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Sherrow O. Pinder

clergyman, army chaplain, and physician, was born a slave in Seguin, Texas. Little is known about his parents except that his mother was a slave, and during the Civil War she and William fled to Galveston, Texas. As a young boy, he joined the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, which took on both local and national responsibility for the religious, intellectual, and social uplift of African Americans, often taking a leading role in promoting both secular and religious education. The AME Church, in fact, sponsored Anderson's education for three years at Wilberforce University in Ohio. The remainder of Anderson's education was financed by an Ohio sponsor, Stephen Watson, who was then the vice president of the London Exchange Bank of Madison County. In 1886 Anderson received a theology certificate from Howard University and two years later graduated from the Homeopathic Medical College of Cleveland Much ...


William C. Hine

Richard Harvey Cain was born to free parents in Greenbriar County, Virginia (now West Virginia). In 1831 his family moved to Gallipolis, Ohio. Cain was educated at local schools and worked on an Ohio River steamboat before being licensed to preach in the Methodist Episcopal church in 1844. Complaining of racial discrimination in the church, he resigned and joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Assigned a pulpit in Muscatine, Iowa, he was ordained a deacon in 1859. He returned to Ohio and in 1860 attended Wilberforce University. From 1861 to 1865 he served as pastor at Bridge Street Church in Brooklyn, New York, and was elevated to elder in 1862. He participated in the 1864 national black convention in Syracuse, New York, which advocated abolition, equality before the law, and universal manhood suffrage. He married Laura (maiden name unknown), and they adopted a daughter.

In ...


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 ...


Dickson D. Jr. Bruce

Born in Michigan, James D. Corrothers was raised in the predominantly white community of South Haven by his paternal grandfather, a man of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish ancestry. He moved to Muskegon at age fourteen, supporting himself and his grandfather. Shortly thereafter he moved to Indiana, then to Springfield, Ohio, working as a laborer. There, in his teens, he began his literary career, publishing a poem, “The Deserted School House”, in the local newspaper.

Corrothers's literary career received a boost when, at eighteen, he relocated to Chicago. Working in a white barber shop, he met journalist-reformer Henry Demarest Lloyd and showed him some poems. Lloyd arranged for their publication in the Chicago Tribune, getting Corrothers a custodial job in the Tribune offices Corrothers was soon asked to do an article on Chicago s African American elite He was chagrined when the story appeared rewritten by a white reporter ...


William C. Fischer

Corrothers, James David (02 July 1869–12 February 1917), journalist, poet, and clergyman, was born in Chain Lake Settlement, Cass County, Michigan, a colony first settled by fugitive slaves in the 1840s. His parents were James Richard Carruthers (spelling later changed by Corrothers), a black soldier in the Union army, and Maggie Churchman, of French and Madagascan descent, who died when Corrothers was born. Corrothers was legally adopted by his nonblack paternal grandfather, a pious and respected man of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish origins, who raised young Corrothers in relative poverty. They lived in several roughneck towns along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, where Corrothers attended school and became aware of racial hostility. In his boyhood family members introduced him to a rich vein of African-American folk tales that he would later draw upon for a number of his dialect sketches.

Working in his teens variously as a ...


Alexis Cepeda Maule

minister and politician, served thirty-six years (1943 to 1979) in the Illinois State House of Representatives for the 22nd District and acted as associate pastor at Chicago's Quinn African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Corneal was born on a farm near Vicksburg, Mississippi, to a white landowner and an African American former slave named Pearl Darden. After attending primary school at Sisters of the Holy Ghost, a Roman Catholic School, Davis graduated from Magnolia Public High School. At Magnolia there had been one teacher who taught all the subjects.

Davis attended Tougaloo College, a historically black institution near Jackson, Mississippi. Established in 1869 by the Home Missionary Society of the Disciples of Christ Tougaloo offered a first class liberal education to African Americans At Tougaloo he read the newspaper almost every day and participated in the debate society which would help his oratory skills in his later ...


Alice Bernstein

minister, schoolteacher, and civil rights leader, was born in Manning, Clarendon County, South Carolina, the seventh of thirteen children of Tisbia Gamble DeLaine and Henry Charles DeLaine, a pastor at Liberty Hill African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

The family owned farmland, which they worked to keep food on the table, and the children walked miles to a rundown segregated school. When he was fourteen, while walking to school, DeLaine shoved a white boy who had accosted his sister. After this incident was reported to his school's principal, DeLaine ran away to escape punishment of twenty-five lashes, which a school authority was compelled to administer. He spent four years in Georgia and Michigan working as a laborer and attending night school, returning to Manning in 1916. DeLaine worked his way through college and in 1931 earned a BA from Allen University in Columbia South Caroliana where ...


