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Hilary Jones

missionary, parish priest, and religious educator, was born in Senegal on 16 April 1814, the same day that Napoleon Bonaparte left France for exile on the Island of Elba. Two years later Britain ended its occupation of Senegal and returned the fortified island territories of Gorée and Saint-Louis to France. The island of Saint-Louis du Sénégal, founded by France in 1659 as a strategic site in the period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, gained a reputation as a cosmopolitan Atlantic port city shaped by patterns of intermarriage between African women (Signares) and European administrators, merchants, and soldiers. The son of Marie Monté, a “free mulâtresse,” and Pierre Boilat, member of the merchant marines, David Boilat came from the small but growing class of mixed race inhabitants who closely identified with the Catholic Church and sought the privileges of French education despite their relative isolation from French culture.

In 1816 ...

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Edison Carneiro was born and lived in Brazil's northeastern state of Bahia. Unlike many mestiços (people of indigenous and European descent) from his generation who denied their African origins, Carneiro dedicated his studies to the customs and traditions of the descendants of Africans in Brazil, particularly regarding religious ritual. This was pioneering work at the time, when African religions were still repressed by the Brazilian government. Carneiro is considered to be the first person to systematically record the practices, beliefs, and history of the Afro-Brazilian people. Among the rituals developed by Afro-Brazilians, Carneiro identified the Nagô rituals as the only authentic variant of the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé, as opposed to the Bantu rituals. In his search for the pure African religion, he considered the Bantu sect to be a degenerated form of African religion.

Carneiro combined his studies with a strong political activism He participated in the ...

Article

Sterling Stuckey

folklorist and minister, was born in Society Hill, South Carolina, the son of Laurence Faulkner, a merchant and postmaster, and Hannah Josephine Doby, a midwife. The decade of his birth and earliest development was one of violent repression of blacks across the South, during which the Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson, propounded its “separate but equal” doctrine. The fact that both parents were enterprising contributed to a sense of security in William despite the brutal reality of night riders and Klansmen roaming the countryside. In addition, religion was a shield against hardship and a source of hope in his life. Raised in a Christian household, by age six he had taken John the Baptist as his hero.

By age nine, with the migration to Society Hill of the former slave and storyteller Simon Brown Faulkner was exposed to the artistic and spiritual qualities of ...

Article

Ruth Graham Siegrist

missionary, educator, social worker, and author was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the third child of the Rev. David Andrew Graham, a Methodist minister, and Etta Bell Graham. His father's pastorates took the family from New Orleans to Detroit, Indianapolis, Chicago, Nashville, Colorado Springs, and Spokane. Graham attended the University of Washington and the University of California at Los Angeles.

While a student at UCLA, Graham learned about the need for missionary teachers in Liberia, West Africa, and felt he was called there to serve. He left for Liberia in 1924 to teach at Monrovia College, a Christian boys' school.

Going to Africa changed Graham s life He realized he had gone with a false concept of what African people were like He decried the fact that all he had read or seen had described Africans in stereotypical terms as savages at best stupid and ...

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Ervin Dyer

professor of religion and culture, was born Charles Eric Lincoln in Athens, Alabama. Lincoln never knew his father, and his mother, Bradonia Lincoln, left the family when he was just four years old. Until late in his life Lincoln was removed from his immediate family, which grew to include six half brothers and sisters. Lincoln was reared instead by his maternal grandmother, “Miss Matt,” and grandfather, Less Lincoln, on their farm. They were poor, and a nine-year-old C. Eric was forced to take a job walking nearly three miles every morning as a delivery boy for a dairy farmer for thirty five cents a week At a time when most black children in rural Alabama dropped out of school by the sixth grade Lincoln was able to enroll in Trinity School a private missionary academy He was a bright student who finished high school in ...

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Jeremy Rich

Congolese religious leader and politician, was born into a Kikongo-speaking family in the late 1940s. In 1969 while studying chemistry at the University of Lovanium in Kinshasa Zaire present day Democratic Republic of the Congo DRC Nsemi claimed he heard God speak to him He had decided to fast for a month to prepare himself for an encounter with spiritual forces in order to find a way to rescue people of African descent from oppression and misery God said to the young student In order to give a new revelation to Africa for a new time I sent the Kikongo speaking religious leader Simon Kimbangu However he did not finish his mission You are the one I choose to perfect Kimbangu s work because it has left the correct path The Kongo religion will be the soul of the Black African renaissance Nsemi who claimed to never have had ...

