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Aomar Boum

Moroccan troubadour poet and Sufi figure, was born in 1506 in the village of Tit near the city of Azemmour. He is also known as al-Shaykh Abu Zayd Abderrahman al-Majdoub Ibn Ayyad Ibn Yaacub Ibn Salama Ibn Khashan al-Sanhaji al-Dukkali and as al-Majdoub; his contemporaries nicknamed him El Majdoub. He moved with his father to Meknès in 1508 His father was a renowned Sufi trained by al Shaykh Ibrahim Afham al Zarhuni a disciple of al Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq Zarruq was a North African Sufi who lived through the fifteenth century Marinid religious turmoil He called for new interpretations of Islam based on juridical sainthood that stressed religious form Accordingly Zarruq asked Sufi authorities of Fez to avoid opportunistic notions of jihad that scapegoat some Muslims in order to increase the accusers political status Abderrahman El Majdoub was influenced indirectly by some of Zarruq s ideas regarding the nature ...

Article

Mary T. Henry

bishop, civil rights leader, and educator, was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to Rev. Eugene Avery Adams and Charity Nash Adams. He and his three siblings, Avery, Charity, and Lucy Rose, were raised in a spiritual and intellectually stimulating home. His father, an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister and social activist, in the 1920s organized the first African American bank in Columbia and the first modern statewide civil rights organization in South Carolina. None of these activities went unnoticed by young John and they helped to define his later focus and commitments. Adams was educated in the segregated Columbia school system and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. His undergraduate work was completed at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he earned an AB degree in History in 1947 After studying at Boston University School of Theology he received a bachelor of ...

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Adam Biggs

Walter Henderson Brooks was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Albert Royal Brooks and Lucy Goode, slaves. Brooks's father was an enterprising slave who owned his own “snack house” and a livery business that brought him into contact with some of Virginia's wealthiest citizens, including his wife's owner, German consul Daniel Von Groning. Albert Brooks purchased his wife's freedom in 1862 for $800 Still a slave Walter Brooks at age seven was sold to the Turpin Yarborough tobacco firm He woefully recalled his time there writing It was all I could do to perform the task assigned to my little hands What I do remember is that I stood in mortal fear of the consequences of failing to do what was required of me When the Richmond manufacturer fell victim to wartime economic decline Brooks was allowed to reside with his mother and began working ...

Article

Adam Biggs

clergyman, temperance leader, and poet, was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Albert Royal Brooks and Lucy Goode, slaves. Brooks's father, an enterprising slave, owned his own “snack house” and a livery business that brought him into contact with some of Virginia's wealthiest citizens, including his wife's owner, the German consul Daniel Von Groning. Albert Brooks purchased his wife's freedom in 1862 for eight hundred dollars. Still a slave, Walter Brooks at age seven was sold to the Turpin & Yarborough tobacco firm. He woefully recalled his time there, writing: “It was all I could do to perform the task assigned to my little hands. What I do remember is that I stood in mortal fear of ‘the consequences’ of failing to do what was required of me.” When the Richmond manufacturer fell victim to wartime economic decline, Brooks was allowed to reside with his mother ...

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

Alessandra Vianello

Islamic mystic and scholar, and the most outstanding poetess in Chimini, the Bantu vernacular of Brava, was born in Brava, a coastal city of southern Somalia, in the second decade of the nineteenth century. Her full name was Mana Sitti Habib Jamaladdin, but she was affectionately called Dada Masiti (Grandmother Masiti) by her fellow citizens. Her family, both on the paternal and maternal side, belonged to the Mahadali Ashraf. However, through her mother’s maternal grandfather, Dada Masiti was also related to the Ali Naziri Ashraf, who were locally more numerous and influential. Both groups, who traced their lineage to the Prophet Muhammad, had settled in Brava in the early seventeenth century.

The events that marked Dada Masiti s early years and had a crucial bearing on her subsequent spiritual development are known only through different oral traditions The most widespread version would have her kidnapped as a child of six ...

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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 ...

