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Geoffrey Roper

Egyptian Muslim theologian, modernist, and reformer, was born in the Gharbiya Province of Lower Egypt, the son of ʿAbduh ibn Hasan Khayr Allah, a peasant farmer, and his wife, who was descended from the Bani ʿAdl clan. He grew up in the village of Mahallat Nasr and received a traditional education, learning the Qurʾan by heart. In 1862 he was sent to the madrasa (Islamic college) in Tanta. There, he perfected his Qurʾan recitation and started to learn Arabic grammar, by the then normal method of memorizing texts and commentaries without explanation from his teachers.

Reacting against this, according to his own account, he ran away from the college and returned to his village, intending to become a peasant rather than a scholar. In this condition he married in 1865 at the age of sixteen But after various vicissitudes he resorted to his great uncle Shaykh Darwish Khadr who ...

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Sandy Dwayne Martin

clergyman, community activist, denomination organizer, and black nationalist was born Albert Buford Cleage Jr., one of seven children of Pearl (whose maiden name is now unknown) and Albert Cleage Sr., in Indianapolis, Indiana. Shortly after Agyeman's birth, Cleage, Sr., a medical doctor, relocated with his family to Detroit, Michigan, where the father helped to establish the city's first African American hospital. After an undergraduate education that included a stay at Fisk University in Tennessee, Agyeman received his BA in Sociology from Wayne State University in 1937, serving as a caseworker for the Department of Public Welfare from 1931 to 1938. Subsequently Agyeman felt the call to ministry and obtained a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Oberlin College Graduate School of Theology in 1943. Also in 1943Agyeman married Doris Graham, to which union was born two children, Kris and the ...

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C. James Trotman

Presbyterian pastor, educator, and social reformer, was born in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, the son of Timothy Anderson and Mary Croog One of fourteen children he was raised in the comforts of a rural middle class home less than thirty miles from historic Gettysburg On a typical day of his youth Matthew faced both the physical demands of farm life and the movement back and forth between two cultures One dominated by commerce and materialism was uncharacteristically open to the Andersons who owned lumber mills and real estate at a time when most black Americans were dehumanized and disenfranchised by chattel slavery The other was a culture defined by close family ties and Presbyterian piety At home Matthew heard Bible stories and dramatic tales of runaway slaves indeed religious piety and the pursuit of racial freedom were dominant themes in his life These early experiences inspired Matthew so ...

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Darryl E. Brock

was born in the village of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, to a poor family on 23 February 1822. Born out of wedlock, he took his working-class mother’s last name, Baldorioty, and soon moved with her to San Juan. The noted Puerto Rican historian Cayetano Coll y Toste wrote of Baldorioty exhibiting a “happy conjunction” of Indian, Negro, and white blood. When the boy’s father, Don Juan de Castro of Cabo Rojo, rather tardily appeared to acquaint himself and change his son’s residence, the priest and benefactor Rufo Manuel Fernández advised against this, as young Román had already shown great scholarly promise.

Studying at El Colegio Seminario Conciliar Idelfonso, the island’s leading institution, and influenced by the renowned educator Rafael Cordero, Baldorioty secured a scholarship in 1846 to study physics and mathematical sciences at the University of Madrid There with the professor José Gualberto Padilla he founded La Sociedad de ...

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Clifton H. Johnson

clergyman and abolitionist, was born in Colchester, Connecticut, the son of Jehiel C. Beman, a clergyman. Nothing is known of his mother. He grew up and received a basic education in Middletown, Connecticut, where his father was pastor of the African church. A Wesleyan University student, L. P. Dole, volunteered to tutor Beman after the university refused his application for admission because he was an African American. Dole and Beman suffered ridicule and harassment from other students, and an anonymous threat of bodily harm from “Twelve of Us” caused Beman to give up the effort after six months. He went to Hartford, where he taught school for four years, and around 1836 he briefly attended the Oneida Institute in New York.

Beman was ordained as a Congregational minister in 1839. At about this time he married a woman whose name is not known. In 1841 ...

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Thiven Reddy

South African religious figure and antiapartheid activist, was born to Sarah and Willem Boesak in Kakamas, Northern Cape. When Boesak was young, his father, a teacher, passed away. His family moved to Somerset West, where, at age 14, Boesak became active in the Dutch Reformed Church. He studied at the Bellville Theological Seminary, graduating as a priest in 1967. He went on to obtain a doctorate in Holland at the Kampen Theological Institute and then returned to South Africa to assume an active role in the struggle against apartheid.

As leader of the Afrikaner-dominated Dutch Reformed Church (DRC), he was the major force in getting the World Alliance of Reformed Churches to declare apartheid a heresy in 1982 At the time that body had not questioned South Africa s membership or the supportive stand of the DRC and the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk NHK toward apartheid and the ruling ...