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Jeremy Rich

Gabonese Roman Catholic priest and scholar, was born on 19 June 1871 in Libreville in present-day Gabon to Robert Bruce Napoleon Walker and Agnourogoulé Ikoutou. Ikoutou was a female Mpongwe entrepreneur. R. B. N. Walker was an English resident of Gabon. Raponda Walker’s father, an amateur scholar and trader, took him to England for several years in the mid-1870s. After the boy returned to Libreville by 1877, his Mpongwe mother raised him. He had already learned some English, French, and Omyènè, the dominant language of the Gabonese coast and the commercial lingua franca of the entire colony, before the age of ten. Raponda Walker was so inspired by his Catholic missionary teachers that he chose in 1886 to enter the seminary and to become ordained His mother opposed his decision to become a priest on the grounds he would not be able to form his own family Although ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

missionary and philosopher, was born Frans Tempels on 18 February 1906 in Berlaar, a town located in the Anvers province of Belgium. After completing his primary and secondary education in Belgium, Tempels decided to become a priest. He began his seminary training at Thielt, Belgium, with the Catholic order of the Franciscan Minor Friars on 17 September 1924, and was ordained a priest on 15 August 1930. For three years he served as a priest in Belgium, but then was assigned to work as a missionary in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then the Belgian Congo). On 3 November 1933 Tempels left for a three week voyage to Diolo a town in the diocese of Kamina located in the southern province of Katanga He initially expected the Congolese people to obey listen and stay quiet Despite his thoroughly ethnocentric views at the beginning of his missionary ...

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Akilah S. Nosakhere

sociologist, bibliographer, minister, teacher, writer, and human rights activist. Monroe Nathan Work was born in Iredell County, North Carolina, to the former slaves Alexander Work and Eliza Hobbs Work. In 1876 the family's search for land led them to Kansas, where Alexander Work secured a 160-acre homestead in Sumner County. Monroe Work's commitment to the family farm and to his elderly parents delayed completion of his high school education until he was twenty-three years old. After the death of his mother in 1889 and the relocation of his invalid father to the home of a sibling Work set out to finish his education Discouraged by economic struggles and his advanced age he tried to quit school However the superintendent noting Work s strong intellectual and mathematical abilities convinced him to continue Upon Work s graduation the superintendent provided him with letters of recommendation to ...

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Wanda F. Fernandopulle

Georgia to Lydia Elizabeth Howard Wright and to Richard Wright Sr., an educational advocate who progressed as a child born into slavery and challenged the status quo. Both parents attended Atlanta University. Richard Robert Wright Jr. attended and excelled academically at the Storrs School for children. Thereafter, Wright led a life committed to helping others and producing writings such as Encyclopedia of African Methodism, Mission Study Courses Nos. 1 and 2, The Negro in Pennsylvania, The Negro Problem: a Sociological Treatment, The Teachings of Jesus, Church Financing, Handbook of the A.M.E. Church, What the Negro Gives to his Church, and Wilberforce and Negro Migration to the North.

In 1892 where Richard Robert Wright Sr. served as president, young Richard Robert Wright Jr. enrolled in Georgia State College. In 1898 Wright graduated from Georgia State College and immediately entered the Seminary School at the University of Chicago Wright completed ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

exhorter, sociologist, banker, and bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, was born in Cuthbert, Georgia, the son of Richard Robert Wright Sr., an educator and banker, and Lydia Elizabeth Howard Wright. He had a brother, Emmanuel, and sisters, Edwina MaBelle, a schoolteacher, and Julia.

Wright attended public schools and the Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in Augusta, founded in 1886 by Lucy Craft Laney, often considered Georgia's most famous African American woman educator. In 1898 he was the first graduate of Georgia State Industrial College, where his father was the first president. After graduating with an A.B. degree, he served briefly as a paymaster's clerk in the Spanish-American War, began graduate study at the University of Chicago, and was licensed to preach by the AME church in 1899. In 1900 he was ordained an AME minister and worked as an enumerator for ...