sister Clara and her brother Garland Yancey Thompson, who was a sculptor.

Thompson's first book of poems, Ethiope Lays (1900 is dedicated to Garland ...