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Edward W. Rodman

Episcopal bishop, was born John Melville Burgess in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the second son of Theodore Thomas Burgess, a train porter, and Ethel Inez Beverly, a kindergarten schoolteacher. He attended the public elementary school and Central High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In his boyhood he worked as a newsboy, took piano lessons, and was an acolyte at St. Phillip's Episcopal Church. In his teenage years he worked for a construction company, and while attending the University of Michigan he supported himself as a waiter and dishwasher. He graduated with a degree in Sociology in 1930.

Bishop Burgess was one of the first black graduates of the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where, in 1934, he received his Master of Divinity degree. In 1938 he was called to St Simon Cyrene Episcopal Church in Lincoln Heights Ohio At an Episcopal Church Conference for Colored ...

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Michael J. Beary

the first African American Episcopal bishop elected to serve in the United States, was born Edward Thomas Demby V and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, the eldest child of freeborn parents, Edward T. Demby IV and Mary Anderson Tippett. Young Edward was tutored by his uncle, “Professor” Eddy Anderson, for the majority of his primary and secondary school years. Anderson was the headmaster of a private high school located behind Ezion (Northern) Methodist Episcopal Church, a hub of Wilmington's black community.

After leaving Wilmington, Demby embarked on an educational odyssey that encompassed Philadelphia's prestigious Institute for Colored Youth, followed by Centenary Bible Institute (now Morgan State University) in Baltimore, Howard University in Washington, D.C., Wilberforce University in Ohio, and National University in Chicago. He usually taught in some capacity to support himself through college and operated more than one private academy in the course of his studies. By 1894 ...

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Edward W. Rodman

Episcopal bishop, was born Walter Decoster Dennis in Washington, D.C., the son of Walter Decoster Dennis and Helen Louise (maiden name unknown). At an early age the Dennises moved to Petersburg, Virginia, where Walter attended the segregated public schools.

Bishop Dennis began his career at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine as a curate following his graduation from General Theological Seminary in New York City. During his first tenure at the Cathedral, the then Reverend Dennis was noted for his conferences on civil rights, concern for the urban communities of New York City, and his keen interest in constitutional law and history. During this period he became friendly with Thurgood Marshall, at that time a civil rights attorney and a champion of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954; then, during his second tenure, he provided the eulogy at Supreme Court Justice Marshall ...

Article

Nan Peete

Episcopal bishop, was born Barbara Clementine Harris in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the middle child of Walter Harris, a steelworker, and Beatrice Price, who worked as a program officer for the Boys and Girls Club of Philadelphia and later for the Bureau of Vital Statistics for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Barbara was born the day after St. Barnabas Day, and her family attended St. Barnabas Church; hence they named her Barbara.

Harris graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Girls in 1948 and then attended the Charles Morris Price School of Advertising and Journalism. Upon completion of the program, she began a twenty-year career as a public relations consultant for Joseph V. Baker Associates, a black-owned national public relations firm headquartered in Philadelphia, eventually becoming president of the company. While in this office, she entered into a brief marriage, which ended in divorce. In 1968 Sun Oil recruited ...

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Dawne Y. Curry

Barbara Clementine Harris was born in Philadelphia and spent her formative years receiving her religious education at Saint Barnabas Church. While attending the Philadelphia High School for Girls, Harris established a young adults group at Saint Barnabas. The organization quickly became the largest youth group in the city.

After graduating from high school in 1948, Harris took a position with Joe V. Baker and Associates, a black-owned public relations firm. Her responsibilities included editing a publication that promoted historically black colleges representing white companies in predominantly black communities. She performed her duties so effectively that, after ten years of employment, she became president of the firm, a position she enjoyed until 1968, when she assumed the head position of Sun Oil Company’s community relations department.

Although Harris achieved career success she continued her activism within the church She participated in the Dismas Society a group formed to visit ...

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Roanne Edwards

On September 24, 1988, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts elected Barbara Clementine Harris as a suffragan (assistant) bishop to senior prelate David E. Johnson. Her election was a momentous and controversial event in the Episcopal Church. It departed from the traditional conception of apostolic succession—practiced by the Roman Catholic Church for nearly 2,000 years as well as by the Anglican and Orthodox churches—in which bishops, because they are understood to be successors to Christ's original twelve disciples, must be male.

