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Peter Wallenstein

educator and civil rights litigant, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of William Henry “Sonnie” Alston, a drayman, and Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Smith, a laundress. The Alstons owned their home, and Melvin grew up in a middle-class environment. After attending Norfolk's segregated black public schools and graduating from Booker T. Washington High School, he graduated in 1935 from Virginia State College, where he was honored for his debating and for excellence in scholarship. Following graduation he began teaching math at Booker T. Washington High School. Beginning in 1937 he served as president of the Norfolk Teachers Association, and he also held local leadership positions in the Young Men's Christian Association and the First Calvary Baptist Church.

Alston played a key role in an effort by black teachers in the Norfolk city public schools to challenge racial discrimination in their salaries. In 1937 the Virginia Teachers Association VTA and ...

Article

Sheila T. Gregory

radio and television pioneer, Masonic Christian Order founder, ordained Baptist minister, lawyer, community advocate, and business leader, was born on a sharecroppers' farm in Geneva, Kentucky, the son of Richard and Clara Banks, both tenant farmers. In June 1922 Banks graduated from the Lincoln Institute of Kentucky and moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he secured a job at the Dodge automobile main plant. He graduated from Wayne State University in 1926 and the Detroit College of Law in 1929. He briefly opened a criminal law practice, but after two years he discontinued his criminal work and invested in property during the Depression, while helping elect liberal Democrat and future Supreme Court justice Frank Murphy as Detroit's mayor in 1930.

In 1931 Banks was the head of the International Labor Defense League ILDL a legal organization known for defending numerous labor unions which at that time were ...

Article

Tunisian author, teacher, reformer, jurisconsult, was born in Tunis in March 1840. His mother was the daughter of Mahmoud Khouja, a minister of Ahmed Bey. His father, Mustapha Ben Mohamed Bayram Ath Thalith III, was a wealthy landowner and merchant from a family of scientists and administrators. When he died in Tunis in 1863, he left his son symbolic capital comprising precious documents, land, properties, funds, merchandise, and social contacts.

Bayram s education was centered both in the family s extensive library and in the rich Tunisian cultural milieu From an early age he studied the Qurʾan hadith and Arabic He studied with eminent professors from the Zeytouna University such as Bayram que Mustapha Bayram Ahmed Mohamed Mouaya Ben Tahar Mohamed Achour and others receiving excellent training in many subjects both Islamic and non Islamic His family was well placed in the social and intellectual circles of Tunis ...

Article

W. S. Tkweme

militant political activist and religious leader, was born Hubert Geroid Brown in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the youngest child and second son of Eddie C. Brown, a laborer for Esso Standard Oil, and Thelma Warren, a teacher. According to his own account, Brown was a rebel from the earliest days against the color biases of his community as well as the authoritarianism and Eurocentric curricula of the schools in Baton Rouge. He identified with youth street culture and its heroes, whose verbal and physical jousting he extolled in his 1970 memoir Die Nigger Die! His facility at signifying or “playing the dozens” earned Brown the “Rap” sobriquet that he was to carry throughout the first phase of his public career.Brown attended Southern University in Baton Rouge from 1961 to 1963 but dropped out to pursue his growing interest in the civil rights movement Following his brother Ed whose ...

Article

Jennifer Jensen Wallach

civil rights activist and religious leader. Hubert Gerold “H. Rap” Brown was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1943. He attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, studying sociology from 1960 to 1964. He then relocated to Washington, D.C., where he became chairman of the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG), a civil rights organization. During his brief tenure with the NAG, Brown attended a high-profile meeting with President Lyndon B. Johnson. Much to the chagrin of more moderate black leaders, Brown refused to show deference to the president, instead rebuking him for the state of American race relations.

In 1966 Brown joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), becoming director of the Alabama Project. In 1967 at the age of twenty three he was elected chairman of the organization Brown led SNCC in a transition away from the nonviolent philosophy of the early days of the civil ...