Article

Kimani Njogu

Kenyan theologian, preacher, counselor, author, and poet, was born on 3 March 1925. As a child John Gatu attended Kambui Mission School between 1931 and 1940. However, his education was cut short in 1941 when he joined the army during World War II, and rose through the ranks to become a company sergeant major, the second-highest rank that was available then to Kenyans. At the time Gatu did not believe in Christianity, despite coming from a Christian background. While in the army, in June 1946, Gatu attended the coveted victory parade in London and had a meeting with Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president, for the first time. For Gatu, Christianity was the “opium applied to Africans by the white man” (personal communication, 3 March 2006). This belief led him to take the Mau Mau oath and fight for the liberation of Kenya.

During this period Gatu trained ...

Article

Allen J. Fromherz

was born in Valencia, Spain in Rabi II 595 (according to the Islamic calendar), or January/February 1199, and is considered one of the greatest writers of the twelfth century. His full name, Abu ʿAbd Allah Ibn al-Abbar al QudaʿI, means “Son of the Seller of Sewing Needles,” indicating that his family was probably part of the small-scale merchant class in Muslim Spain.

As a young man Ibn al-Abbar witnessed the devastating battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212 which turned the tide against the Almohads in Muslim Spain Divided and defeated the Muslim west began to fracture His early master Ibn Mardanish ruler in Murcia converted to Christianity possibly as a means of forming an alliance with other Christian rulers and averting the capture of his city Although Ibn al Abbar did not follow his master in converting he had no scruples about working for an ...

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Allen J. Fromherz

Egyptian Sufi mystic and poet, was born in Cairo. Most of his early years were spent in the hills to the east of Cairo and in the deserts. Although he started along the same path of his father, an estate lawyer, he felt that dry, legal study of the scripture was insufficient. He abandoned formal schooling. In an act reminiscent of the Christian desert fathers, he spent time in the deserted and empty quarters of Arabia, where he faced trials and had a vision of the Prophet Muhammad. He was praised as a saint when he returned to Cairo and told of his visions. His tomb beneath the mountains near Cairo is a major site of veneration to this day. The diwan, or the collected writings of Ibn al-Farid, is famous primarily for its poetry.

Like many mystic poets and writers Ibn al Farid used images of forbidden pleasures and ...

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

Arthuree McLaughlin Wright

evangelist and poet, was born Lena Doolin in Quincy, Illinois, to Vaughn Poole Doolin, a black Civil War soldier, and Reida (or Reba) Doolin, a former slave. After the war the Doolin family moved to Hannibal, Missouri. Lena Doolin was the fifth of ten children and grew up with her seven sisters and two brothers in a loving family. Doolin's parents affirmed her as a person and nurtured her in the Christian faith. In January 1872, at the age of seven, she joined the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church of Hannibal under the Reverend John Turner Church leaders and family sensed that Lena had a special God ordained purpose for her life at an early age and by age twelve she was able to interpret scripture as effectively as an adult Twice during her youth she felt a nudging from God to preach the Christian ...

Article

A pioneer in fields previously inaccessible to women and African Americans, Pauli Murray was the first African American to be awarded a doctor of judicial science degree from Yale University. A freedom rider in the 1940s who later led student Sit-In demonstrations in Washington, D.C., restaurants, Murray graduated at the top of her class at Howard University. Nominated by the National Council of Negro Women as one of the twelve outstanding women in Negro life in 1945, Murray was the recipient of many honorary degrees and was a founding member of the National Organization for Women. In 1977 she was the first African American woman ordained as a priest of the Episcopal Church.

The daughter of a racially mixed middle-class family, Murray was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the fourth of Agnes Georgianna Fitzgerald Murray and William Henry Murray s six children When Pauli Murray was ...

Article

Sharon Carson

Long recognized as a leading nineteenth-century Christian activist and theologian, Daniel Payne's literary achievements are varied and equally important. From his childhood in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was born to free and deeply religious parents, through his long ministry with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and eventual presidency of Wilberforce University, Payne pursued a rigorous program of self-directed study. He began to write and teach at an early age, starting his first school in Charleston in 1829 when he was only nineteen years old, and teaching there until 1835, when the South Carolina legislature made it illegal to teach slaves to read or write. Forced to close his school, Payne moved to the North, where he published a collection of poetry in 1850. In The Pleasures and Other Miscellaneous Poems, Payne included a poem heralding the emancipation of the West Indies in 1838 ...