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Kenneth C. Barnes

educator, clergyman, missionary, and community leader, was born in Columbia County, Georgia, the son of Lewis Bouey, a carpenter, and Maria, a cook. The couple had no other children. Bouey spent his early life in Augusta, Georgia, where he was apprenticed to learn the painter's trade and attended night school. He passed the examination to become licensed as a teacher and taught in the public schools of Augusta for two years. From 1870 to 1873 he attended the Baptist Theological School in Augusta, an institution that later moved to Atlanta and in 1913 was renamed Morehouse College. Upon graduation he moved to Ridge Springs, South Carolina, where he became principal of a school and taught there for two years.

Bouey's work as an educational and community leader brought him into politics in 1874 He was elected to a two year term as probate judge in Edgefield County ...

Article

Mary Krane Derr

Roman Catholic religious leader, sacred music performer, and social justice activist, was born Bertha J. Bowman in Yazoo City, Mississippi, the granddaughter of slaves and only child of physician Theon Edward Bowman and high school music teacher Mary Esther Coleman. Baptized an Episcopalian, Bertha attended Methodist services. Growing up in segregated, impoverished Canton, Mississippi, she absorbed the spirituality and music of black community elders and her parents' own deep commitments to lives of service. At age ten, she chose to be baptized as a Roman Catholic because she admired the work of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) in Canton. In the face of public uproar, white nuns from this order taught black students at Holy Child Jesus Catholic School. Unable to read after five years of poor quality education in segregated public schools, Bertha finally became literate after transferring to this school in 1949 ...

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Kathryn Lofton

community organizer and Pentecostal bishop, was born in a Hyde Park apartment on Chicago's South Side. His parents were among the waves of African Americans who migrated from the South to the North in pursuit of greater economic opportunity and social mobility during the Great Migration. His mother, Geneva, was a household domestic and lay Pentecostal preacher, eventually leading the Universal Church of Christ in Chicago. His father, Robert, was a maintenance man at the Hyde Park Laundry Company from 1921 to 1940. One of five children, Brazier grew up in a highly segregated black community, since restrictive covenants bound blacks to certain areas of the city.

From his early teenage years, Brazier worked whenever he wasn't in school, first as a milkman's helper for the Bowman Dairy Company and later as a parking attendant at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933 and 1934 During the Depression Brazier ...

Article

Henry B. Lovejoy

Free black creole of the Lucumí nation, and leader of the famous Mutual Aid Society of the Lucumí Nation of Santa Bárbara, remembered among modern-day practitioners of Cuban Santería as Ṣàngó tẹ̀ dún.

Little documentation exists for Maria Francisca Camejo, and from birth she could have been enslaved or free. The name “Camejo” was common throughout Spain’s empire, and to this day remains popular in the tobacco-growing region of the Piñar del Rio region in western Cuba. Since the eighteenth century, if not earlier, this family engaged in tobacco production for the royal monopoly based at the factory in Havana. By the 1790s a branch of this family residing and trading tobacco in the capital city likely owned María Francisca as a domestic slave. Camejo identified as Lucumí, but baptism records from the early nineteenth century indicate she identified as a “black creole” (morena criolla Like so many ...

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 ...

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Michael R. Mahoney

first Anglican bishop of Natal, theologian, and political activist, was born in Saint Austell, Cornwall, on 24 January 1814, the eldest of four children of a mineral agent to the Duchy of Cornwall. He began attending Saint John’s College, Cambridge University, in 1832, and in 1836 he graduated as a second wrangler in the mathematical tripos and a second Smith’s prizeman. A year later he was elected a fellow at Saint John’s. In 1839 he took up holy orders in the Church of England but worked as a mathematics tutor at Harrow, where he gained some notoriety as an author of mathematics texts. During this period Colenso also became increasingly active in the Church of England and in 1846 became rector of Forncett Saint Mary Church in Norfolk County. That same year he married Sarah Frances Bunyon, with whom he had five children.

In 1853 at the ...

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Brandi Hughes

nurse, foreign missionary, and school founder, was born to Anna L. Delaney and Daniel Sharpe Delaney in Fernandina Beach, Florida. Emma Beard Delaney came of age in the postbellum generation that witnessed the collapse of Reconstruction and the fading of the early promise of African American emancipation. Against the rising tide of segregation and racial violence, however, Delaney's family managed to sustain a measure of economic security and educational advancement. Her father, Daniel, held the distinction of being the only African American helmsman commissioned for service on the Revenue Cutter Boutwell, a federal ship that patrolled the ports of Savannah, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; and Charleston, South Carolina, as a forerunner of the U.S. Coast Guard. The unique benefits of her father's government employment enabled the Delaney family to support an expansive education for Emma and her sister, Annie. In 1889 shortly after completing secondary classes ...

