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Elizabeth D. Schafer

radio broadcaster, was born in Talladega County, Alabama, the son of Roy and Edna Garrett, tenant farmers. Although Garrett's father was illiterate, his mother could read and write and was concerned that her children be educated. By age five Garrett was literate and attended school with his siblings. He also helped his brothers and father farm the land they rented.

Not much is known about Garrett's childhood. By the 1940s he was living in Birmingham, Alabama, where he owned a dry cleaning business. Garrett also worked as a disc jockey at “soul” station WVOK and used his personal records and turntables. In 1957, motivated by the opportunity to secure a broadcast frequency and determined to establish a radio station, Garrett moved to Huntsville, Alabama. He was denied a building permit by the city government, however, and was arrested when he began construction without one.

Garrett protested the ...

Article

Born to slave parents, Rosa Horn began preaching in Evanston, Illinois, and moved to New York City in 1926 in order to expand her ministry. In 1929 she founded the Pentecostal Faith Church for All Nations, which was also known as the Mount Calvary Pentecostal Faith Church.

Horn began radio broadcasting from her Harlem congregation in 1934 and her program, You, Pray For Me Church of the Air, attracted listeners from as far as the South and the Caribbean. James Baldwin attended her church as a child, and she inspired him to become a preacher. During the Great Depression Horn opened the Gleaners' Aid Home, which provided food for the poor. From the 1940s through the 1970s, Horn focused her charitable works primarily on providing vocational and religious training to poor youth.

Article

Jason Philip Miller

professional basketball player, member of the Harlem Globetrotters, and minister, was born George Meadow Lemon III in Wilmington, North Carolina. Neither his parents' names nor their occupations are known. When he was eleven years old, Lemon went to the local movie house and saw a short reel about Abe Saperstein's famous Harlem Globetrotters basketball team and decided that one day he would be a member. Lemon attended public school in Wilmington, where he excelled at basketball and football. In 1952, while still a high school student, he wrote the Globetrotters to request a tryout and was given one, but he failed to make the team.

That same year Lemon matriculated at Florida A M University but he spent only a few weeks there before he was drafted into the U S Army He spent two years in the service and as luck would have it was stationed ...

Article

De Witt S. Dykes

Vashti McKenzie worked as a model as a teenager, later became a newspaper reporter, hosted radio and television shows, and served as vice president of a television station before entering the Christian ministry. After becoming pastor of two small African Methodist Episcopal (AME) churches, she was appointed pastor of Payne Memorial AME Church in Baltimore, Maryland. At the end of ten years of this pastorate, she was the first woman elected as a Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church denomination.

Vashti Murphy Smith was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Edward Smith and Ida Murphy Smith Peters. Her mother was the daughter of Vashti Turley Murphy, one of the twenty-two cofounders of the national African American sorority, Delta Sigma Theta. Ida Murphy Smith worked from a young age for the Baltimore Afro-American serving as reporter for several decades and managing the marketing and advertising departments Edward ...

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Lillian Ashcraft-Eason

Lightfoot Solomon Michaux was born in Newport News, Virginia, the son of John Michaux, a fish peddler and grocer, and May Blanche. Lightfoot, whose ancestry was African, Indian, and French-Jewish, spent his formative years in Newport News among Jewish and white gentile merchants on Jefferson Avenue, the main commercial street where the Michauxs lived in quarters above the family's store. He attended the Twenty-second Street School, quitting after the fourth grade to become a seafood peddler. Impressed with the town's commercial atmosphere, he aspired to be a successful businessman. While engaged in one business venture, he met Mary Eliza Pauline, a mulatto orphan. They married in 1906; the couple had no children of their own but helped raise Michaux's two young sisters.

During World War I Michaux obtained government contracts to furnish food to defense establishments With the profits from his enterprises he moved ...

Article

SaFiya D. Hoskins

singer, actress, and ordained minister, was born Delloreese Patricia Early in Detroit, Michigan, the only child born to the union of Nellie Mitchelle and Richard Thaddeus Early. Her mother, who was of Cherokee descent, worked as cook, and her father was a steelworker. Reese grew up in the church and began singing gospel at age six. As a young teenager, she served as a choir director and would often perform on radio. Subsequently, Reese was discovered by the popular gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. At age thirteen, she began touring with Jackson; she graduated from Cass Technical High School two years later and continued touring with Jackson. While a psychology student at Wayne State University in Detroit, at age eighteen, Reese formed her own gospel group called the Meditation Singers, which would become the first group to popularize gospel in Las Vegas.

