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Benjamin Hebblethwaite

was born on 25 August 1939 in Haiti. Over the course of his career, Beauvoir contributed to the sciences, established a prominent Vodou temple and cultural organization, and published cornerstone volumes of Vodou sacred literature. His publishing solidified his status as the most influential Vodou priest of his generation. Son of one of the first black graduates from Temple University Medical School in Philadelphia, Beauvoir graduated from City University of New York with a degree in chemistry in 1958 and earned a degree in biochemistry in 1962 from the Sorbonne in Paris. As a chemist he worked at Cornell Medical Center in New York City on the synthesis of metabolic steroids; later he worked on the synthesis of hydrocortisone from plants.

In 1973, Beauvoir’s nonagenarian grandfather, an oungan (Vodou priest), designated him as the head of the family religion prior to his death. In 1974 Beauvoir and his ...

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Raymond Pierre Hylton

minister, author, physician, dentist, and missionary, was born in Winton, North Carolina. His father, Lemuel Washington Boone (1827–1878), was a prominent minister and politician, and one of the original trustees of Shaw University.

Boone received his early education at Waters Normal and Industrial Institute in Winton. From 1896 to 1899 he attended Richmond Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. In 1899, when the seminary merged with Wayland Seminary College of Meridian Hill in Washington, D.C., to form Virginia Union University and moved to its new Richmond campus at North Lombardy Street, Boone finished his senior year and became part of the university's first graduating class in 1900; he received the bachelor's of divinity degree.

During his final year at Virginia Union, Boone met Eva Roberta Coles from Charlottesville, Virginia, who studied at the neighboring African American women's institution, Hartshorn Memorial College, from which she graduated in 1899 ...

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Sylvia M. Jacobs

teacher and missionary, was born Eva Coles in Charlottesville, Virginia. Nothing is known about her parents or her early years. She is sometimes confused with Elizabeth Coles, and her parents are often erroneously listed as John J. Coles and Lucy A. Henry Coles, who married in 1886 and went to Liberia as missionaries in 1887.

Eva Coles was one of the first young women to attend Hartshorn Memorial College in Richmond, Virginia. This institution had been established in 1883 by northern white Baptists as the world's first college for African American females (Spelman College in Atlanta did not become a college until 1924, and Bennett College in North Carolina was coeducational until 1926 Hartshorn was established by the American Baptist Home Mission Society ABHMS through the donation of Joseph C Hartshorn of Rhode Island as a memorial to his late wife The first classes at ...

Article

Dennis C. Dickerson

physician and social and political activist, was born one of twelve children to Barnett Glenn Cannon and Mary Tucker Cannon, a former slave. He was born in Fishdam (later Carlisle), South Carolina. Northern Presbyterians offered education for Cannon at the Brainerd Institute in South Carolina and at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Hearing that J. C. Price, a prominent African American educator and African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) minister, was a Lincoln graduate convinced Cannon to attend the Presbyterian school. Work as a Pullman porter covered his expenses at Lincoln, and as an athletic and abstemious undergraduate he emerged as a leader among his peers in the class of 1893. He became one of nine classmates to enter medicine, and like another Lincoln graduate, Eugene P. Roberts, class of 1891 he entered the New York Homeopathic Medical College and Flower Hospital Again his position as a porter ...

Article

Kwasi Konadu

Ghanaian indigenous healer and blacksmith, was born in 1913, three years after an outbreak of yellow fever in the Gold Coast colony (present-day Ghana), to Yaw Badu of Nkoranza and Akosua Toa, into a Bono (Akan) family in Takyiman. Nana Donkor’s early years and socialization in a family of well-respected healers and blacksmiths were significant to his eventual vocation, for he engaged matters of spirituality and healing from a very early age, and his family nurtured and supported those interests.

Kofi Donkor’s path as a prominent healer was suggested by the very circumstances of his birth. After Kofi Donkor’s two elder sisters were born, the next five children died shortly after birth. This troubled Yaw Badu and Akosua Toa greatly, and so they consulted an obosom (pl. abosom a spiritual agent often viewed as a child of the Akan Creator Both parents made several ritual sacrifices and as ...

