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Florence M. Coleman

slave, Civil War soldier, politician, and Baptist minister, was born Peter Barnabas Barrow, a Virginia slave. The month and day of his birth are unknown. It is believed that he was born near Petersburg, Virginia, and may have been taken to Mississippi or Alabama with his owner. In 1864 Barrow joined Company A, 66th U.S. Colored Infantry and in 1865 became a sergeant. A year later Barrow was discharged because of an injury he received. He went on to teach school at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Barrow, who was most likely self-educated, served as a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives for Warren County, Mississippi, from 1870 to 1871. From 1872 to 1875 he served in the Mississippi State Senate. He migrated to Spokane, Washington, in 1889 and settled there in the city s African American community Barrow and other African Americans were determined to thrive by establishing ...

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Ralph E. Luker

Methodist educator and theologian, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Edward Bowen and Rose Simon. John's father was a carpenter from Maryland who was enslaved when he moved to New Orleans. After purchasing his own freedom, Edward Bowen bought that of his wife and son in 1858 and served in the Union army during the Civil War. After the war, young J. W. E. Bowen studied at the Union Normal School in New Orleans and at New Orleans University, which was founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church for the education of freedmen. Bowen received a bachelor's degree with the university's first graduating class in 1878. Eight years later, New Orleans University awarded him a master's degree. From 1878 to 1882 Bowen taught mathematics and ancient languages at Central Tennessee College in Nashville.

In 1882 Bowen began theological studies at Boston University While he was ...

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David Michel

publisher, entrepreneur, and banker, was born to Richard Henry Boyd, a publisher, and the former Harriet Moore in Grimes County, Texas, one of nine children. Henry Allen went to public school in Palestine, Texas, and attended the West Union Baptist Church. The Boyd family later moved to San Antonio and Henry found work at the local postal office. He became the first black to be hired as a postal clerk in San Antonio. He married Lula M. Smith, who bore him a daughter, Katherine. Lula did not live long after her daughter's birth. In 1908 he married again, this time to Georgia Ann Bradford. Around the early 1900s Henry Allen moved to Nashville, Tennessee, at the request of his father who had preceded him there. R. H. Boyd was making a name for himself in Nashville as founder and secretary treasurer of the National Baptist ...

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Frederick V. Mills

Episcopal clergyman, was born in Warrenton, North Carolina, the son of George Freeman Bragg Sr. and Mary Bragg (maiden name unknown). He was two years old when the family moved to Petersburg, Virginia, where he studied at the elementary school and at St. Stephen's Parish and Normal School. His family helped found St. Stephen's Church for Negroes in 1867. At age six he was employed as a valet by John Hampden Chamberlayne, editor of the Petersburg Index. In 1879 he entered a school founded by Major Giles B. Cooke, a former chaplain on Robert E. Lee's staff; the school had become a branch of Virginia Theological Seminary. The next year he was suspended for not being “humble” but was appointed a page in the Virginia legislature by the Readjuster Party. After a severe case of typhoid fever and a period of teaching school in 1885 ...

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Sandy Dwayne Martin

Edward McKnight Brawley was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of free African American parents, Ann L. (maiden name unknown) and James M. Brawley. Brawley's parents took a keen interest in the education and professional development of their son, providing him private schooling in Charleston, sending him at the age of ten to Philadelphia to attend grammar school and the Institute for Colored Youth, and having him apprenticed to a shoemaker in Charleston from 1866 to 1869. He enrolled as the first theological student at Howard University for a few months in 1870; he transferred to Bucknell University in Pennsylvania in January 1871. The first African American student at Bucknell, Brawley completed his education with the encouragement and financial support of a white couple named Griffith and his own work teaching vocal music and preaching during school vacations The white Baptist church in ...

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Sandy Dwayne Martin

Baptist minister, educator, and editor, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of free African American parents, Ann L. (maiden name unknown) and James M. Brawley. Brawley's parents took a keen interest in the education and professional development of their son, providing him private schooling in Charleston, sending him at the age of ten to Philadelphia to attend grammar school and the Institute for Colored Youth, and apprenticing him to a shoemaker in Charleston from 1866 to 1869. He enrolled as the first theological student at Howard University for a few months in 1870 but then transferred to Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, in January 1871 The first African American student at Bucknell Brawley completed his education with the encouragement and financial support of a white couple named Griffith and with his own work teaching vocal music and preaching during school vacations The white Baptist church ...

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Aldeen L. Davis

Alexander G. Clark was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania. His father, John Clark, had been freed by his Irish master; his mother, Rebecca (Darnes) Clark, was said to have been a full-blooded African. Alexander received a limited education in Washington County and in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was sent in 1839 to live with an uncle. He learned barbering, worked as a bartender on the steamer George Washington, and in May 1842 went to Muscatine, Iowa, where he opened a barbershop. He later contracted with steamboats to supply them with wood. Investing his money wisely, he purchased real estate and became a wealthy man. He devoted most of the rest of his life to the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), Prince Hall Masonry, the Republican Party, civil rights movements, and the Chicago Conservator which he edited He graduated from the University of Iowa Law ...

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Dorothy Drinkard-Hawkshawe

Levi Jenkins Coppin was born in Frederick, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore. His parents, Jane Lilly and John Coppin, were free people; therefore, he and his three brothers and three sisters were born free. Coppin's mother was a very religious woman who had a profound influence on his life. In addition to giving him religious training, she taught him to read and write. Although it was against a state law before the end of the Civil War (1861–1865 to educate blacks his mother held classes secretly in her home at night and on Sunday mornings before church Coppin assisted his mother in this task As a teenager he had a reputation for being able to read and write and boys went to him to have their love letters written For this service he charged ten cents a letter and according to Coppin they gladly paid Coppin ...

