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Mary T. Henry

bishop, civil rights leader, and educator, was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to Rev. Eugene Avery Adams and Charity Nash Adams. He and his three siblings, Avery, Charity, and Lucy Rose, were raised in a spiritual and intellectually stimulating home. His father, an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister and social activist, in the 1920s organized the first African American bank in Columbia and the first modern statewide civil rights organization in South Carolina. None of these activities went unnoticed by young John and they helped to define his later focus and commitments. Adams was educated in the segregated Columbia school system and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. His undergraduate work was completed at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he earned an AB degree in History in 1947 After studying at Boston University School of Theology he received a bachelor of ...

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Richard Bardolph

John Wesley Edward Bowen was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 3, 1855, the son of Edward and Rose (Simon) Bowen. Edward, a carpenter, had moved from Maryland to New Orleans, where he was ensnared in slavery and held in bondage until he purchased his own freedom. Subsequently he purchased freedom for his wife and his son John, then three years old. Edward Bowen later served in the Union Army during the Civil War (1861–1865).

The newly freed parents who were intelligent industrious and ambitious themselves quickly recognized their son s similar gifts and directed him in early childhood to the best education that their means and circumstances allowed They enrolled him in New Orleans University established for blacks by the Methodist Episcopal Church and there he attained his basic education from the first grade up through college years He received his bachelor s ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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

educator and clergyman, 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 employee, John Wilson ...

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

Stephen Butler Murray

Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church at Harvard University, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He was the only child of Peter Lobo Gomes, a cranberry bog laborer who had immigrated from the Cape Verde Islands, and Orissa Josephine Gomes (née White), a member of a prominent family in the black aristocracy of Boston, a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, and the first black woman to work in the Massachusetts State House, where she was a principal Clerk. Peter J. Gomes was raised in the predominantly white town of Plymouth Massachusetts where he was the only black student in his class An exceptional student and the president of his class Gomes devoted himself to the First Baptist Church of Plymouth where his mother played the organ and directed the choir and where Gomes preached his first sermon at the age of ...

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Allan D. Austin

Muslim teacher who is variously known as Kibbe, Lamen Abd al-Amin, and Paul. Beyond two short notices in the African [Colonization Society's] Repository (1835) and a mention in a list of Liberian colonists, all that is known about Kebe was recorded by Theodore Dwight Jr., African Colonizationist and a founder and secretary of the American Ethnological Society.

Lamine Kebe was born into a prominent family of the influential Kaba, or Kebe, of the Jakhanke clan of the Soninke or Serahule people. These were the founders of ancient Ghana, according to some accounts, and, more conclusively, twelfth-century converts to Islam from an area near the bend of the Niger River in present-day Mali. A short history of his people by Kebe accurately but sketchily describes the migration of a pragmatic, dedicated Qāadirīya brotherhood of teachers of Islam toward Kebe's Futa Jallon (home of Bilali ...

Article

Richard J. Boles

minister, teacher, missionary, and abolitionist, was born free in New York City during the spring of 1793. His parents and the circumstances of his childhood are unknown. Around 1800 Levington relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he spent most of his adolescence and worked in the bookstore of Sheldon Potter. There he became a friend and protégé of Sheldon's brother, Alonzo Potter, who eventually became the Episcopal bishop of Pennsylvania and who helped secure Levington's entry into the Protestant Episcopal ministry. In 1819 Levington moved to Albany, New York, under Potter's mentorship. Potter became a professor at Union College and he unofficially instructed Levington part-time there until he returned to Philadelphia in 1822 In Albany Levington was employed as a teacher in a school for African American children and he attended St Peter s Church It was likely through his teaching position that ...

Article

Vincent F. A. Golphin

clergyman, and the first African American Roman Catholic archbishop in the United States, was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, the sixth of eight children of Jesus Maria Marino, a baker, and Lottie Irene Bradford a maid After an elementary and high school education in parish schools the future prelate studied for the priesthood as a member of a religious community established to minister to blacks and Native Americans He graduated from St Joseph s Seminary College in Washington D C and later earned a master s degree at Fordham University Marino grew up as a religious minority within a racial minority oppressed by segregation in the Deep South The family was devoutly Catholic in a region of the country that was overwhelmingly Protestant and historically as hostile toward the Church of Rome as it was toward people of African descent Biloxi s Catholic parish for blacks Our Mother ...

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Graham Russell Hodges

Born in France to Huguenot parents, Neau fled to the West Indies along with other French Protestants in 1679 to avoid persecution. There he married and then traveled to North America in the early 1680s. Captured by a French privateer in 1692 while he was on a business trip to London, Neau became a galley slave and later was held in the prison at Marseilles.

While in prison, he wrote a series of letters to correspondents in North America, including Cotton Mather, about his sufferings. Released in 1698 after the end of King Williams's War, Neau migrated to New York City. Although he soon owned slaves and became a minor slave trader, Neau published in 1699 a classic text on the meaning of Jesus s sufferings Only through pain and imprisonment Neau argued could Christians receive the gift of true religious comprehension qualities that any enslaved African American ...

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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

Robert Fay

Christian Jacob Protten was born to a Danish soldier and the daughter of a Ga chief in Christiansborg, Gold Coast. He was educated in the Danish school for mulattos (of African and European descent) in Christiansborg Castle, today part of the city of Accra in Ghana. In 1726 Protten traveled to Denmark to seek further education. There he caught the notice of King Frederick IV, who became Protten's godfather at his baptism on November 27, 1727.

After meeting the leader of a Christian denomination known as the Moravian Brethren and spending a year at their refuge at Herrnhut, Germany, Protten joined the order in 1735. In 1737 he sailed to the Gold Coast present day Ghana to found a Moravian school for Euro African children at the Dutch post of Elmina These plans were frustrated by a war between the Dutch and the Dahomey ...

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 ...

Article

Andrew Sylvester

supercentenarian, was born Emmaline Fanchon May Faust in Sedalia, Guilford County, North Carolina. For a brief period before her death she was the oldest living person in the world. She was the youngest of twenty-three children born to former slaves Alphonso and Martha Faust. Her father worked as a laborer on a farm. In order to escape segregation and dwindling economic and political rights in the Jim Crow South, the Faust family moved to a farm on Hebron Avenue in Glastonbury, Connecticut, in 1900 When she was nine years old Emma s mother taught her how to cook Soon after learning how to cook Emma began working for the Williams family She would go to cook them breakfast before school and then walk the Williams children to school At the age of thirteen Emma was christened at the First Church of Christ Congregational on Main Street ...