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Jennifer Jensen Wallach

minister, civil rights activist, and close adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. An Alabama native, Abernathy was one of twelve children born to successful farmers who had managed to rise from sharecropping to owning a five-hundred-acre farm. Abernathy's father was a deacon in a local church, and from a young age Abernathy wanted to join the ministry. He became an ordained Baptist minister in 1948. In 1950 he received a BS in mathematics from Alabama State University. He began what became a career in political activism while in college by leading demonstrations to protest the poor quality of food in the campus cafeteria and the lack of heat and hot water in campus housing. While in college he became interested in sociology, and he earned an MA in the subject from Atlanta University in 1951.

Abernathy became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Montgomery ...


Nathan Zook

minister, civil rights leader, and member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, was born Avery Caesar Alexander in the town of Houma in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, to a family of sharecroppers. The names of his parents are not known. Seventeen years later, his family moved to New Orleans. Avery Alexander maintained an active life there and in Baton Rouge for the next seventy-two years.

Prior to his election to the Louisiana legislature, Alexander was employed as a longshoreman. At the same time, he pursued an education by taking night courses, receiving his high school diploma from Gilbert Academy in 1939. He became politically active by working as a labor union operative for a longshoreman's union, Local 1419. He also held the occupations of real estate broker and insurance agent.

Alexander received a degree in theology from Union Baptist Theological Seminary and became an ordained Baptist minister ...


James V. Hatch

playwright and minister, was born in Wichita, Kansas. Little is known about his parents, although his mother is said to have been an active reformer and a poet. Anderson completed four years of school (the only formal education that he ever received) before his father moved the family to California to take a job as a janitor in the post office. The following year Anderson's mother died, and at age twelve he left home to become a newsboy, selling the Telegraph Press on the corner of Third and Market streets in San Francisco.

After working as a porter on the railroad, Anderson worked for the next fifteen years as a bellhop in various San Francisco hotels. During this period he also became a temporary convert to Christian Science. One afternoon in 1924 he saw a performance of Channing Pollack's moralistic drama The Fool and knew immediately that he ...


Alice Bernstein

minister, schoolteacher, and civil rights leader, was born in Manning, Clarendon County, South Carolina, the seventh of thirteen children of Tisbia Gamble DeLaine and Henry Charles DeLaine, a pastor at Liberty Hill African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

The family owned farmland, which they worked to keep food on the table, and the children walked miles to a rundown segregated school. When he was fourteen, while walking to school, DeLaine shoved a white boy who had accosted his sister. After this incident was reported to his school's principal, DeLaine ran away to escape punishment of twenty-five lashes, which a school authority was compelled to administer. He spent four years in Georgia and Michigan working as a laborer and attending night school, returning to Manning in 1916. DeLaine worked his way through college and in 1931 earned a BA from Allen University in Columbia South Caroliana where ...


Floyd Ogburn

Baptist minister, was born into slavery in Bourbon County near Paris, Kentucky. As he recounted in his Life of the Rev. Elisha W. Green (1888), at age ten he traveled to Mason County to live with Judge Brown, his new owner, while his mother and sisters Charlotte and Harriet were divided among heirs of the Dobbyns: his sister Evaline and brother Marshall to Silas Devaugh, his brother Alvin to Thomas Perry, his brother Henry to Thomas Dobbyns, and his brother Elijah to Enoch Pepper. In 1828J. L. Kirk of Mayslick, Kentucky, purchased Elisha and put him to work cooking, washing, spinning flax and yarn, and doing household chores until 1832, when his sister, four children, and he were sold at a sheriff's sale to his mistress and the Reverend Walter Warder her new husband Green experienced religious conversion and baptism on ...


Trevor Huddleston was ordained a priest in 1937 and entered the Community of the Resurrection Anglican order before being sent to South Africa in 1943. As deacon of the Anglican Missions of Sophiatown and then Orlando (outside of Johannesburg), Huddleston witnessed and protested against the injustices of apartheid. When the Native Resettlement Act of 1954 called for the destruction of Sophiatown to make way for a white suburb, he became chairperson of the Western Areas Protest Committee to support the blacks in defense of their homes. Despite his actions, Sophiatown was bulldozed in 1955 and the black residents were relocated to the black township of Soweto. Huddleston recorded the plight of Sophiatown in his 1956 book Naught for Your Comfort a condemnation of South Africa s policy of persecution He also worked with the African National Congress ANC to help bring about the Freedom Charter the ANC s ...


David Michel

activist and denominational leader, was born Theodore Judson Jemison, the son of David Vivian Jemison, a Baptist minister, and Henrietta Hillips Jemison in Selma, Alabama. He earned a BS from Alabama State University (1940) and a BD from Virginia Union University (1945). He was later awarded the MA in Psychology by New York University. In August 1945 Jemison married Celestine Catlett, and from this union three children were born.