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Alonford James Robinson

Hubert Brown was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In 1962 he dropped out of Southern University to join the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG) at Howard University. In 1965 he became chairman of NAG. Labeled an extremist by the media for his nationalist views, Brown was an outspoken advocate of Black Power in the United States. In May 1967, when Stokely Carmichael stepped down, Brown was elected national chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

That same year, Brown was charged by the states of Maryland and Ohio with inciting violence. He was harassed by the police and targeted by the Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). While under indictment, Brown was arrested for transporting weapons across state lines. He resigned as SNCC chairman in 1968 Later that year he was sentenced to five years in prison on federal weapons charges ...

Article

Russell Duncan

abolitionist and Georgia politician, was born free in Middlebrook, New Jersey, the son of John Campbell, a blacksmith, and an unknown mother. From 1817 to 1830 he attended an otherwise all-white Episcopal school in Babylon, New York, where he trained to be a missionary to Liberia under the auspices of the American Colonization Society. Rebelling against his training and calling himself “a moral reformer and temperance lecturer,” Campbell moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey, converted to Methodism, joined an abolition society, and began to preach against slavery, colonization, alcohol, and prostitution. He joined Frederick Douglass on speaking tours and participated in the Colored Convention Movement, a new nationwide organization that aimed at racial uplift and black voting rights.

From 1832 to 1845 Campbell lived and worked in New York City as a steward at the Howard Hotel Later for an undetermined period he worked at the Adams House ...

Article

David Michel

minister and activist, was born to Archibald J. Carey Sr., a Methodist minister, and Elizabeth Davis Carey in Chicago, Illinois. He attended Doolittle Elementary School and graduated from Wendell Phillips High School in 1925. As a youth Carey exhibited strong speaking skills and won the Chicago Daily News Oratorical Contest in 1924. In his adolescent years he was much influenced by his father, a staunch Republican politician, who took him to a private meeting with President Theodore Roosevelt.

After high school the young Carey pursued his education at the local Lewis Institute, where he earned a BS in 1928. He married Hazel Harper Carey, with whom he had one daughter, Carolyn. In 1929 he was ordained by his father who had become a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal AME Church The following year Carey was assigned to the Woodlawn AME Church in ...

Article

Trevor Hall

who defended Native American rights and promoted African slavery, only to later condemn it, was born in Seville, Spain. His father, Pedro de Las Casas, had sailed to the Americas as a merchant on Christopher Columbus’s second voyage. He was educated in law at the University of Salamanca. Las Casas is renowned because he recommended that the Spanish king purchase enslaved Africans from Portuguese merchants and ship them from Portuguese colonies in West Africa directly to the Spanish Caribbean. In 1493 Las Casas was living in Seville, where he witnessed the arrival of Columbus following his maiden voyage to the Americas. Columbus brought a number of exotic, colorful tropical birds and a dozen half-naked Native Americans back with him. To fifteenth-century Spaniards, half-naked people were savages. The experience has a profound effect on the young Spaniard.

In 1502 Las Casas boarded an armada that sailed from Spain to Hispaniola ...

Article

Edward J. Robinson

evangelist, farmer, educator, postmaster, justice of the peace, and “race man,” was born Samuel in Prince William County, Virginia. Even though an oral tradition among Cassius's descendants insists that Robert E. Lee was his biological father, circumstantial evidence suggests that James W. F. Macrae, a white physician and politician and relative of Robert E. Lee, was probably his father and Jane, an enslaved African, was his mother (Robinson). After emancipation Cassius probably added the names “Robert” to commemorate Robert E. Lee's kindness of purchasing him and his mother to prevent them from being sold to the Deep South and he may have attached Cassius to honor the ancient Roman general as many slaves adopted names of famous people from classical antiquity Robinson Little is known about Samuel s mother a slave who served in the Macrae household While working for the Macrae family as a house servant ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

a minister who helped consolidate the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church in the postbellum South, was born Jesse B. Colbert in Cedar Creek township, Lancaster County, South Carolina, the son of farm laborers Tillman Colbert and Mariah House Colbert. Neither of his parents could read, but they made sure their children attended school (1870 and 1880 Census, Kentucky Death Certificate). Colbert attended county schools until the age of eighteen and then entered Lancaster High School, originally called the Pettey High School after its founder and principal, Rev. (later Bishop) Charles Calvin Pettey, pastor of the Lancaster Courthouse AMEZ church.

