mayor and U.S. Congressman, was born in tiny Waxahachie, Texas, into a family of preachers. He came of age in a public housing development near Wichita Falls, Texas, and attended the public schools there. For a time, he wished to pursue a life as a professional football player, but an injury prevented him from seeing that dream to fulfillment. Instead, he attended Texas A&M, from which he graduated in 1968. Falling back onto what was to some large degree the family business, Cleaver earned his Master of Divinity degree from St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri. There, at the behest of Ralph Abernathy he established a chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference He was assigned to St James Church and under his guidance the tiny inner city congregation fewer than thirty regular attendees when Cleaver took over soon blossomed into the one of ...
Jason Philip Miller
pastor, civil rights activist, and U.S. congressman. Walter Edward Fauntroy was the fourth of seven children born in Washington, D.C., to William T. Fauntroy Sr., a U.S. Patent Office clerk, and Ethel Fauntroy, a homemaker. As a boy, Fauntroy became an active member of the New Bethel Baptist Church; the church gave Fauntroy sanctuary against the poverty and crime of secular Washington. As a high school student, Fauntroy experienced his first call to the ministry. After Fauntroy graduated second in his class from Dunbar High School in 1952, some of the members of New Bethel Baptist Church presented him with enough money to pay for his first year at Virginia Union University, where he graduated with honors in 1955 before going on to earn a divinity degree from Yale University.
While at Virginia Union, Fauntroy met the future civil rights activist Martin Luther King ...
Raymond Pierre Hylton
legislator, pastor, and civil rights activist, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of William Thomas Fauntroy and Ethel Vines Fauntroy. His father worked in the U.S. Patent Office. Upon graduating from Dunbar High School in 1952, Fauntroy entered Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. While there he received strong support and encouragement from his pastor, the Reverend Charles David Foster, and he graduated from Virginia Union in 1955 with a BA in History. He received a scholarship to attend Yale University Divinity School, where he earned a bachelor of divinity degree in 1958. In 1959 when his longtime mentor the Reverend Foster died, Fauntroy was named to succeed him as pastor at New Bethel Baptist Church. He married Dorothy Simms on August 3, 1957, and the couple had a son, Marvin Keith, and a daughter, Melissa Alice.
During his ...
minister, politician, educator, and writer. After serving as a U.S. representative from New York, Flake became the minister and leader of New York City's largest African American church, the Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral in Queens. He elevated the membership to over eighteen thousand and assisted the economic growth of the church through concentrated efforts in community development. In 2002 Flake became president of Wilberforce University, one the oldest historically black colleges, in Ohio. He worked in the private, educational, and government sectors while simultaneously serving in the church.
Floyd Harold Flake was born in Los Angeles, the third of thirteen children born to Robert Flake, a janitor, and Rosie Lee Flake a homemaker When Flake was still small the family relocated to Houston Texas Growing up Flake was resourceful and his parents stressed a strong work ethic He was always working delivering ...
Sholomo B. Levy
minister, U.S. Congressman, educator, and business executive, was born in Los Angeles, California, the eighth of thirteen children of Robert Flake Sr., a janitor, and Rosie Lee Johnson. Shortly after Floyd's birth, the family moved into a two-bedroom home in Houston, Texas. The roots of many of Floyd's political beliefs can be traced to his southern upbringing: his family was poor, but proud; racism abounded, but faith and optimism ruled the Flake home.
Floyd s early education took place in segregated poorly equipped schools but his teachers were dedicated and took a stern interest in his academic development One teacher cared enough to make sure that Floyd spent much of his free time involved in youth programs at her African Methodist Episcopal AME Church After graduating from high school Flake entered Wilberforce University the nation s oldest private African American University in Ohio He ...
Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, William H. Gray III was the son of William H. Gray Jr., a Baptist minister and president of two Florida colleges, and Hazel Yates Gray, a high school teacher. In 1949 his father became the pastor of the large and powerful Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and moved the family north. In 1963 Gray graduated from Franklin and Marshall College and became an assistant pastor in Montclair, New Jersey. He earned a master of divinity degree from Drew Theological School in 1966, became senior minister at his church the same year, and earned a degree in theology from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1970 As a minister Gray tried to help his poor parishioners by promoting fair housing programs He also set an important precedent by successfully suing a landlord who refused to rent an apartment to him ...
minister, congressman, businessman, philanthropist, was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the son of William H. Gray Jr., a minister and university president, and Hazel Yates Gray, a university dean. During Gray's early childhood, his father was president of both Florida Memorial College and Florida A&M University, and his mother was dean of students at Southern University in Baton Rouge. However, the family then moved to Philadelphia in 1949. There, Gray's father took a position as pastor of the Bright Hope Baptist Church. William H. Gray Jr.'s own father had held that post since 1925.