Stephen W. Angell

Jordan Winston Early was born a slave in Franklin County, Virginia. His mother died when he was three years old, and he was raised by an elderly woman, known as Aunt Milly, who cared for the plantation's slave children while their mothers worked. She was a devout Christian, and Early later attributed the fact that he became a “useful and intelligent” man to her influence. Early attended many camp meetings in his boyhood, and he later recalled that he was religiously inclined from an early age. He loved nature and often hunted at night with a favorite uncle.

In 1826 Early moved with the Early family to St. Louis. In his new home, he frequently visited churches and listened closely to the white ministers' sermons. A sermon by a Methodist minister named Barger soon led to his conversion; “My conviction was deep and powerful,” related Early. In 1828 ...


Lisa Clayton Robinson

The daughter of former slaves, Julia Foote attended a segregated white Methodist church with her family during her childhood in Schenectady, New York. When she was a teenager her family moved to Albany, New York, and joined the local African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). Foote had a conversion experience in that church in 1838.

The next year she married George Foote and moved with him to Boston. Before her conversion, Foote had agreed with the conventional opinion that women should not preach. But after her arrival in Boston, she felt the call to preach and pray in public. Despite the disapproval of her parents, husband, and minister, and the threat of excommunication from her church, Foote began a career as an evangelist. During the next four decades, Foote traveled and preached throughout New England and the mid-Atlantic states, and as far away as Detroit, Michigan San Francisco ...


Sandra Kelman

community activist, city councilwoman, and ordained minister, was born Beatrice Frankie Fowler in Wake Forest, North Carolina, to Maude Fowler, a domestic worker, and to a father who left when she was a toddler. In a 1989Baltimore Sun Magazine article, Gaddy recalled “many days” that she and her four siblings (Mottie Fowler, Pete Young, Tony Fowler, and Mabel Beasly) “didn't eat because when my mother didn't work and couldn't bring home leftover food, there was nothing to eat. And, even when there was food, if my stepfather had been drinking, he'd come home and throw our plates out in the back yard or through the window.” A high school dropout, Gaddy was divorced twice by her early twenties. As a single mother, she struggled for years to make a living for herself and her children (Cynthia, Sandra, John, Michael, and Pamela ...


Judith Weisenfeld

actor, singer, and minister, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Charles Haynes, a bricklayer, and Mary (“Mollie”) Leech, an office cleaner. Haynes was educated in the Atlanta public schools and graduated from the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church–affiliated Morris Brown College.

Haynes worked as a porter in Atlanta and as an itinerant preacher before securing a job in the records division at the Standard Life Insurance Company in Atlanta around 1915. Founded by Heman Edward Perry in 1913, Standard was one of the nation's few black life insurance companies, and Haynes gained valuable business experience working with one of the most active black entrepreneurs in America. While at Standard, he also met Harry Herbert Pace, the company's secretary-treasurer, with whom he would later work in New York. Haynes registered for the draft in 1917 and according to one source ...


Michele Valerie Ronnick

pastor, Latinist, linguist, Reformation scholar, and college president, was born in Urbana, Ohio. He was one of seven children born to David Leander and Karen Andrews Hill. Hill's father was the first African American police officer in Urbana. His mother was a housewife who was active in the community and a devoted member of the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church. The church, founded in 1824, held an important place in the African American community. For the young man, the church provided not only spiritual guidance but his Bible studies also provided him a rich source of intellectual stimulation.

In 1924 Hill matriculated at Wittenberg University which was founded under the auspices of the Lutheran church and located in Springfield, Ohio. He graduated with honors in 1928 Interested in religion he entered Hamma Divinity School now located in Columbus Ohio and sharpened his skills in Greek Latin ...


Frank N. Schubert

George W. Prioleau was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to L. S. and Susan Prioleau, who were slaves. He graduated from Claflin College, Orangeburg, South Carolina, in 1875, and taught in the public primary schools of Lyons Township, Orangeburg County. In 1879 he joined the Columbia, South Carolina, Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), of which his father was a pastor at St. Mathews, just north of Orangeburg. His first pastorate was at Double Springs Mission, Laurens County. In 1880 the Columbia Conference sent him to Wilberforce University in Ohio, where he enrolled in the Theological Department. After his 1884 graduation, Prioleau served churches in Hamilton and Troy, Ohio. In 1888 he was appointed professor of theology and homiletics at Wilberforce. After the Theological Department became Payne Theological Seminary, he occupied the chair of historical and pastoral theology (1890–1894). In 1890 he ...


