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Curtis Jacobs

was born on 3 August 1832 in St. Thomas, Danish West Indies (today, the US Virgin Islands). He was the third of seven children born to Romeo Blyden, a tailor, and Judith Blyden, a teacher, a free black married couple in a Danish colony where the majority of Africans were still enslaved. Members of an integrated congregation of the Dutch Reformed Church, the Blydens moved briefly to Venezuela in 1842, where, in addition to discovering an aptitude for languages, Blyden observed that most of the emancipated Africans in that country were not far removed from chattel slavery.

Wilmot became a student of the Reverend John Knox of the Dutch Reformed Church upon his family’s return to St. Thomas in 1844. Impressed with his academic potential, Knox encouraged Wilmot in 1850 to travel to the United States with a view to gaining admission into the Rutgers Theological College ...