Reese discontinued her education at ...

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Robbie Clark

The multitalented Della Reese is one of the most treasured and well-respected entertainers of our time. Born Deloreese Patricia Early, she discovered her own singing talents as early as the age of six, singing hymns and gospel songs from the bathroom window of her family’s third-floor apartment in Detroit, Michigan. Radio listeners heard her voice over the airways across Detroit when the six-year-old sang as a soloist with the Olivet Baptist Church choir. It was then that family, friends, and neighbors unmistakably recognized her as their very own child prodigy. Her aspirations grew over the years to include writing, acting, and teaching, as well as singing.

Della Reese was born in Detroit. Her father, Richard Thad Early, an African American, was a steelworker. Her mother, Nellie Early was a Cherokee Indian and worked as a housekeeper She had five half siblings When she was thirteen years old ...

Article

Arthur C. Verge

minister and political activist, was born in Los Angeles, California. The names of his parents are unknown. Primarily educated in Los Angeles–area schools, Russell also studied theology in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the early 1930s at the nation's International College. Russell later remarked that his experiences studying abroad profoundly influenced his thinking about the plight of fellow African Americans in the United States. Foremost among his overseas memories was a visit to Weimar Germany, where the Los Angeles cleric witnessed firsthand the rise of Adolph Hitler's Nationalist Socialist (Nazi) Party and its racist ideology.

In 1936 Russell took over the pastorate of Los Angeles's People's Independent Church. This church, which had emanated in 1915 from the black community s more conservative and powerful First African Methodist Episcopal AME Church became known for its outreach programs for poor and disenfranchised blacks Within a year into Russell s tenure the People ...

Article

Devin C. Manzullo-Thomas

evangelist and church leader, was born Thomas P. Skinner in New York City, the eldest son of Georgia (Robinson) and Alester Jerry Skinner, the latter a Baptist minister.

Growing up in the crime- and poverty-ridden Harlem of the 1940s and 1950s, Skinner rejected the church of his parents, denouncing Christianity as a “white man's religion.” As a teenager, he became a gang leader. One night, while preparing for a gang fight, Skinner heard an uneducated radio preacher and was converted to evangelical Christianity.

As a result of this experience, Skinner became a street preacher in Harlem. On 2 June 1959, he was ordained in the ministry by the United Missionary Baptist Association of Greater New York and Vicinity.

In 1961 Skinner worked with local church and community leaders to organize the Harlem Evangelistic Association A year later Skinner preached an eight month evangelistic crusade at Harlem s ...

Article

Amy Sparks Kolker

journalist and educator, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the only child of Margaret Smith, who raised her on her own. It is uncertain whether Smith was born into slavery. Though her mother and she were poor and struggled to make ends meet, Smith managed to get an education, and by the age of sixteen she had begun to support her mother and herself by working as a secretary to William James Simmons, the president of the State University of Louisville. Later, after she graduated from the Normal Department at the State University in 1887, she worked as a faculty member.

Through her connection to Simmons, Smith also began working as a journalist. Simmons was an editor of the American Baptist, a newspaper owned by black Baptists, and in 1884 Smith began writing The Children s Column for the publication When Simmons became the ...

Article

was born Martha Jean Jones in Memphis, Tennessee, one of five children of Virgil and Florence (Mabley) Jones. Martha Jean’s first career was nursing, but she also modeled and produced fashion shows. She married jazz trumpeter Luther Steinberg circa 1949 and they had three daughters, Diane, Sandra, and Trienere, but the marriage did not work out and the two eventually separated.

Around 1954 Martha Jean Steinberg entered a contest to be an announcer on the Memphis radio station WDIA Although owned by whites the station s format was aimed at the black community She didn t win the contest but the program director liked her voice and offered her a part time shift There are several versions of how she acquired her nickname The Queen Reporter Susan Whitall says it was t hanks to her 6 foot stature and regal demeanor p 39 But Louis Cantor a former WDIA ...