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David McBride

physician and public service and church activist, was born Leonidas Harris Berry on a tobacco farm in Woodsdale, North Carolina, the son of the Reverend Llewellyn Longfellow Berry, general secretary of the Department of Home and Foreign Missions of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, and Beulah Harris. Leonidas acquired the desire to become a doctor at the age of five, when a distinguished‐looking local doctor treated a small wound on his foot. The young boy was impressed by this “miraculous” event. His aspiration to go to medical school intensified while he was attending Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Virginia. In 1924 Berry graduated from Wilberforce University and went on to obtain the SB in 1925 from the University of Chicago. In 1930 he also received his medical degree from the University of Chicago s Rush Medical College Berry continued his medical training earning an MS ...

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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 ...

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

Rochell Isaac

pastor, educator, and entrepreneur, was born a slave in Christian Country, Kentucky. Clark never knew his biological father. While Clark was still a baby, his father escaped from slavery. His mother, Mary Clark, subsequently married Jerry Clark, who would join the Union army in 1860. Charles Henry Clark remained a slave for a total of nine years, and it was at the age of seven that the overseer's wife took him as her servant. She taught Clark to spell and initiated his path to literacy, but the outbreak of the Civil War would separate Clark from his teacher. During this period, Clark's mother moved from Kentucky to New Providence, Tennessee, to await her husband, Jerry Clark, who was returning from the army. Mary Clark had difficulty financially supporting her family, since her only income at this time came from her eldest son, George W. Clark As ...

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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

Benjamin A. Jackson

Presbyterian minister, clinical and counseling psychologist, and educator, was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina, to Edmund Taylor Gordon, a physician, and Mabel Ellison Gordon, a schoolteacher. At the time of his birth and during Gordon's early life there, Goldsboro, a small city in eastern North Carolina, was typical of southern locales, with a pattern of racial segregation and racial prejudice. Despite the segregation that he experienced, Gordon grew up in privileged circumstances. His parents, both educated professionals, were firmly ensconced members of the black upper middle class.

After completing high school in Goldsboro, Gordon attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. During his early college years Howard University suspended Gordon for a semester for not making proper academic progress. When he returned, he was lucky enough to find a mentor in the person of Professor Alain Locke the noted black philosopher and scholar who was ...

Article

Michele Valerie Ronnick

pharmacist, physician, man of letters, and licensed preacher in the British Methodist Episcopal Church and African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, to Stephen and Eleanor Jones Hartley. His mother, who was born in Bridgetown, Barbados, on 7 June 1830, was of Creole origin. She was confirmed at St. Michael's Cathedral, an Anglican church, on 6 January 1849, and moved a few months later on 27 June 1849 to Port of Spain. Her husband, whom she married at the Church of the Holy Trinity on 27 December 1860, was a merchant's clerk. A physician from Paris, France, named Louis Saturnin witnessed the couple's wedding and also the baptism on 5 February 1862 of their only son, Henry, who was Saturnin's namesake.

Not quite four years later, on 26 January 1866 Hartley s father died To make ends ...

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

Allen J. Fromherz

philosopher, physician, and rabbinical scholar, was born around 1135 in that ornament of the world the city of Córdoba in Muslim controlled al Andalus In fact Maimonides would spend his whole life in lands under Muslim control mainly in Morocco and Egypt Also known as Rambam and Ibn Maymun he and his thought were fundamentally influenced by the Islamic and mainly Arabic speaking civilization in which he lived At the same time he had a profound knowledge of Jewish literature and scriptural commentary as well as Greek thought In this way Maimonides integrated the major historical and cultural traditions of the Mediterranean the Middle East and Africa Faced with powerful attacks on Judaism from Christian and Muslim scholars such as Petrus Alfonsi and Ibn Hazm attacks based on a use of Greek reason and logic Maimonides was able to respond with his own application of reason to Jewish theology ...

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

Amon Saba Sakaana

Black doctor and activist. Harold Moody was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1882 and arrived in London in 1904 to study medicine. His mother, a dark woman, was aware of the liability of black skin in colonial Jamaica for she advised her son to make friends with those fairer than himself. Moody's father worked on the Panama Canal and returned with enough money to open a pharmacy. Moody was sent to a prestigious school in Kingston run by Sir William Morrison, and was then transferred to Woolmer's Free School until 1899. His scholarship was sound, and upon graduation he opened his own school, where he taught for some time. From his very early beginnings Moody was a devout Christian, becoming secretary of the Christian Endeavour Society at the age of 19. He also was a preacher at two churches in Kingston.

As early as 1912 Moody was ...

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

Elizabeth D. Schafer

physician, was born in Winchester, Texas, the son of Pierce Moten, a farmer and businessman, and Amanda (maiden name unknown). His mother, who died when he was young, had planned for her sons to attend college. Moten studied in segregated public schools and pursued many interests, hoping to escape the sharecropper's life.

The New York Age editor T. Thomas Fortune convinced Moten's father to send Moten to Tuskegee Institute, and Moten enrolled there in September 1896. Expressing an interest in medicine, he was employed in the doctor's office and drug room. After two years Moten was recommended for a position in a Tuskegee drugstore owned by a white physician. He learned to fill prescriptions and earned a prescription clerk certificate.

Moten continued to work in Tuskegee's drug room “with my heart and hopes set on the day I would become a doctor.” In 1900 he graduated ...

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 ...

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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 ...