Gray was educated in the public school system and graduated from Philadelphia's Simon Gratz High School in 1959. Upon graduation, Gray enrolled at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and pursued his joint interest in religion and politics, even taking an internship with Democratic Congressman Robert ...
Kenneth J. Blume
clergyman, politician, educator, and diplomat, was born a slave on the plantation of Thomas Jones in Elbert County, Georgia. William's mother died when he was nine, and he was obligated to rear his younger siblings while working as a plowboy. His education during his last years of enslavement (1860–1865) was in Sunday school in Elberton, Georgia. Legally prohibited from learning to read or write, he learned largely by memorizing Bible passages. But when he was fifteen the Civil War ended, and Union troops appeared. As he wrote in his memoir, From Slavery to the Bishopric in the A.M.E. Church (1924): “Freedom had come, and I came to meet it” (28). Freedom also meant the end of his Sunday school education, but Heard's father had earned enough money as a wheelwright to pay for William's lessons in spelling, reading, and arithmetic. From 1865 ...
historian and religious leader, was born on 24 June 1846. His father, Henry, was a member of the Saro community, a large group of people who had been liberated from slave ships by the British Navy and then resettled in the British coastal colony of Sierra Leone. Like many other Saro individuals, Johnson’s father originally came from a Yoruba-speaking community in southwest Nigeria. Henry Johnson came from a royal pedigree, as he was the grandson of Alaafin Abiodun, king of the Oyo Empire in the late eighteenth century. Johnson married a Saro woman named Sarah, and their son Samuel was born in the Hastings village near Freetown. Samuel was the third of four children.
By the 1850s, many Saro chose to return to their home regions, and the Johnson family followed this trend by moving to back to Yorubaland in December 1857 There Henry Johnson became an assistant ...
Samuel Johnson (1846–1901) embodied the diversity of thought that struggled to define Africa’s identity and future during the nineteenth century. In a career spanning more than thirty years as a missionary, clergyman, and political agent between the British colony of Lagos and Yoruba states, Johnson negotiated contending intellectual terrains to produce the first and the best-known study published on Nigerian history. His History of the Yorubas from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the British Protectorate is at once historical narrative, cultural exposition, and imaginative repudiation of racialist depictions of Africa. In this work and in his journals and correspondence, Johnson articulated a world view that situates Africa as an important and proud part of human civilization and the Yoruba as a distinct cultural identity.
His background highlights the dilemma that early generations of Western educated African intellectuals confronted and which shaped the intellectual currents of the ...
Benjamin R. Justesen
clergyman and diplomat, was born in Belize, British Honduras, a son of Emmanuel and Ann F. (Bending) Lyon, both of Jamaican descent. He moved with his parents in the 1870s to the United States, where he was educated privately in New Orleans, Louisiana, then at the Gilbert Industrial School in La Teche, Louisiana.
Lyon attended Straight University (now Dillard University) and New Orleans University, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1888, and later a master's degree. He later took courses at Union Theological Seminary of New York, and in the 1890s, received a doctorate in Divinity from Wiley University (now Wiley College) in Marshall, Texas. While still an undergraduate, he was ordained as a Methodist Episcopal minister, serving a series of Louisiana pastorates: La Teche in 1883, followed by three New Orleans churches (Mallalieu, Thompson, and Simpson). In 1894 he was appointed conference Sunday ...
Congolese (Brazza-ville) political and social activist, was born in Manzakala in the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville). His father Ngoma, a Lari-speaking man originally from the village of Mpangala, died before Matsoua was born. His mother Nkoussou, born in Manzakala, thus had to raise him herself. As a child and adolescent, he attended Catholic mission schools in the Mbamou region and at Brazzaville, the capital of French Equatorial Africa. Although he attended seminary, he ultimately abandoned plans for a religious vocation and moved to Brazzaville in 1919. There, the French government customs agency hired him as a clerk.