In 1945 Jemison took over the pastorate of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Staunton Virginia Four years later he transferred to Baton Rouge s Mount Zion First African Baptist Church where he would remain for the rest of his career One of his first acts was to drop African from the name of the church because it connoted racial exclusivism At the time the church had only 300 members The new pastor ...


Sara Bagby

Baptist minister, and activist, was born in Mashulaville, Mississippi, to Allen and Julia (Ruth) Jernigan. He married Willie A. Stennis on 15 October 1889, with whom he had four children: Lottie R., Rosabell, Gertrude J., and Mattie. He married a second wife upon the death of the first. Jernigan attended school at Meridian Academy, and then taught in the public schools for five years. Jernigan received a BA degree from Jackson College in Mississippi.

In 1906, Jernigan became the pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, where he served until 1912. Jernigan actively opposed the institution of Jim Crow laws dictating segregation in the newly formed state of Oklahoma in 1907. As a result of Jernigan and others' efforts, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the case of Quinn v. United States in 1915 to outlaw the ...


Cheryl Dudley

religious leader and civil rights activist, was born in DeRidder, Louisiana, to the Reverend David Jesse Jones and Daisy Jones. The Reverend Jones was the pastor of two churches in Louisiana: Sweet Home Baptist and Mount Calvary Baptist. Daisy Jones was a homemaker. Growing up in a spiritual environment pointed young Edward toward the religious community, where he believed he was destined to accomplish great things. He attended elementary and secondary school in DeRidder and aspired to earn a college degree to prepare him for a career in teaching and religious service.

Edward Jones graduated from Grambling State University with a BS in Elementary Education in 1952. During his freshman year there, he met his future wife, Leslie M. Alexander. The couple dated through college and married on 31 August 1952 They went on to have two daughters two sons and nine grandchildren as of ...


Martin Luther King, Jr., was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, the eldest son of Martin Luther King, Sr., a Baptist minister, and Alberta Williams King. His father served as pastor of a large Atlanta church, Ebenezer Baptist, which was founded by Martin Luther King, Jr.'s maternal grandfather. King, Jr., was ordained as a Baptist minister at age eighteen.


Manfred Berg

Baptist minister and civil rights leader. Martin Luther King Jr. is arguably the most famous and revered African American of the twentieth century. All over the world, his life and legacy epitomize the black struggle for freedom and equality. The years from King's emergence as a civil rights leader during the 1955–1956 Montgomery, bus boycott until his violent death on 4 April 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, are widely considered as the crucial period of the civil rights movement, when the Jim Crow system was dismantled by nonviolent direct action and mass protest. In public memory, his martyrdom has made King into a larger-than-life figure. However, his elevation to the status of a worldly saint has often inhibited a clear understanding of his contribution to the black struggle. Despite four decades of research on virtually every aspect of his life, the debate over King's historical significance continues.


Born in Roodepoort-Maraisburg, near Johannesburg, Beyers Naude was the son of a Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) minister whose family moved to Graaff-Reinet in southwestern South Africa in 1921. Naude obtained a master’s degree in languages and a degree in theology from the University of Stellenbosch School of Theology in 1939. That same year he became an assistant minister at a DRC chapter in Wellington, Western Cape province. He married at this time and joined the Afrikaner Broederbond, a secret organization dedicated to the promotion of Afrikaner nationalism and white rule in South Africa. He remained an orthodox DRC minister and supporter of the National Party, which promoted apartheid, for many years.

In 1960 however the events of the Sharpeville Massacre caused Naude to rethink his views On March 21 of that year sixty nine blacks were killed by police during a demonstration against apartheid s Pass Laws ...


Sholomo B. Levy

minister, educator, and humanitarian, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of Hughes Proctor, who worked at the Norfolk Navy Yard, and Velma Gladys. His parents had met as students at Norfolk Mission College, the same college attended by Velma's parents; Hughes's mother had attended Hampton Institute during Reconstruction. It was unusual for a black family to have such educated parents and grandparents so soon after slavery, and Samuel and his six siblings were raised to believe that educational attainment was natural and expected. Music and religious devotion also helped shape Samuel's childhood. His father played the violin, he played the clarinet, and the other children were each encouraged to learn an instrument. They entertained themselves at home, and they all sang in the choir of the Baptist church founded by his great-grandfather Zechariah Hughes.

As a boy Samuel shined shoes at local barbershops one ...


Daniel W. Hamilton

Reconstruction politician, civil rights leader, and murder victim, was born free in Kentucky, the child of parents of mixed ethnicity whose names are unknown. When he was a child Randolph's family moved to Ohio, where he was educated in local schools. In 1854 he entered Oberlin College's preparatory department, before attending the college from 1857 to 1862. At Oberlin Randolph received instruction both in the liberal arts and at the college's theological seminary. Soon after graduation he was ordained as a Methodist Episcopal minister. During the Civil War Randolph served as a chaplain in the Twenty-sixth Colored Infantry, which was dispatched to Hilton Head, South Carolina, in 1864.