Article

Allen J. Fromherz

an early humanist and one of the greatest poets of the Italian vernacular was born Francesco Petrarca in the city of Arezzo in Tuscany His family moved to Avignon in France which was then the seat of the exiled Papal Court Although he started out pursuing the career of a lawyer Petrarch completed his studies in Montpellier and Bologna where he gained a great appreciation for literature Known as Petrarch in English his writings were widely read during and after his lifetime and are credited with helping start the fourteenth century Renaissance in Europe In the sixteenth century Pietro Bembo used Petrarch s writings as the Ur text of the Italian language Petrarch also influenced other great Italian humanists who were his contemporaries including Boccaccio and Dante Reviving the Latin writings of classical Rome Petrarch was one of the first to identify the centuries between him and the fall of ...

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Marilyn Demarest Button

Elymas Payson Rogers was born in Madison, Connecticut, the son of Abel Rogers and Chloe Ladue, farmers. His father, the son of an African slave who had survived a shipwreck off the coast of Connecticut, was raised as family by the Reverend Jonathan Todd, from whom he eventually inherited the farmland on which he made his living. In the early 1830s, Rogers left for Hartford, Connecticut, where he attended school and worked for his board in the home of a Major Caldwell. His first formal church affiliation was established in 1833 as a communicant of the Hartford Talcott Street congregation.

In 1835 Rogers went to Peterboro, New York, to study for the ministry at a school established by the philanthropist-reformer Gerrit Smith The following year to pay for his studies he began teaching at the recommendation of Smith in a public school for black children ...

Article

Marilyn Demarest Button

clergyman, poet, and missionary, was born in Madison, Connecticut, the son of Abel Rogers and Chloe Ladue, farmers. His father, the son of an African slave who had survived a shipwreck off the coast of Connecticut, was raised as family by the Reverend Jonathan Todd, from whom he eventually inherited the farmland on which he made his living. In the early 1830s Rogers left for Hartford, Connecticut, where he attended school and worked for his board in the home of a Major Caldwell. His first formal church affiliation was established in 1833 as a communicant of the Hartford Talcott Street congregation.

In 1835 Rogers went to Peterboro, New York, to study for the ministry at a school established by the philanthropist-reformer Gerrit Smith The following year to pay for his studies he began teaching at the recommendation of Smith in a public school ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

poet, minister, and editor, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, to Adeline Agnes Starr Ferguson Rowe and Solomon D. Rowe, sexton of St. Michael's Episcopal Church, 1865–1880. He was descended on his mother's side from Robin Starr, enslaved and brought to Danbury, Connecticut, from Guinea in West Africa in the late 1600s, and on his father's side from grandfather Phillip Rowe, enslaved in Litchfield until the early 1800s (Smith, pp. 37–40).

At the age of seventeen, Rowe obtained an apprenticeship with the weekly Litchfield Enquirer, earning a certificate in the printing trade after three years. Gifted with an inquiring mind, he next began a study of natural history and theology, collecting, identifying, and labeling specimens of minerals, bird eggs, and reptiles.

He married Miranda Jackson, who was born in 1857 to Richard and Mary Ward Jackson of Salisbury, Connecticut, on 8 July 1874 ...

Article

Baltasar Fra-Molinero

Sister Teresa Juliana de Santo Domingo was born in Africa with the name Chicaba. By her own testimony, she was the daughter of a king or a chief from the area of La Mina Baxa del Oro. Spanish geographers applied this name to the region then known in English as the Slave Coast, extending from present-day Ghana to Nigeria. When the girl was nine years old, a slave ship captured her and took her to the island of São Tomé, where she was baptized, and then to Spain.

Presented to King Carlos II because of her unusual personality and her claim to be the daughter of royalty she was given by the Spanish king as a present to the Marquis de Mancera former viceroy of Mexico In the household of the Marquis she revealed a profound religiosity and a spiritual ascendance over her owner s wife She succeeded in obtaining ...