In 1922 he joined a French military unit and left Brazzaville for Paris. The matriculation badge 22 he received as a new recruit later became a common image employed by his followers. After receiving training in France, Matsoua participated in the Rif campaign in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco in 1925 ...
A renowned civil servant, soldier, and labor organizer, André Matsoua’s career continued even after his death. As a youth he studied to become a priest but resigned in 1919 to join the colonial customs service. He later traveled to France and joined the army, serving in North Africa during World War I. In 1926 he settled in Paris, where he became involved in labor-union organizing and founded Amicale, a self-help organization. Seeking recruits and financial contributions, the movement spread to the French Moyen-Congo, where the colonial administration, upset by Matsoua’s outspoken opposition to the discriminatory indigenant, or indigenous, classification of many Congolese, arrested him in 1929.
Although Matsoua was by then a legal French citizen an African traditional court in Brazzaville sentenced him to three years in prison and a decade in exile in Chad Six years later he escaped was soon caught escaped again and found his way ...
was born Thommaso Parentucelli in the Ligurian region of Italy, around Genoa in 1397. The son of an unknown physician, he received a classical education at the University of Bologna. He was a learned man who read the thousands of books in his extensive private libraries.
Although he was not a member of the Italian aristocracy, he used his intellect and diplomatic skills to navigate through the complex maze of Vatican politics, which culminated with his papacy in 1447. His reason for renown in the history of transatlantic slavery is that in 1455 he issued the papal bull Romanus pontifex giving Portugal the right to reduce West Africans to a status of perpetual slavery.
Pope Nicholas V came from a humble background and after his father died he left university to support himself He worked as a tutor for rich Italian families who brought teachers and professors into ...
politician, minister, activist, and writer. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1908. Powell's father, Adam Clayton Powell Sr. (1865–1953), was the minister of the famous Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York. In his autobiography Adam by Adam (1971), Powell states that his paternal grandmother, Sally, was part Cherokee and part black and that she bore a son by a white slaveholder of German descent. A former slave named Dunn took them in and raised Adam Clayton Powell Sr.
Powell Sr was actively involved in the struggle against racism he was a proponent of racial pride built on a foundation of education and hard work and he believed that the church should be a pillar of the community beliefs that he passed on to his son Adam Clayton Powell Jr recounts childhood memories of sitting on ...
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 ...
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and grew up in Harlem, New York, where his father was the minister of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, one of the largest congregations in the nation. After a poor academic performance at the City College of New York, Powell attended Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. Light-skinned enough to pass as white, he did so. Upon learning that Powell was black, both the white students among whom Powell had tried to live and the black students whose ethnicity he had rejected were angered.
After graduation, Powell helped in his father's church and briefly attended Union Theological Seminary. He went on to earn a master's degree in religious education from Columbia University and continued to assist his father until 1937, when Adam Clayton Powell retired and Adam Jr became pastor of Abyssinian During this time Powell maintained ...
Hiram Revels, the son of former slaves, was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He studied at several seminaries in Indiana and Ohio before becoming a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). During the American Civil War Revels helped to organize African American regiments in Maryland and ...
Kenneth H. Williams
clergyman, educator, and first African American senator, was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the son of free parents of mixed blood. Little is known of his family or early years. At eight or nine he enrolled in a private school for black children, where he was “fully and successfully instructed by our able teacher in all branches of learning.” About 1842 his family moved to Lincolnton, North Carolina, where Revels became a barber. Two years later he entered Beech Grove Seminary, a Quaker institution two miles south of Liberty, Indiana. In 1845 he enrolled at another seminary in Darke County, Ohio, and during this period may also have studied theology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Revels's preaching career with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church began at this time. He was ordained as a minister in the Indiana Conference at some point between 1845 and 1847 ...
Steven J. Niven
minister, magistrate, and diplomat, was born Owen Lun West Smith in Giddensville, Sampson County, North Carolina, the son of Ollen Smith and Maria (Hicks), both slaves. Although Owen was only ten years old when the Civil War broke out in 1861, he served for part of the war as the personal servant of a Confederate officer, most likely his owner or a son of his owner. Several accounts suggest that Smith was present at the Battle of Bentonville in North Carolina near the war's end in March 1865. Some of these accounts insist that he was still a body servant for a Confederate soldier. Others claim that that by the age of thirteen, in 1864 Smith like many eastern North Carolina slaves and some buffaloes poor whites hostile to the area s wealthy and all powerful slave owners had fled the Confederate lines to ...