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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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Sandy Dwayne Martin

Baptist leader and race advocate, was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, to free parents, Eliza (maiden name unknown) and William De Baptiste. Born in a slave state at a time when individuals were fined and incarcerated for teaching blacks, enslaved or free, Richard was fortunate to have parents who earnestly sought to educate their children and some relatives in their home, despite the law and heavy surveillance. In 1846 his family moved to Detroit, Michigan. Richard received additional education and for a time attended classes at the University of Chicago. Once the leading building and manufacturing contractor in Fredericksburg, William De Baptiste, following an unsuccessful partnership in a grocery enterprise, returned to the construction business. Richard became a partner in the business before his twenty-first birthday and served for some years as its manager. From 1858 to about 1861 he also taught black youth in the public schools of ...

Article

John Langalibalele Dube was born near Inanda, Natal (in what is now KwaZulu-Natal province), in eastern South Africa. Dube studied at Oberlin College, in Oberlin, Ohio, and was ordained a minister before returning to Natal. In 1903 he was one of the founders and the editor of the first Zulu newspaper, Ilanga lase Natal (Sun of Natal). In 1909 he founded the Ohlange Institute for Boys and then a school for girls, both near Durban. The same year Dube helped convene a South African Native Convention at Bloemfontein to oppose the “European descent” clause in the draft constitution for the Union (now Republic) of South Africa, which would bar men of color from Parliament.

On January 8 1912, Dube was elected the first president general of the South African Native National Congress (which later became the African National Congress). He led the opposition to the 1913 ...

Article

David Killingray

Campaigning Christian evangelist, author, journalist, and Pan‐Africanist born in Dominica but educated in the neighbouring West Indian island of Antigua. An influential friend in Antigua was the Revd Henry Mason Joseph, later president of the African Association in London in 1897. In 1870 Edwards stowed away on a ship and over the next few years he travelled the world as a seaman visiting North and South America and Europe He landed in Sunderland and thereafter lived briefly in Edinburgh and Newcastle and worked with a group of black entertainers At some point he was converted to Christianity and as a Primitive Methodist worked as a temperance evangelist in Lancashire and Cheshire He had ambitions to go to Africa as a missionary but gravitated to east London where he ran a weekly Bible class for men and regularly preached in Victoria Park Some referred to ...

Article

Michele Valerie Ronnick

He was the son of David Henry Ferris (c. 1847–?) and Sara Jefferson Alexander Ferris (11 October 1847– May 1923) and the brother of Mabel Irene Ferris Williams (?–6 October 1924). His father was a Civil War veteran having joined Company E of the 20th Regiment of the US Colored Troops on 20 March 1865 when he was eighteen years old in New York. After studying at the Dixwell Avenue Grammar School, the Shelton Avenue and Gregory Street schools in New Haven, the thirteen-year-old Ferris entered the oldest public school in New Haven, the James Hillhouse School, and while there organized the De Yancey Guards, a colored boys’ militia group, which marched in New Haven’s Memorial Day Parade on 30 May 1888. After graduating from Hillhouse, he matriculated at Yale University in 1891 and earned his B.A. in 1895 having studied philosophy English ...

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Bobby Donaldson

minister, educator, and author, was born in Augusta, Georgia, to David Floyd, a minister, and Sarah Jane Nickson. He attended Augusta's Ware High School, the only publicly funded African American high school in Georgia. Following his graduation in 1886, Floyd enrolled at Atlanta University and received a bachelor's degree in 1891 and a master's degree three years later. Morris Brown College in Atlanta awarded him an honorary doctorate degree in June 1902. While at Atlanta University, Floyd explored his interests in writing and literature and also took courses in printmaking. During the summer months, he earned additional income teaching in the rural schools of Jones and Forsyth counties. Upon graduation, Floyd returned to Augusta and assumed editorship of the Augusta Sentinel newspaper, an organ established by his former Ware High School principal, Richard R. Wright Sr. In 1892 Floyd joined six ...

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Charles Rosenberg

librarian, journalist, and African Methodist Episcopal lay church leader, was born in Shannon, Mississippi, the son of William and Sarah Forbes, who had been enslaved until freed by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, the arrival of the United States Army in Mississippi, and the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Working at a young age in brickyards and farms, Forbes left the state at the age of fourteen, attended Wilberforce University in Ohio for a time, then moved to Boston in the 1880s. Mr. and Mrs. Mungin of Smith Court, a forgotten couple who assisted many struggling students, assisted him in finding work as a laborer at Memorial Hall in nearby Cambridge, saving money and studying. In 1888 Forbes enrolled at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he was a classmate of Sherman W. Jackson later principal of M Street High School in ...

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Frances Smith Foster

minister, author, editor, and activist, was born near New Market, Maryland, to an enslaved couple then known as George and Henrietta Trusty. A few weeks after the death of their owner, Henry, his parents, his sister, and seven other relatives escaped to Wilmington, Delaware. Part of the Trusty family went to New Jersey, but George and Henrietta, having changed their surname to Garnet, continued on to New Hope, Pennsylvania, where nine-year-old Henry had his first days of formal education. In 1825 the family moved to New York City. Henry, along with his cousin Samuel Ringgold Ward (whose family were also fugitive slaves) and his neighbor Alexander Crummell, attended the African Free School. About 1830 while apprenticed to a Quaker farmer on Long Island Henry was crippled in an accident The intrepid fifteen year old returned to New York City and enrolled at Canal ...