After teaching school himself in South Carolina, Colbert entered Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina, in January 1883, shortly after it was established by Dr. Joseph Charles Price, who served as president from 1882 to 1888. Bishop James Walker Hood recorded that Colbert ...

Article

Richard Saunders

lawyer and minister, was born James Frank Estes to Melvoid Estes and Bertha Lee Walker Estes in Jackson, Tennessee. Graduated from Lane College in 1942, Estes captained the football team and married a friend and classmate, Frances D. Berry. Enlisting in the Army the same year, he served on active duty in Europe and was one of the few African Americans accepted to Officer Candidate School. Estes was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1943 for the racially segregated 1317th Engineers General Service Regiment. The 1317th engaged in the Normandy landings on D-Day, as well as the Allied Forces Rhineland Campaign and battle for Central Europe. At his discharge in 1945 Estes remained in the reserves and enrolled at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which conferred on him an LL.B. degree in 1948 Returning to Tennessee Estes opened a law office on Beale Street the economic center ...

Article

Anthony A. Lee

Born in Charleston, South Carolina during the era of Reconstruction, Louis Gregory was the son of Ebenezer George and a freed slave who was the daughter of her master. Widowed when her son was five, Gregory's mother was later married George Gregory, whose surname her son adopted. Louis Gregory attended Avery Institute in Charleston, graduating in 1891. He continued his studies at Fisk University, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1896. Gregory returned to Avery Institute as a teacher, but soon left teaching to study law at Howard University, graduating in 1902.

Gregory practiced law in Washington, D.C., until 1906, when he took a position in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In 1909, he accepted the Baha'i faith as a result of his friendship with a white couple, Joseph and Pauline Hannen who held interracial Baha i meetings in ...

Article

Angelita D. Reyes

public lecturer, lawyer, and government administrator, was an early-twentieth-century champion or “race amity worker” for racial equality and social justice in America. A direct descendant of slavery, Louis George Gregory was born in Charleston, South Carolina. His mother, Mary Elizabeth, and his grandmother, Mary Bacot, had been enslaved on the George Washington Dargan plantation in Darlington, South Carolina. Louis Gregory stated that “my grandmother, wholly of African blood was without ceremony [Dargan's] slave [mistress] and my mother, his daughter” (Morrison, 12).

At an early age Gregory experienced racial oppression, poverty, and segregation. Gregory's father, Ebenezer George, died of tuberculosis in 1879, leaving Mary Elizabeth and her two sons, Louis and Theodore, in severe poverty. In 1885 Gregory s mother married George Gregory who became a devoted stepfather to Louis and his brother It is because of the older Gregory s support ...

Article

North African Islamic theologian and jurist, was born in the city of al-Qayrawan to an Arab family with origins in the Hadramawt region of southern Arabia. His nisba al-Muradi further suggests a lineage among the Madhij Bedouin of Maʾrib in the Yemen. Al-Hadrami received his early education in al-Qayrawan, where he was able to study with a number of luminaries, including the influential jurist Abu ʿImran al-Fasi (d. 1039). He quickly drew the notice of his teachers for his formidable intellect and impressive command of the Arabic language. Al-Hadrami subsequently departed al-Qayrawan, possibly prompted by the Bedouin invasions of the mid-eleventh century, and took up residence in the Moroccan city of Aghmat, southeast of Marrakech. Here, he embarked on a career teaching the Islamic sciences, and he is known to have produced at least one student of note, the theologian Abu al-Hajjaj Yusuf bin Musa al-Kalbi al-Darir (d. 1126).