After the war ended in 1865 Randolph applied for a position with the Freedmen s Bureau He was not initially given an appointment but was instead sent to South Carolina by the American Missionary Association a ...


Derek Charles Catsam

civil rights activist and minister, was born Freddie Lee Robinson in Mt. Meigs, Montgomery County, Alabama, the eldest of Alberta Robinson and Vetter Green's two children. In January 1927 Alberta Robinson married William Nathan Shuttlesworth, a onetime miner, small farmer, and small-time bootlegger, and her children took their stepfather's last name.

Shuttlesworth attended Rosedale High School, and starting in the early 1940s studied theology at Cedar Grove Academy Bible College and Selma University, and pursued a teaching certificate at Alabama State College. In 1941 he married Birmingham native Ruby Lanette Keeler, a nursing student, whom he had met when both worked as orderlies at Birmingham's Southern Club. In 1950 he became pastor of the First (African) Baptist Church in Selma, a position he left in 1952 after disputes with church lay leaders. In 1953 he took the pastorate at Birmingham s Bethel Baptist Church From the Bethel ...


David Killingray

Missionary and first black South African ordained as a Christian minister. Soga was a Xhosa speaker born in the Eastern Cape. He received his first formal education at the Presbyterian Mission school at Lovedale. During the Xhosa–British War of 1846–7, Soga and his Christian mother became refugees. In 1848 a missionary took him to Scotland for further education, where he was also baptized; he returned to South Africa as a catechist in 1849. In the continuing conflict between the Xhosas and white settlers on the Eastern Cape frontier, Soga lived in Grahamstown and was identified with European interests. In 1851 Soga went to the Free Church Seminary in Glasgow to train for the ministry. He was ordained and returned to South Africa in 1857 with his white Scottish wife Janet Burnside Soga and his wife experienced considerable racial prejudice in South Africa but moved inland to a ...


Milton C. Sernett

bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the only son of Abraham Lincoln Spottswood, a porter, and Mary Elizabeth Gram. The family was religious. Spottswood received a BA from Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1917 and a ThB from Gordon Divinity School in Boston in 1919. He attended Yale Divinity School in 1923–1924. In 1919 he married Viola Estelle Booker; they had five children. That same year he joined the NAACP.

During the 1920s and 1930s Spottswood served as pastor of churches in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, North Carolina, Indiana, and New York. During his tenure as pastor of John Wesley AME Zion Church in Washington, D.C., from 1936 to 1952, he enlarged the congregation from six hundred members to more than three thousand and became increasingly prominent in denominational circles. From 1947 to 1952 he ...


Kate Tuttle

An outspoken critic of South Africa’s Apartheid system, Desmond Tutu became one of his country’s most prominent symbols of resistance and hope, along with Nelson Mandela. Born in Klerksdorp, South Africa, Tutu was raised in the Transvaal region. The son of a schoolteacher father, he walked miles each day to overcrowded and under-equipped schools. The family was better off than most, however, and Tutu has described his childhood as happy. An attack of tuberculosis at age fourteen kept Tutu out of school for nearly two years. While recuperating, he met Father Trevor Huddleston, a white Anglican priest known for his opposition to apartheid. Under Huddleston’s influence, Tutu first became interested in the church, an interest that complemented his plans to become a teacher. In 1954 he graduated from Bantu Normal College outside Pretoria and was certified as a teacher Tutu cut short his teaching career after ...


W. Brian Piper

minister, civil rights activist and organizer, was born to Robert Cordy and Euzetta Tindell Vivian in Howard County, Missouri. C.T. Vivian grew up in Illinois and attended Western Illinois University where he received a bachelor's degree in history in 1948. He began his career at the Carver Community Center in Peoria, Illinois, where he helped desegregate local restaurants. It was also in Peoria that Vivian met Octavia Geans; they were married in 1953 and would have seven children. Not long thereafter, Vivian was called to enter the ministry and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend American Baptist Theological Seminary in 1955.

In Nashville Reverend Vivian took a job as an editor for National Baptist Convention USA Inc where his outspoken demeanor and progressive vision often set him at odds with the rest of the editorial board Vivian took over the pastorate of First Community Church ...


Sandy Dwayne Martin

African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) bishop, civic leader, and author, was born in Chimney Rock, Rutherford County, North Carolina, the son of Hattie Edgerton and Edward Walls. His father died when Walls was only eight years old, leaving Hattie Walls, with the help of relatives and friends, to support and provide sufficient education for Walls and his three younger sisters. In 1899, at age fourteen, he entered the ministry. He was licensed to preach at the Hopkins Chapel AMEZ Church in Asheville, North Carolina, and began as an evangelist. He was ordained as a deacon in 1903 and received full ministerial, or elder, orders in 1905. After attending Allen Industrial School in Asheville, he transferred to the AMEZ-supported Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina, where he received a BA in 1908 Five years later he received a bachelor of divinity degree from the denomination s ...