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C. James Trotman

Presbyterian pastor, educator, and social reformer, was born in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, the son of Timothy Anderson and Mary Croog One of fourteen children he was raised in the comforts of a rural middle class home less than thirty miles from historic Gettysburg On a typical day of his youth Matthew faced both the physical demands of farm life and the movement back and forth between two cultures One dominated by commerce and materialism was uncharacteristically open to the Andersons who owned lumber mills and real estate at a time when most black Americans were dehumanized and disenfranchised by chattel slavery The other was a culture defined by close family ties and Presbyterian piety At home Matthew heard Bible stories and dramatic tales of runaway slaves indeed religious piety and the pursuit of racial freedom were dominant themes in his life These early experiences inspired Matthew so ...

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David B. Malone

Jonathan Blanchard would become an heir of the principles of the evangelical postmillennial Christianity exemplified in America's Benevolent Empire of the early 1800s, wherein activists sought to reform American society through education and religious missions. Blanchard was born the eleventh of fifteen children, near Rockingham, Vermont, to Polly Lovell and the farmer Jonathan Blanchard Sr. The young Jonathan was able to take advantage of a variety of educational opportunities, eventually graduating from Middlebury College, after which he enrolled in Andover Theological Seminary.

Blanchard left Andover in September 1836 because it failed to stand against slavery and became an abolitionist lecturer for the American Anti Slavery Society He was one of Theodore Dwight Weld s Seventy preaching the sin of slavery throughout Pennsylvania with the hopes that the consciences of slaveholders would be pierced over their treatment of those whom Blanchard echoing the words of Jesus lamented as the ...

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Wayne Sparkman

pastor, theologian, and churchman, was born in Selma, Alabama, the son of Wilbur McDonald Bottoms, a teacher, and Gussie Adolphus Shivers. While his mother's family had been Methodists, his father was a Reformed Presbyterian who graduated from Wilberforce College in Ohio and answered a call to teach at the Knox Academy in Selma. This school was operated by the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Selma, and it was upon taking this post that Wilbur Bottoms met and married Shivers. Lawrence was raised in a highly unusual situation, for neither the school nor the church was segregated. Whites who taught at the school also lived on the school property and attended the church as members alongside African American teachers and other members in the congregation. At times the church had a white pastor, and at other times the pastor was African American.

Lawrence continued his education in Pennsylvania first at ...

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Matthew Edson

Presbyterian minister, civil rights leader, and social, political, and religious activist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Barbadian immigrants Arthur and Eva Callender: a factory worker and a homemaker. In the 1930 and 1940 censuses the family lived on Pleasant Street in Cambridge Massachusetts and Callender s father worked as a laborer in a packing company Callender grew up in Cambridge and attended high school at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School from which he graduated second in his class Harvard University was his choice for college but when he applied for his scholarship he was rejected as the college had already admitted its quota for African Americans that year He went on to receive a bachelor of arts from Boston University where he played varsity basketball as a freshman He also earned a masters of divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary where he was the first African ...

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David B. McCarthy

Presbyterian minister, educator, and womanist ethicist, was born in Concord, North Carolina, the daughter of Corine Emmanuelette Lytle, a domestic and Avon saleswoman, and Esau Cannon, a millworker, both of whom were elders in the local Presbyterian church. Cannon grew up with three sisters, three brothers, her parents, and her extended family in the Fishertown community, a part of the rural, segregated town of Kannapolis, North Carolina, the home of Cannon Mills. Her earliest work was as a domestic, cleaning the homes of nearby white mill workers. At the age of seventeen Cannon graduated from George Washington Carver High School and then enrolled at nearby Barber-Scotia College, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1971 with a BS in Elementary Education.

In August 1971 Cannon enrolled in Johnson C Smith Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center ITC in Atlanta where Dean James H Costen encouraged her ...

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Although most blacks in North Carolina were enslaved at the time of John Chavis's birth, the Chavis family was legally free. This status allowed Chavis to pursue an education, which helped him overcome the social and political oppression that thwarted most blacks of his time. Chavis attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, graduating with high honors in 1801. His academic performance at Washington and Lee attracted much public attention because it contradicted the widespread belief that blacks were intellectually inferior to whites.

When he returned to North Carolina in 1808 Chavis founded a school for the children of white slave owners Chavis s school proved extremely successful and many of his students became highly influential citizens In addition to teaching white students Chavis taught the children of both enslaved and free blacks at night Chavis s commitment to the education of blacks greatly improved the social ...