Robert Fay

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 ...


Katie McCabe

lawyer, minister, Army veteran, and activist, was born Dovey Mae Johnson in Charlotte, North Carolina, the second oldest of four daughters of James Eliot Johnson, an AME Church printer, and Lela Bryant Johnson, a seamstress and domestic servant. The primary formative influence of Roundtree's childhood was her maternal grandmother, Rachel Bryant Graham, who took the family to live with her and her husband, the Rev. Clyde Graham, an AME Church minister, after the death of Roundtree's father in the 1919 influenza epidemic. While Roundtree's burning academic ambition derived largely from her mother and her grandfather, who refused to see the family's poverty as an obstacle to the children's educational advancement, her “Grandma Rachel's courage and sense of justice shaped Roundtree spiritually A woman with only a third grade education Rachel Graham was nevertheless an influential and highly respected figure in the ...


Sandy Dwayne Martin

ordained Methodist elder, minister, and denominational leader, was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the daughter of Agnes Blair and an unknown father. It is possible that she attented Baltimore Catholic school operated by the black order the Oblate Sisters of Providence. Little information is available regarding her early life and after 1916. The years 1873 to 1916, nonetheless, witnessed significant contributions by this pioneering clergywoman. Small did not, however, embrace church membership until three days after she wed the Reverend John Bryan Small, a future bishop, in October 1873. As a minister's wife, she labored in parishes of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia.

Women in most Christian churches during the later 1800s and the early 1900s had difficulty finding acceptance as practicing ministers Indeed many women effectively preached without seeking ordination or ...


William L. Andrews

T. G. Steward was born in 1843 in Gould-town, Pennsylvania, one of the oldest African American settlements in the state. Little is known of his early life. Ordained a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in 1864, he moved to Charleston, South Carolina, immediately after the end of the Civil War to teach and preach among the freed people. His political activities in the late 1860s in Georgia, in particular his published call for federal troops to counteract the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, brought threats on his life. He moved back to the North in 1871, resuming his preaching career in Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware, and recording his controversial experience in the South in My First Four Years in the Itinerancy of the African M. E. Church (1876 In the 1870s Steward helped lead protests against inadequate funding for African American Schools ...


Aaron Myers

Although Theophilus Steward had only a grammar school education, his interest in history and literature was nurtured by his family's home instruction. His mother, Rebecca Steward, encouraged him to question ideas commonly accepted as the truth. With this background he began preaching in 1862 and the following year received a license from the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). Steward was one of the three people who accompanied Bishop Daniel Payne to South Carolina in 1865 to reestablish the AME church that had been banned there in 1822 as a result of the Denmark Vesey Conspiracy.

Steward continued to build churches and schools in South Carolina and Georgia through 1870, although his outspoken criticism of all-white juries in 1870 made him a controversial figure among his peers in the clergy. From 1870 to 1891 Steward served as the pastor of several churches along the east coast He ...


Clarence G. Contee

Born free in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of George Gilchrist and Anna (Morris) Stewart, McCants Stewart attended school in that city. He entered the academy at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1869, remaining there until 1873. He then entered the University of South Carolina and received his B.A. degree in 1875 as valedictorian and his LL.B. (bachelor of laws) degree in the same year. In that year he became a partner with Robert Brown Elliott and David Augustus Straker in their Charleston law firm. At the same time, he was professor of mathematics in the State Agricultural College, Orangeburg. According to his own account, he then studied theology and philosophy at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey.

Ordained a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) on October 13, 1877, he was pastor of Bethel AME Church in New York City ...


Joan R. Sherman

The “Poet Laureate of the Negro Race” was born to slave parents in Hart County, Kentucky. Although he lived in bondage for twelve years and had only one year of schooling, Albery Allson Whitman published five volumes of poetry, and both his art and his living gave substance to his motto: “Adversity is the school of heroism, endurance the majesty of man, and hope the torch of high aspirations.” Orphaned at the age of twelve, Whitman labored on the farm of his birth; then, from 1864 to 1870, in Ohio and Kentucky, he worked in a plough shop, in railroad construction, and as a schoolteacher. He briefly studied under Bishop Daniel A. Payne at Wilberforce University (1871) and later served as general financial agent of Wilberforce. Although never formally ordained, in 1877 Whitman was pastor of an AME church in Springfield, Ohio, and from 1879 ...