Yet Harris s groundbreaking role in the church went well beyond gender An African American in a predominantly white church she openly criticized church practices she believed to be contrary to social and economic justice She was a bold advocate for the rights of women including the right to choose abortion gay men and lesbians people of color and other marginalized groups She also had fifteen years experience ...

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David M. Dean

black emigrationist, missionary, and bishop, was born free in Washington, D.C., the son of James Overton Holly, a bootmaker, and Jane (maiden name unknown). At fourteen he and his family moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he worked with his father. By 1848, while clerking for Lewis Tappan, an abolitionist, Holly became interested in the antislavery movement. In 1850 he and his brother Joseph set up as “fashionable bootmakers” in Burlington, Vermont, where both became involved with the growing debate over black emigration. James supported the American Colonization Society and Liberia, while Joseph believed that freed slaves should not have to leave the United States.

In 1851 Holly married Charlotte Ann Gordon (with whom he would to have five children) and moved to Windsor, Canada West (now Ontario), to coedit Henry Bibb's newspaper Voice of the Fugitive During his three years in ...

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David M. Dean

James Theodore Holly was born free in Washington, D.C., the son of James Overton Holly, a bootmaker, and Jane (maiden name unknown). At fourteen he and his family moved to Brooklyn, where he worked with his father. By 1848, while clerking for Lewis Tappan, an abolitionist, Holly became interested in the antislavery movement. In 1850 he and his brother Joseph set up as “fashionable bootmakers” in Burlington, Vermont, where both became involved with the growing debate over black emigration. James supported the American Colonization Society and Liberia, while Joseph believed that freed slaves should not have to leave the United States.

In 1851 Holly married Charlotte Ann Gordon (with whom he was to have five children) and moved to Windsor, Canada West (now Ontario), to coedit Henry Bibb's newspaper Voice of the Fugitive During his three years in the Windsor Detroit area Holly ...

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Paul Mugane

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of the best-known spokespersons for human rights and peace around the world, recognized not only for his prominent role in the anti-apartheid campaign in South Africa but also for his unwavering commitment to justice and liberty as essential human values. Because of his activities and writings, he has been called the voice of conscience in our times.

Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born on 7 October 1931 in Klerksdorp, Transvaal, South Africa. His father was a primary school principal and his mother worked as a cook and a cleaner at a school for the blind. He earned a teaching diploma in 1954 from Pretoria Bantu Normal College and later completed a BA degree from the University of South Africa UNISA Very early in his days as a teacher he demonstrated his leanings toward justice equality and fairness an acute moral conscience and the courage to ...

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Kate Tuttle

An outspoken critic of South Africa’s Apartheid system, Desmond Tutu became one of his country’s most prominent symbols of resistance and hope, along with Nelson Mandela. Born in Klerksdorp, South Africa, Tutu was raised in the Transvaal region. The son of a schoolteacher father, he walked miles each day to overcrowded and under-equipped schools. The family was better off than most, however, and Tutu has described his childhood as happy. An attack of tuberculosis at age fourteen kept Tutu out of school for nearly two years. While recuperating, he met Father Trevor Huddleston, a white Anglican priest known for his opposition to apartheid. Under Huddleston’s influence, Tutu first became interested in the church, an interest that complemented his plans to become a teacher. In 1954 he graduated from Bantu Normal College outside Pretoria and was certified as a teacher Tutu cut short his teaching career after ...

Article

Chris Saunders

South African cleric, antiapartheid activist, and Nobel Peace laureate, was born in Klerksdorp in what is now Gauteng on 7 October 1931. His father, a teacher, moved the family to various places west of Johannesburg as Desmond grew up. When he attended Western Native Township High School, he lived with the Community of the Resurrection in Sophiatown in Johannesburg. There he came under the influence of Father Trevor Huddleston, especially when as a teenager he was hospitalized for a long time with tuberculosis. He went on to obtain a teaching diploma and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Africa, but after working as a schoolteacher for three years he decided that he wanted to be a priest and therefore enrolled at St. Peter’s Theological College. He was ordained a deacon in the Anglican Church in 1960 and became a priest the following year His ...