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Theodore C. DeLaney

Presbyterian minister and teacher, was born in Granville County, North Carolina; the names of his parents are unknown. He grew up as a free black near Mecklenberg, Virginia. By his own account, Chavis was born free and was a Revolutionary War army veteran. Details of his military service and the events of his life immediately following the war are not known, but he began his studies for the Presbyterian ministry in 1792 at the age of twenty nine According to an apocryphal account one planter had a wager with another that it was impossible to educate a black man In order to settle their dispute they sent Chavis to the College of New Jersey now Princeton University More than likely Chavis s religious fervor and potential for scholarship attracted the attention of Presbyterian leaders in Virginia who believed a black clergyman might do a better job of evangelizing slaves ...

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Kathleen Thompson

John Chavis was born into a free African American family in Granville, North Carolina—a circumstance that alone made him historically unusual. He served, while a teenager, as a soldier in the Revolutionary War. Early accounts of his life state that he attended Princeton University, then known as the College of New Jersey. The historian Edgar W. Knight, in preparing a biography of Chavis in 1929, asked that institution to confirm his attendance. Princeton replied that although they had no actual records to verify that Chavis was a student, they believed that he had been and listed him as a nongraduate. Scholars now believe that Chavis was a private student of the college president, John Witherspoon, until that scholar's death in 1794. In 1795 Chavis began studies at Liberty Hall Academy later Washington Academy and then Washington and Lee University in Lexington Virginia Although this was ...

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Willard B. Gatewood

educator and clergyman, was born a slave in the District of Columbia. His mother was Laurena Browning Cook, but his father's identity is unknown. His mother's sister, Alethia Browning Tanner, was clearly a dominant influence in his early life. Although she was a slave, her owner allowed her to hire out her own time, and by operating a profitable vegetable market in Washington, D.C., she acquired the money to purchase her own freedom as well as that of her sister and about twenty-one other relatives and acquaintances, including her nephew. Freed at the age of sixteen, Cook apprenticed himself to a shoemaker in order to earn the money to repay his aunt.

He completed his apprenticeship in 1831 but abandoned shoemaking because of an injured shoulder. He secured a job as a messenger in the office of the United States Land Commissioner where a white employee, John Wilson ...

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Willard B. Gatewood

John Francis Cook was born a slave in the District of Columbia. His mother was Laurena Browning Cook, but his father's identity is unknown. His mother's sister, Alethia Browning Tanner, was clearly a dominant influence in his early life. Although she was a slave, her owner allowed her to hire out her own time, and by operating a profitable vegetable market in Washington, D.C., she acquired the money to purchase her own freedom as well as that of her sister and about twenty-one other relatives and acquaintances, including her nephew. Freed at the age of sixteen, Cook apprenticed himself to a shoemaker in order to earn the money to repay his aunt.

He completed his apprenticeship in 1831 but abandoned shoemaking because of an injured shoulder He secured a job as a messenger in the office of the United States Land Commissioner where a white ...

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Marilyn Demarest Button

Samuel E. Cornish's many antebellum social, religious, and political involvements aimed at ameliorating the condition of African Americans in the United States. Born in Sussex County, Delaware, Cornish was ordained in the New York Presbytery as an evangelist (1822) and served various churches intermittently until 1847. During his thirty-year public career, he was associated with over eighteen organizations for racial uplift, including four New York City newspapers: Freedom's Journal, the Rights of All, the Weekly Advocate, and the Colored American. In March 1827 he started Freedom's Journal, the first African American newspaper, to counter racist propaganda and provide a forum of communication among African Americans. After about six months Cornish left the journal in the hands of his coeditor, John Browne Russwurm, but resumed editorial responsibilities in March 1828 when Russwurm emigrated to Liberia, changing the paper's name in May 1829 ...

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Diane L. Barnes

Samuel Eli Cornish was born free in Sussex County, Delaware. At the age of twenty Cornish traveled to Philadelphia, where he trained for the ministry under John Gloucester, the founder of the First African Presbyterian Church, and was licensed on probationary status in 1819. After briefly working as a missionary among the enslaved population of Maryland's Eastern Shore, in 1821 Cornish settled in New York City, where he served as a missionary among black residents. Formally ordained in 1822, Cornish established the first African American Presbyterian congregation in New York, at the New Demeter Street Presbyterian Church. Two years later he married Jane Livingston, with whom he would have four children.