It ...

Article

Graham Russell Hodges

Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to free but poor black parents, Hodges received no education in his early years and at the age of ten shipped out as a “waiting boy” on a schooner bound from Philadelphia to the West Indies. Over the next few years he visited many European ports. During the American Revolution a British warship forced his vessel into New York harbor; destitute, friendless, and illiterate, he wandered throughout the region before settling in Warwick, in Orange County, New York. His employer, a man named Jennings, had acquired much property through litigation, actions that prompted his legal victims to plot to kill him. The conspirators brought Hodges into the plot and took advantage of his intemperance, developed during his years as a seaman, to persuade him to perform the killing. On 21 December 1819 Hodges shot his master in the woods The bullet severely wounded Jennings ...

Article

Greg Sidberry

civil rights leader. Benjamin Hooks was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Robert B. Hooks Sr., a self-made businessman and co-owner of the Hooks Brothers’ Photography Studio, which closed in 1939 but reopened after the depression. His mother, Bessie White, was a stay-at-home mother of seven children. Despite the existence of institutionalized racism, Hooks's family expected him to excel without offering excuses. He learned to read at an early age and, before starting high school, had read all of the classics found in their small home library. Reading—especially newspapers—was the primary source of information and entertainment for the family. Dinnertime was family discussion time; each child had an opportunity to participate as current events and daily activities were reviewed and analyzed. Hooks says he heard repeatedly: “You got to be twice as good.”

Benjamin skipped the sixth and was promoted out of the seventh grade He started Booker T Washington High ...

Article

Benjamin Hooks, who was born in Memphis, Tennessee, graduated from Howard University in 1944 and received a law degree from DePaul University in 1948. He later worked as a public defender and a Baptist minister, serving from 1956 into the mid-1990s as a pastor of Memphis's Middle Baptist Church.

Through his legal and ministerial work Hooks became a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement and sat on the board of directors of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) from its founding in 1957 until 1977. In 1965 Hooks became the first African American to become a criminal court judge in Tennessee. He was also the first black to sit on the Federal Communications Commission.

In 1977 Hooks became executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as well as chairman of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights LCCR A nationally ...

Article

Seth Dowland

minister, judge, and executive director of the NAACP, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Robert Britton Hooks, a photographer, and Bessie White Hooks. He was the fifth of seven children. Hooks hailed from one of the most prominent African American families in Memphis; his grandmother Julia Britton Hooks was the first black to attend Berea College. At age sixteen Hooks enrolled at his father's alma mater, Le Moyne College in Memphis, but he was drafted and enlisted in the army before he could complete his degree. After serving from 1943 to 1946 in Italy, Hooks returned to the United States and enrolled at DePaul University Law School. He completed his law degree in 1948 and opened a private practice in Memphis, only the second African American to practice law in the city. Hooks married Frances Dancy, a childhood acquaintance, on 20 March 1951 ...

Article

Efraim Barak

Egyptian jurist, religious thinker, and second general guide (murshid ʿam) of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt, was born in December 1891 to a lower-class family in Arab al-Sawaliha, a village northwest of Cairo. After learning the Qurʾan in a local kuttab, he spent a year in one of al-Azhar’s religious elementary schools before transferring to a state school, from which he graduated in 1911. Hudaybi then enrolled in law school. Upon completing a five-year program, he began working at the law firm of Kamil Husayn and Hafiz Ramadan. In 1918, Hudaybi opened his own practice in Shibin al-Qanatir, a city near his village, before moving the office to Suhaj in Upper Egypt.

In 1925, Hudaybi was appointed a judge in Qina. Thereafter, he received postings in other provincial towns and was transferred to Cairo in 1933. By the late 1940s he had ...