Article

Werner Graebner

taarab singer, drummer, and healer, was born in urban Zanzibar. Her parents had migrated to the islands from the Kilwa area of Tanzania on the East African mainland. She is better known as Bi Kidude. Some controversy surrounds Kidude’s birthdate; considering all evidence, the latest she could have been born is around 1920. Growing up in suburban Zanzibar’s Ng’ambo area, she showed interest from a young age in taarab song, a genre of poetry sung to musical accompaniment developed in nineteeth- century Zanzibar. One of her uncles, Buda Suwedi, was a member of Siti Bint Saadi’s group, then the most popular singer in Zanzibar. Kidude attended night rehearsals at Saadi’s place, pretending to sleep in a corner or on the outside baraza bench, soaking up the songs, which still form her main repertoire today.

When Kidude was in her teens, dhows traditional Arab sailboats from all over the ...

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Deborah Bingham Van Broekhoven

Congo missionary and physician, was born in Hibernia, Florida, on the Fleming plantation, to slave parents. Her siblings included William and Scipio Fleming, older brothers, and Thomas, Mary, Emma, Anna, and Evan Hawkins, children her mother, Cleo Fleming, bore by her second husband, Clem Hawkins. As the Civil War began, Fleming's father escaped slavery by joining the Thirty-third Colored Regiment of the Union army. He died just as the war was ending, and Lulu, as she was usually called, never knew him.

Fleming credited her mother with her early education, which by 1883 had advanced sufficiently for Fleming to teach in the public schools of Saint Augustine Florida She saw her teaching as a ministry one fruit of her religious conversion at age fifteen Looking back she judged that her conversion made her a missionary like Andrew of old from ...

Article

Kenyan poet and healer, was born in Mombasa, Kenya. He is the older brother of Abdilatif Abdalla and a cousin of the famous taarab singer Juma Bhalo, who recorded song versions of many of Ahmad Nassir’s poems. Nassir’s earliest poems were published in the newspaper Sauti ya Pwani. His poems next were anthologized by Lyndon Harries in Poems from Kenya (1966) . Nassir’s second anthology, Malenga wa Mvita: Diwani wa Ustadh Bhalo (1971) , was awarded the Kenyatta Prize for Literature, Kenya’s major literary award, in 1972. Nassir’s poetry is deeply religious and philosophical. While both of the anthologies of his poems contain poems on religious topics, his religious and philosophical concerns are most fully explored in his 457-verse narrative poem on moral virtue, Utenzi wa Mtu ni Utu (1979) . This work has been analyzed in detail by Kai Kresse who ...

Article

Willie Henderson

Scottish medical doctor, missionary, author, antislavery campaigner, British consul, and explorer of southern and central Africa, was born in a one-room tenement home in the modest Scottish town of Blantyre on 9 March 1813. He was the second son of Neil Livingstone, a self-employed tea dealer, and Agnes (née Hunter) Livingstone. Taught to read by his family, the young Livingstone embarked on self-education through the judicious reading of cultural and scientific works. He came slowly to Christianity and saw no conflict between faith and scientific understanding. Livingstone’s Christianity had a strong practical bent. His faith led him to, in his words, devote his “life to the alleviation of human misery” and led him to obtain a “medical education” in the hope of working in China (Missionary Travels p 5 At nineteen he enrolled to study medicine at Anderson s College in Glasgow now the University of ...

Article

Jeri Chase Ferris

slave, nurse, landowner, and philanthropist, was born a slave in Hancock County, Georgia, of unknown parents. Though her slave name was Bridget, she was almost always called Biddy, and not until she achieved her freedom in Los Angeles, California, in 1865 did she take the surname Mason. It is not definitively known why she chose “Mason,” although Amasa Mason Lyman was the company captain on Biddy Mason's journey from Mississippi to Salt Lake City, and later to San Bernardino. Biddy was an infant when she was given or sold to the John Smithson family of Mississippi, to whom she belonged until she was eighteen. Smithson then gave her, along with two other slaves, as a wedding present to his cousin Rebecca when she married Robert M. Smith Biddy Mason s new duties included nursing care of the frail Rebecca Smith and the making ...

Article

Anne Waliaula

revered Tanzanian Maasai laibon (prophet, diviner, healer, and ritual expert; an alternate form of his name is Mbatian), was the son of another famous Maasai laibon, Supeet, son of Kidongoi. Mbatiany’s grandfather Kidongoi is said to be the first laibon, an orphaned child who was raised by the Laiser clan of the Maasai, only to be found to possess extraordinary divination and healing power. Thus, Mbatiany’s laibon lineage began with the Kidongoi family who later formed their own clan or group of families known as the Inkidongi clan The sons of Kidongoi were Lesikireshu Sitonik and Supeet Supeet then became the father to Mbatiany Mako and Neelyang Very little is known about the other children of Supeet and even the female in Mbatiany s life The known sons of Mbatiany are Senteu Sendeyo and Lenana Olonana Other children are not mentioned probably because they did not have ...