In 1827 Cornish became the founding editor of Freedom's Journal, the first newspaper in the United States edited by African Americans. Along with his coeditor, John Brown Russwurm, Cornish used Freedom's Journal to ...

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Graham Russell Hodges

Samuel Eli Cornish was born in Sussex County, Delaware, the son of free black parents. Cornish was educated after 1815 in Philadelphia, where he studied for the ministry with John Gloucester, pastor of the First African Presbyterian Church. During Gloucester's illness, Cornish served as minister to the church for a year. In this brief tenure Cornish learned much about the tenuous finances of black churches, knowledge that would serve him later. Cornish gained a probationary license to preach from the Presbyterian synod in 1819. He then spent six months as missionary to slaves on Maryland's Eastern Shore, where his license gave him greater credibility than most black preachers enjoyed. In 1821 he moved to New York City where he worked in the blighted ghetto around Bancker Street and organized the first black Presbyterian congregation in New York the New Demeter Street Presbyterian Church Ordained in ...

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Graham Russell Hodges

clergyman and newspaper editor, was born in Sussex County, Delaware, the son of free black parents. Cornish was educated after 1815 in Philadelphia, where he studied for the ministry with John Gloucester, pastor of the First African Presbyterian Church. During Gloucester's illness, Cornish served as minister to the church for a year. In this brief tenure Cornish learned much about the tenuous finances of black churches, knowledge that would serve him later. Cornish gained a probationary license to preach from the Presbyterian synod in 1819. He then spent six months as missionary to slaves on Maryland's Eastern Shore, where his license gave him greater credibility than most black preachers enjoyed. In 1821 he moved to New York City where he worked in the blighted Lower East Side ghetto around Bancker Street and organized the first black Presbyterian congregation in New York the New Demeter Street Presbyterian Church ...

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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 ...

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William C. Fischer

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 (the spelling was 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 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. When he was just a boy 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 sawmill hand hotel menial coachman ...

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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 ...

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David B. McCarthy

Presbyterian pastor and educator, was born in Omaha, Nebraska, one of three children born to Baptist parents Mary Lou Brookings Costen, a homemaker, and William Theodore Costen, a railroad worker. At the encouragement of his dying father, who was impressed with the personal discipline instilled by Costen's Catholic school education, Costen was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church at the age of seven. Costen attended Catholic elementary and junior high schools, and he considered the priesthood. When Costen was sixteen, however, a Presbyterian congregation moved to temporary quarters across the street from the Costen house, and its pastor, the Reverend Charles Tyler, began to exert a strong influence on him. Costen joined the Presbyterian Church and began to think about a calling as a Presbyterian pastor.

When Costen graduated from Omaha's Central High School in 1949 a high school counselor suggested that he apply for a ...

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David B. McCarthy

musician, educator, and prominent Presbyterian, was born Melva Ruby Wilson in Due West, South Carolina, one of five children of Azzie Lee Ellis Wilson and John Theodore Wilson Sr., both of whom were college graduates and teachers. Because the local black public schools were unaccredited, her parents sent her to a black boarding school, Harbison Junior College in Irmo, South Carolina, at the age of fourteen. Two years later, at the age of sixteen, she entered Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. There she met fellow student James Hutten Costen. She graduated with a BA in Education in 1952 and married Jim Costen the day before he graduated in 1953. They eventually had two sons and one daughter, James Jr., Craig, and Cheryl.

Costen taught elementary school in the Mecklenburg County school system from 1952 to 1955 the year her husband ...

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Christopher M. Rabb

evangelical abolitionist, educator, minister, and “conductor” in the Underground Railroad, was born in Rahway, New Jersey.

A towering figure in nineteenth-century black civil rights circles on the East Coast and beyond, Amos Noë Freeman's words and deeds as a civic leader for nearly seventy years were rivaled only by the exemplary company he kept. His closest colleagues in the abolitionist movement included Frederick Douglass, John Brown, Theodore Dwight Weld, Henry Ward Beecher, Beriah Green, Gerrit Smith, Theodore Sedgwick Wright, Simeon Jocelyn, Archibald Grimké, Arthur and Lewis Tappan, and former Oneida Institute classmates Henry Highland Garnet, Alexander Crummell, Amos G. Beman, and J. W. C. Pennington.

Little is known about Freeman s parentage or childhood including whether he was ever enslaved or indentured having been born in a state where the gradual abolition ...