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Michael Pasquier

Roman Catholic nun and founder of a religious order, was born in New Orleans, the daughter of Marie Josephe Diaz, a free woman of color, and Jean Baptiste Delille-Sarpy a wealthy white aristocrat Legally categorized as a person of mixed race Delille attended a school for free children of color under the direction of Catholic sisters in New Orleans Her father did not support the family in any measurable fashion and her mother suffered from mental illness all of which required that Delille and her two surviving siblings support themselves at a young age As a teenager she began to identify less with the aristocratic society of free people of color and more with the religious lives of Catholic sisters She became a catechist to free people of color and a lay leader in Catholic confraternities Legal and social standards however limited the extent to which she was ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

minister, active in the Underground Railroad, reputed to have founded ten churches, including the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, was born in 1833 on a plantation in New Kent County, Virginia. By the laws of that state, he was the property of the Ferrell family. His name was variously spelled Dungee, Dungy, Dunjy, and Dunjee. His children adopted the Dunjee spelling.

Five Ferrell heirs moved to Alabama, and sold the family's Virginia plantation in 1842 to former president John Tyler, who renamed it “Sherwood Forest.” Dungee was hired out to Virginia governor John Munford Gregory, and in later years spoke well of him. However, when the Ferrells—who had sold off many slaves, and had a reputation for severity—sent word that they wanted him sent to Alabama, Dungee escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad in February 1860 arriving first in Hamilton Ontario then traveling via Toronto ...

Article

Zachery R. Williams

controversial Nation of Islam leader. Louis Eugene Walcott was born in the Bronx, New York. His mother, Sarah Mae Channing Clarke, of West Indian heritage, raised him and his brother Alvin in a deeply religious household. As a youth, Louis attended the local Episcopal church and served as an altar boy.

The discipline he received early in his life contributed to his academic success at high school in Boston. There, he graduated with honors and began his love affair with the violin. At the age of thirteen, he acquired experience playing with the Boston College Orchestra and the Boston Civic Symphony. He attended Winston-Salem Teachers College in North Carolina for two years before leaving in order to pursue his musical interests. Subsequently he performed in Boston as a calypso singer.

In 1955, at the age of twenty-two, Louis was recruited by Malcolm X to join the Nation ...

Article

Louis Farrakhan is the head of the Nation of Islam, a black religious organization in the United States that combines some of the practices and beliefs of Islam with a philosophy of black separatism. He preaches the virtues of personal responsibility, especially for black men, and advocates black self-sufficiency. Farrakhan's message, which has appealed mainly to urban blacks, draws on the tradition of black nationalists who have called for black self-reliance in the face of economic injustice and white racism. His more inflammatory remarks have caused critics to claim that he has appealed to black racism and anti-Semitism to promote his views.

Born Louis Eugene Walcott in New York, New York, Farrakhan grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. He attended Winston-Salem Teacher's College in North Carolina and worked as a nightclub singer in the early 1950s. In 1955Malcolm X a minister for the Nation of Islam ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

leader of the Nation of Islam, was born Louis Eugene Walcott in the Bronx, New York City, to Sarah Mae Manning, a native of St. Kitts, who worked as a domestic. Farrakhan's biological father was Manning's husband, Percival Clarke, a light-skinned Jamaican cab driver. By the time young Louis was born, however, Manning had left Clarke and was living with Louis Walcott. Manning hoped her baby would be a girl and have a dark complexion like herself and Walcott. Nevertheless, when the child was born male and with a light complexion, she named him Louis and listed Walcott as the father (Magida, 10). Walcott stayed with the family during their move to the Roxbury section of Boston in 1937, but departed shortly thereafter.Raising two young children alone during the Depression was difficult, but Sarah Mae kept her boys from harm and attended to their ...

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Jeremy Rich

a missionary and a founding father of the Methodist Church in Ghana and Nigeria, was born on 6 December 1809 in Twyford England His father Thomas Freeman was a former slave of African descent who worked as a gardener It is unclear if he was born in Jamaica or somewhere on the African continent although Freeman adamantly claimed his father was from Africa rather than the Caribbean His mother was an Englishwoman of European descent named Amy Birch Freeman s father died when he was only six years old He was raised in his grandfather John Birch s middle class home as his mother remarried and apparently left the boy in her father s care Freeman as a boy received a fair amount of education as displayed by his excellent training in botany Freeman became the head gardener and botanist for a wealthy aristocrat Sir Robert Harland who lived ...

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David Killingray

Black BritishWesleyan missionary and traveller in West Africa. Freeman was born in Hampshire, the child of a black father and a white mother. Little is known of his early years, but he was employed as a gardener in Suffolk and became a Christian, joining the Wesleyan Methodists. In 1838 Freeman went as a missionary to the Gold Coast, an area of West Africa where he was to spend most of his life. He built Methodist churches at Cape Coast and Accra, promoted education, and trained local men for the ministry. He established a mission station in Kumase, the Asante capital, and visited towns in southern Nigeria and also the kingdom of Dahomey, where he urged King Gezo to stop the slave trade. On furlough in Britain in 1843 Freeman actively promoted missionary work and also the anti‐slavery cause, both helped by publication of his travel accounts. In 1847 ...