Article

Baptiste Bonnefoy

was born in Santiago, Chile, sometime during the 1740s, the illegitimate son of María Luisa Morales and an unknown father. Morales was known as a pardo, a designation commonly applied in eighteenth-century Chile to free persons of color.

During the 1750s, Morales entered the artillery unit of Santiago’s urban black militia, a group responsible for the night patrol of the streets of the city and the protection of its shops and warehouses. In the militia he became acquainted with the pardo captains Mariano Barros (1749–1822), Gregorio Arenas (1727–1792), and Juan de Dios Portillo (1746–1813 He also set up shop as a barber a type of informal medical practitioner without official certification Barbers typically bled their patients pulled teeth and treated the widespread infectious diseases that particularly plagued the poorest segments of the population Only those of European descent were legally permitted to obtain ...

Article

Mary Krane Derr

physician and religious worker, was born Georgia Esther Lee Patton into slavery in mountainous Grundy County, southeast Tennessee, the youngest of her parents' many children. Little is known about her mother and father, both of whom were born into slavery in Tennessee. Georgia's mother was widowed while pregnant with her. When Georgia was two, the family settled nearby in Coffee County, where her mother took in laundry. The local school opened only a few weeks each year, if at all. Between her ninth and seventeenth years, Georgia's formal education totaled a mere twenty-six months.

When Georgia was sixteen her mother died and her siblings took over her care. They pooled their resources and sent her to Nashville's Central Tennessee College (later Walden University) in February 1882. However, she had to spend most of each year earning her living expenses instead of attending classes. By 1890 she completed ...

Article

Juan Angola Maconde

known for her knowledge of natural medicine and her work as a midwife, was born on 2 August 1920 at Tocaña, a community in the town of Coroico, the largest community of Afro-descendants in the Yungas region of La Paz, Bolivia. As one of the oldest members of the community, Pinedo Pedrero was often consulted by those collecting oral history of life in the region before the agrarian reforms of 1952, in which the revolutionary government redistributed land and ended forced labor.

In Tocaña and the surrounding communities Pinedo Pedrero gained a reputation in her village of Coroico for healing and midwifery by the 1960s when she was in her forties For generations Tocaña s families sought her advice on healthcare matters and to remedy relieve and console those suffering from physical emotional or spiritual ailments The fields were her pharmacy She collected medicinal herbs and depending on the ...

Article

Darshell Silva

(also known as Cromwell Ashbie Hawkins West, Carlos Ashbie Hawk Westez, Ashbie Hawkins West, and Namo S. Hatirire) activist, linguist, storyteller, performer, and shaman, was born in Newport, Rhode Island. There are varying accounts of Red Thunder Cloud's parentage and upbringing. According to his own account, he was born Carlos Ashibie Hawk Westez. As a young boy, he was brought up among the Narragansett Indians of Rhode Island by his Catawba mother, Roberta Hawk Westez, and his Honduran father, Carlos Panchito Westez. He is believed to have lived among the Shinnecock Indians of Long Island in the late 1930s. His actual home during much of this time was said to be on the Catawba Reservation in South Carolina, but he traveled extensively, visiting many Indian groups. This account of his early life has been challenged by Smithsonian anthropologist and ethnologist Ives Goddard who claimed ...

Article

Doctor and writer who was born in Jamaica and grew up in Stewart Town. He studied medicine in Glasgow, later touring Scotland and Ireland to raise funds for Africans to Christianize Africa. He left for the Congo in 1886, where he ran a sanatorium. He returned to Europe in 1887 and eventually took an MD degree at Brussels in 1893; in the same year he went to the African Training Institute at Colwyn Bay, a training school for Africans. He went to Calabar, Nigeria, for the Institute. This experience stimulated his writing, and in 1899 he published The British Empire and Alliances: Britain's Duty to Her Colonies and Subject Races, in which he attacked the disparagement of Africans and pointed out the similarities across societies in development. In 1903 his Chamberlain and Chamberlainism: His Fiscal Policies and Colonial Policy attacked the controversial Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain ...